Kalymnos, 20 years of rock climbing in Greece
The small island of Kalymnos in Greece, without a doubt one world's premier sport climbing destinations, celebrates 20 years of rock climbing holidays.
It was back in 1996 when Andrea di Bari "discovered", almost by chance, the nigh limitless garden of rocks on the island of Kalymnos while holidaying in Greece’s Dodecanese with his wife. The Italian immediately returned the following May to bolt the first 43 sport climbs at the sectors Arhi, Odyssey and Poets, and from that moment on there was no way of stopping the wave of development on the island and on nearby Telendos. Since those early beginnings Kalymnos has evolved into one of best sport climbing areas in the world and it has become a reference point for the entire climbing community.
The island hosts circa 10,000 climbers each year; everyone comes here in search of that magical mix of fabulous limestone, the exceptional Aegean sea and the legendary Greek hospitality and cuisine that all render the atmosphere on the small island absolutely unique.
After 20 years of incessant new routing, those first 46 climbs have grown exponentially and the number is now about to tip 3500. Incredibly, the potential for new routing is not yet exhausted. Even if getting to the island has now become slightly more complicated - currently Ryanair is not operating direct flights to nearby Kos (other carriers are) - as one of the driving forces behind the climbing development in the island of Aris Theodoropoulos states "those who reach Kalymnos will certainly be happy, also because at the moment there are less climbers on the island!"
39 climbs from 5a - 7c
Sector Arginonta Valley is above a valley with beautiful, centuries-old gnarled olive trees. The trees were completely neglected but the terrain around them has been cleaned and their shade can now be enjoyed freely. The sector’s three distinct sections offer a bit of everything: steep slabs full of good holds and some horizontal streaks, juggy bulges, and steep overhangs with some colonettes. Most routes were equipped by Aris Theodoropoulos and Claude Idoux.
45 climbs from 4c - 7c
Close to Arginonta lies one of the island's oldest crags, Arhi. It was here that, in the mid nineties, the Italians Andrea Gallo and Andrea di Bari climbed some of the first routes on Kalymnos, marking the start of what was soon to become one of the most popular climbing getaways in Europe. Arhi currently has 37 routes to the left and to the right of the large central cave.
23 climbs from 5b - 6a+
Sector Black Buddha is high above Arginonta Bay, with beautiful and unusual views over the village and the sea. With many hours of mid-day shade this is another good option for hot days; however, the approach path is in the sun. Routes are around 6a, on grey/black slabby rock full of small bulges and big holds often hiding overhead. Most routes were equipped by Claude Idoux in 2015/16.
9 climbs from 6a - 7b
E.T. is the latest addition to Kalymnos, suitable for climbing on hot, sunny afternoons. E.T. is located in the fertile valley of Vathy (or Vathys), just above the village of Metochi and offers gorgeous views over the valley, the fjord of Rina and the Turkish coast. Viewed from a distance, the cliff resembles a giant face, exactly like Steven Spielberg’s E.T. - the caves on either side and at the foot of the cliff form the eyes and mouth. E.T. was equipped in April 2010 by the tireless Frenchman – and permanent Kalymnos resident – Claude Idoux. Over the last 3 years Claude has equipped more than 70 routes on Kalymnos; his routes follow the rock’s natural line, his bolting is meticulous and he dedicates a significant amount of time to the exemplary cleaning of each route from vegetation, dirt and loose rock. You may have noticed the artistic hand-painted rocks marking the names of many of his routes. The crag still holds potential, so expect some new routes in the near future.
35 climbs from 5b - 7b
Ghost Kitchen is one of the most important climbing areas on the island of Kalymnos. The dominant feature of this large cliff is a huge domed roof with stalactites and tufas; the stalactites protrude from the rock just like enormous mushrooms. The majority of the routes are located right here and you should definitely check out what the ghosts have been cooking! On either side of the roof are are medium difficulty slabs, while the pleasant gentle grey slab located slightely lower down to the right offers outstanding slab climbing. At present, only one remarkable route, Rigani, makes full use of the height of the crag.
58 climbs from 4a - 8a+
One of the most important crags on Kalymnos lies just above the sleepy village Armeos. In actual fact this immense rock face, called Grande Grotta, is divided up into three sectors, each with different characteristics, but each with one unique quality: the exceptional rock and routes. the routes start way on the left at the sector "Afternoon", which gets its name from the fact that it stays in the shade until after midday. The sector is marked by its enormous corner, and offers about 20 easy routes on rough rock. The central wall, the "Grande Grotta", is perhaps the most impressive overhang on Kalymnos and definitely an obligatory stop-off point for those climbing hard routes. To the right of the "Grande Grotta" lies the sector "Panorama", with its slightly overhanging, technical and pumpy routes... almost 30 meters of stamina supreme.
11 climbs from 5b - 8a+
Local Freezer is a recently developed crag set in a very steep cave 150m past the Summertime sector when coming from Masouri. There are plenty of tufas and a very promising, immaculate red wall on the left with a big potential for quality new routes. When fully developed, Local Freezer is expected to become one of the most important crags in Kalymnos. Easy access, northern exposure (in the shade all day), a constant sea breeze, a gorgeous view to Arginonta Bay and high quality climbing all render Local Freezer a perfect crag for climbing from May all the way through to October.
