I boarded a flight to Kos, Greece and wow was it EMPTY. There were probably over 10 empty rows plus more empty seats…it seemed odd to me that they used such a big plane.. but hey i will remember that flight and enjoy the space. I could actually sleep so well on 3 seats!
Anyway, the flight was easy and on the flight I even met a few other climbers from Spain and Colorado. It was really cool to see a bunch of climbers headed to kalymnos before i even made it to the island of kalymnos itself! I have never been to kalymnos before, but heard it was like a climber paradise. I think meeting climbers on the plane was the first sign maybe kalymnos was worth traveling to.. because if lots of people were headed there.. it must be good, right?
My flight landed and I waited about an hr before the group I was meeting arrived [Some austrian/italian tiroleans who I met through Johannes this past year] I watched a movie and the wait passed quickly and soon I found them! The group was more than i expected so it was a bit intimidating when 8 of speaking german surrounded me, but hey by the end of the trip I enjoyed them all!
Turns out they had not eaten much since breakfast since they had traveled on a train before flying and they were all starving. So we took a taxi to the port, figured out the next ferry was not for 2 hours and decided to eat. We decided on this restaurant after one of them asked if it was the best one restaurant and the waiter responded “yes of course.” Perhaps a biased response but it was still good food.
Then at 11pm we took the ferry to kalymnos. It was crazy windy on the top, but we were all warm and energized ready for a climbing vacation!
We arrived at the port only to find there were not enough taxi’s to take everyone so we had to wait for more taxis. A bit later we got some and headed to the studio apartments on the other side of the island. We arrived and Susan, the owner of Olive Studios, helped us get into our place no problem. I reserved two apartments: one family room with 2 rooms/3 beds and one double room for most of us and the others found another place.
Tyrol Crew–I met through johannes
[Armin- Climbed in Thailand last year and went to his home in Südtirol last August
Sara- Saw a few times in Vienna this past year for climbing, coffee and dinner
Lukas- Had a coffee in Vienna
Tobi, Lassa, Jo, Marvin and Hamlet-Met in kalymnos for the first time from]
Joe- Good friend of four years, who I first met when i went to college in Denver
Ken – Just met in Kalymnos for the first time, a previous friend of Joe
Early the next morning I woke up well rested and ready to climb. Since we came in when it was pitch black we never realized that our place over looks the beautiful island of Telendos. What a absolutely breathtaking view and on top of the view Armin was nice enough to make apple pancakes and coffee by the time I woke up.
That morning I found my good friend Joe from Denver, who was actually staying in the apartment below us. It was so great to see him, it had been over a year since I saw him and as far as I could tell he was doing well, enjoying life!
We chatted a bit more and then I headed out to the cliffs with Armin and the others. Joe waited for his friend Ken so we didn’t climb together the first day.
There I did 6b, 6c+, 6b+, 7a, 6c. Most routes I did were beautiful and i really enjoyed them. The wall was a bit overhanging and had beautiful pockets and tufas. One line even have two long parallel tufas connected to the wall that were incredibly fun to climb.
That night we made a quick pasta dinner and ate lots!
Next morning we started out with a nice pancake breakfast again made by Armin. Then we packed up and headed our to climb. At first I climbed with Lukas and Sara in an area called Iannis and did a 6c and 7b.
The 7b (soft 5.12b) was a really fun route that worked up these hanging tufas, with a more difficult top sequence. It was at the edge of my onsight level (ability to climb the first try without knowing the movements) and a really fun route. It felt great to climb at my limit and I was just happy to be in such a beautiful place, what a wonderful moment.
A bit after Joe and Ken joined us and I headed to a new area called Kalynda and did a nice 7a and 7a+.
The routes we tried here were a lot flatter with no bit tufas in sight, but still great quality rock and enjoyable movements!
That night I decided to have dinner out with Joe and Ken. I had a delicious Salmon fillet, Ken had a Greek style beef stew and Joe had a feta and tomato stuffed squid. We made it back to the studio where we were staying and the others had decided to make a big fish. That night was a bit chilly with the wind and we finally figured out how to use the heat in the apartment to keep the bedrooms warm and slept well.
On the third day we got up, had some more armin pancakes and packed up our gear. As we were about to head out, I was finishing my morning stretches and some of the guys tried to join…how cute.
Today I mainly climbed with armin and we had a great day. We did sharp warm up, a fun tufa climb, a hard 7a+ boulder problem and then did a few hard overhanging pumpy routes in the grand grotto. We actually both flashed (finished on first try) a challenging, pumpy 7a in the grotto which was really fun.
Today Jo tried a 7c that the group used as a huge rope swing out of the cave. It looked pretty scary, but also really cool. I wanted to try it, but we ran out of time.
That night we decided to go to the restaurant Miltos that Joe and Ken really enjoyed again. Ken and I had a greek lasagne like dish called Pastisio and Joe had a lamb shank. In addition to our meals at Miltos we got free bread and fried dough balls covered in kalymnos honey and sesame seeds. Absolutely delicious!
–Meanwhile the others realized the second fish they got was not ready for cooking so Armin had to gut and scale the fish before they could have dinner. I didn’t see it, but Armin said it was quite a bit of work.
On the fourth day the Tyrolleans decided to take a rest day and rented scooters to explore the island. They ended up doing some deep water soloing, hiking and just riding around the city. At this point I felt tired, but really up for more climbing so i decided to climb with Joe & Ken.
We hiked up to the Ivory Tower area and did a few nice warm ups 6b and 6c+.
Then we headed to Kalynda and did a 40m– 7a. Where you had to completely bear hug a tufa a the top, find a few small divots to stand on and somehow make it to the big hold at the top. It was a bit scary, but also really fun.
After I the 7a we headed to a short 7a+ route in the Grande Grotto that was pretty fun, but also tiring.
On the hike back from the cliff we ran into the others coming back on the motorbikes speeding past us. Then again, as I was headed up the hill Armin passed on his way to get fresh fish from the other side of the island. Since I had not explored the island at all, I thought why not see more on the back of the motorbike even if it was at night. Only because Tobi was nice enough to bring my gear back to the apartment, I got the chance to hop on the back of armin’s scooter and head to the other side of the island with jo, hamelt and marvin.
When we arrived about 30 min later the place we wanted to go to was closed, so naturally we decided to focus our energy on finding a quality desert. We found a nice little bakery, with fresh eclairs and homemade chocolates. Lets just say…We bought a lot.
Then by surprise we found a fresh fish stand and bought a huge white tuna, as well as another smaller fish.
We rode the scooters back to the apartment and watching the city/buildings pass by was a much enjoyable ride. I was a bit chilly, but armin seemed to do well as a wind shield with his giant red puffy.
When we finally arrived back we still had to cook dinner. Armin took charge of the fish and I helped with the rest. All together we made: Garlic Bread — Mixed Veggies — Fresh Fish
In Kalymnos there was a large amount of stray cats always on the look out for food. Tonight one was waiting by the stairs and we had the fish skeleton so we decided to give the cat the fish bones with the leftover skin and meat…he was too scared to eat by us and instead pulled the skeleton through the gate at our stairs just out of view. When we awoke the next morning we found the fish skeleton completely stripped of any meat or skin. Seems like the little cat enjoyed the meal!
We woke up had oats/yogurt/break and took scooters to an area called Shikati Cave. I rode with Armin and as you can guess the scooters were not super high quality and new.. so ours sort of seemed weak, but we had to go up lots of pretty steep hills to make it to the trail head. At one point the scooter was so weak/overheated we actually got stuck. The others had to come back and rescue us, but at least when we got stuck there was a funny goat there staring us, chomping down on his grass– probably thinking oh these silly humans… what are they doing.
Hiking into the area I was a bit skeptical if we were going the right way, but we made it just fine to find a beautiful limestone cave in a large hole in the ground. It was really impressive and the routes were quite nice. There, I climbed 6a, 6c, 7a+, 7a+.
That night we hiked out as the sun was setting and had a few falls, but we all made it out okay. Armin and I barely had enough gas which was making me a tad nervous, but we made it just fine.
Today was Jo’s Birthday so we decided to have dinner out and we picked a nice restaurant on the main street. I had a delicious lamb stew and then after despite being tired I headed out with the guys to a bar. We sat and chatted for a few hours and at some point the guys of course had to take the sword off the wall and see who could hold it the longest. Then hamlet and lassa decided it was time to dance on the counters. Hamlet and Jo even fell asleep at the bar at one point. It was quite an entertaining night, to say the least.
The next morning was a bit slow post party, but once we were up we did a short day at the Odyssey Wall. Joe and Ken found us once the sun hit the wall and we met rannvey and tasha. Others from Colorado that joe knew before.
Today I climbed 6c, 7a and 7b. I really liked the style of this wall and had a nice half day even if I was tired and the weather was actually pretty windy.
We also saw a lot of goats today climbing along the cliffs with us. It was quite fun to see them near by, they may have just been searching for our food– but hey still they are good entertainment.
Today was a bit cold in the morning and although we figured out to warm up our bedrooms a few days earlier Armin decided the best idea for breakfast was to turn on the oven, open it and sit above it to keep warm…..I mean sure that works… definitely a bit odd i think– but it does work.
That morning everyone climbed at the Olympic Wall.. a bit of a longer approach, but a nice wall with quality routes. We climbed a 6b, 7a+, 7b and another 7b.
I focused on spending most of the day climbing with Joe and Ken since they were leaving the next day. The time had passed so quickly with them I could barely believe it. Must have been having too much fun!
That night everyone, but sara and lukas decided to eat at a new place called Aegean Tavern. Joe and Ken had already been there and loved it. Although it was a bit more expensive than the other places, we loved it. The food was incredible.. We were pretty hungry by the time we got to the restaurant so we decided to get a few appetizers and breads before our main dish. I ordered a sesame fresh tuna steak with beet pure and for desert we got this delicious homemade icecream and these small fried dough balls covered in kalymnos honey.