61 climbs from 4a - 9a
With more than 60 routes from 4c to 9a, Odyssey is currently the most important crag on Kalymnos. It's beautiful grey slabs, intermingled by steep overhangs, offer excellent quality routes, making it a reference point for climbing on this island.
40 climbs from 5b - 7b+
Saint Photis was first bolted by the Remy brothers in 2001 and still had a huge potential for new lines. In autumn 2012 Simon Montmory equipped 15 new routes and in spring 2013, together with Aris Theodoropoulos, they re-bolted the old routes to make another new and attractive sector on the island. The sector is very quiet and wild, with a fantastic view on the south face of Telendos and the sea. It’s ideal to get away from the crowd and closer to nature! The grades might be a bit harder or easier, since only few climbers repeated the routes. Alexander Megos made the first ascents of all the hardest routes, with really humid conditions and generally one or 2 goes… and of course very easily!
32 climbs from 6a+ - 8a+
With stalactites growing horizontally out of the red, slightly overhanging cliff face, Secret Garden is a cross between Odyssey and Ghost Kitchen. The climbing is exceptional, with a mixture of tufa jugs and single pipes and with plenty of opportunities for knee bars and sit-down rests. Secret Garden is in a remote and wild area on the north coast of the island; it is very close to the sea and it overlooks Leros Island, the islets of Pitta, Kalolimnos and Imia, and Turkey’s east coast.
14 climbs from 4a - 8b
The Sikati cave is located on the N.E. of Kalymnos and although climbers call it Sikati, the locals call it Alatsia. It is like a huge hole in the ground; a cave with no roof with a 50-60m diameter, 70m deep in parts. Its surrounding walls are full of tufas and stalactites. There is great potential for setting up an extra 20-30 difficult routes and around 20-25 easier routes on the grey wall opposite. Once these have been established, Sikati could easily satisfy the needs of all kinds of climbers with its great quantity and quality rock. Sikati is similar in style to Grande Grotta but even better because there are also plenty of pockets. This will soon be the next hot-spot, not only on Kalymnos but also worldwide. And at the end of the day make sure you go swimming at the remote beach nearby, just 5 minutes from the cave.
21 climbs from 6a - 8a
Located high above and to the left of the sectors Afternoon and Grande Grotta, the spectacular Spartacus offers a series of fabulous routes between 6a and 8a. The walls are steep and pocketed and almost all routes are recommend, making the walk uphill highly rewarding. Given its orientation it is ideal in summer as the sun arrives late in the day, allowing you to escape the heat until 6.00 pm. Do not miss out on the following: Les Amazones, 30m of 6c up a spectacular tufa. Harakiri, 26m of 6b of mother nature’s best. Spartacus, the 7c which gives the name to the sector. Overhanging stamina fest on good holds. Kerveros, this 6c+/7a on its own is makes the trip to Spartacus, and Kalymnos, worthwhile. Most routes were put up by Michel Piola, a certain guarantee for their quality and beauty!
Telendos - Glaros
18 climbs from 5a - 8c
Telendos, the little island opposite Kalymnos, has recently been enriched with Glaros, a new crag located on a stunning natural balcony overlooking the sea which is expected to be one of the hidden gems of Kalymnos climbing. Situated on the north side of Telendos, immediately above Pescatore and to the right of the sector Irox, the rock is not sharp despite its proximity to the sea. One of the crag's main plus points is that that it enjoys the shade all day long, making it ideal for the hot summer days. The only times when climbing at Glaros is not ideal is on very humid days with no breeze, or after extended rain. Sector Glaros was established during the unusually cold and rainy months of December 2008 by Swiss mountain guides Peter Keller and Urs Odermatt, who spent a week on the practically deserted Telendos working unstoppably. Keller and Odermatt were also instrumental in the development of sector Irox. The routes Tipota (8c?) and Apagorevmeno Oniro (?) were established in April 2008 by the French equippers of sector Crystal Cave, namely Gaetan Raymond, Thibault Saubusse, Quentin Jaillard and Quentin Chastagnier, all from Grenoble.
Telendos - Inspiration
8 climbs from 5b - 7b+
With its big arch 100m off the ground, the sector Inspiration is certainly one of the most impressive and beautiful climbing areas on the islands of Kalymnos and Telendos. The view is awesome and there is still a huge potential of routes waiting to be equipped!
Telendos - Lamda
34 climbs from 4b - 7b+
This new crag hosts more than 30 fantastic routes in magnificent surroundings. The number of exceptional routes is unusually high even by Kalymnos standards and some are the most beautiful on the island of their grade. The routes are very long and slightly overhanging and while some moves are on sharp rock, most of the climbing is extremely pleasant up large pockets and wide tufas.
Telendos - Pescatore
25 climbs from 5b - 8a+
Located on the tiny and idyllic island of Telendos immediately opposite Kalymnos, Pescatore is a new sector with 25 routes from 5b+ to 8a+ on a smooth 30m wall charcaterised by numerous large stalactites and tufas. The wild beauty of the landscape by the sea offers unforgettable views to Leros and the coast of Kalymnos close to Emporios, and the climbing is rendered even more fascinating by the lack of immediate contact with homes and civilisation.
LINK: Check out all the multi-pitches on Kalymnos in the database planetmountain.com