So today was the day Joe and Ken both left Kalymnos. Both of them had arrived a few days earlier than we had and it was time for them to head off. Joe off to Iceland and Ken home to Canada. That morning I felt really sore, not to mention the bumps, cuts and bruises all over. So considering I had about a week of climbing ahead I decided to take a rest day. The crew set out to the panorama wall and I stayed back while Joe and ken packed up.
As soon as all their stuff was ready to go we went over to Susan’s home, the person who rents olive studio apartments. We had a nice little chat with her, paid their room, returned their key and got them a taxi for the next ferry to Kos(the island most flights leave from).
Then I parted ways with Joe and Ken till next time. My time with them was wonderful, exploring, climbing, hiking and eating– but most important we laughed a lot along the way. I am really happy that Joe suggested I meet him in Kalymnos and I had the means to make it happen.
After they left I headed out to find the others. I spotted them easily along the cliff and spent the afternoon watching them climb. Towards the end of the session I ended up putting my shoes on and cleaning up one fun overhanging tufa route, but thats all.
As the sunset we all hiked down from the climbs, Armin and I were the slowest. We took our time walking and saw an adorable orange baby cat along the way. We tried to feed her the left over food, but she wasn’t too interested.
Then we headed back to the apartment and we had a nice dinner of pasta and muscles made by sara, lukas and tobi.
I woke up early and Armin was already awake in our room. We didn’t have much food for breakfast at the apartment so we went down to the down to town to find breakfast. We passed a few shops and decided on a quiet cafe along the main road. Armin ordered expresso and a Nutella pancake while I got a ham omelet. Both were pretty delicious and Armin claims the expresso was one of the best he ever had. Which means it had to be incredible since an Italian with such high standards for expresso said so, but I didn’t have one so.. we will never know.
While we sat at the shop and talked a bit to the owner he yelled out to a guy on his motorbike telling him that the roads were now all 2 way since it was after Nov 1… Personally i was still skeptical of this rule, but it was funny to hear that basically no rules applied in low tourist season.
Then we saw these amazing looking pastries that people had as they were heading to the cliffs. So naturally, we finished up our breakfast and went to search for the pastries. Quickly we found where they came from, a nice little shop with lots if homemade goodies. We surveyed all our options and bought 2 big savory pastries, as well as the homemade vanilla desert of course.
Since there was no where to sit at the shop we decided to head down to the beach. We found a nice tree to sit on and ate second breakfast while gazing out onto the small island of Telendos. We also enjoyed watching the small birds trying to get fish and the cats trying to hunt the birds. We had the beach completely to ourselves and it was very peaceful.
We walked along the beach collecting stones for armin’s bathroom? Who knows, but after we went back up to the town to the sponge store. In Kalymnos, Natural Sea Sponges are a very popular and well known for their high quality.
After this we went back to the apartment, found that Sara, lukas, jo and johannes had already gone climbing and decided on another rest day. Johannes had arrived while we were gone and went out climbing by the time we got back.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep.
Then a bit of headstands, stretching and yoga with armin. Lassa observed a bit.. but was not too interested in joining us.
When the sun set everyone headed back and and we all went out to dinner at Miltos. Then had a few drinks at the apartment before bed.
The next day everyone, but johannes and I were leaving and we went climbing at Panorama/Grand Grotto early in the morning. I did 6a+, 7a, 7a+, 7a
Then we went back, waited for the others to finish packing and said goodbye. After, Johannes and I took some time to shower, regroup and get groceries.
That night we he town, did some grocery shopping, browsed the gear shops and went back to the apartment to make a pasta for dinner.
Today we made a yogurt and oats breakfast, then headed out to climb. At first we started at the Kalynda area and did a nice 6b+. Afterwards we headed to Iannis where we did 7a, 7a+ and 7b+.
At Iannis we saw a nice spanish couple that I had met on the plane, we worked on some of the same routes as them and had a nice afternoon.
That night we went to dinner at Aegean Tavern again by far my favorite restaurant. Johannes had the Sesame tuna and I had the mushroom pork chop, which were both delicious. However, what Johannes really fell in love with was the homemade ice cream the served with the fried honeyballs.
The next day we decided to rent a scooter and head to new areas we had not seen. We started in the Arhi area and did many shorter routes: 6b+, 6b+, 7a, 7a and 7a+. The routes here were up an down to me, some I absolutely loved– but others I really disliked.
After a few hours the sun hit the wall and was pretty intense, so we fled to the Odyssey area. I did a 7a and then Johannes did another 7b.
Wednesday my skin and my body was really upset with me and we still had two more full days of climbing so I decided to take a rest day. Johannes however had just arrived this weekend and felt fine. So, first we spent most of the morning at Odyssey wall, while Johannes climbed.
Then before the sunset we headed to the other side of the island to explore a bit. We were on the hunt for fresh fish as the guys and I had before, yet the shop I went to before was closed.
So instead we just walked around by the boats, bought some deserts, browsed a few shops and made friends with an adorable little dog. This little guy followed us a few hundred feet and even waited outside the store for us to come back.
For dinner that night we made some pasta, fish from the grocery store and a mixed veggie dish. Then planned our next few days of climbing.
We had planned on only renting the scooter for two days… but this morning we decided to extend it for the rest of our stay to explore new areas only accessible by bike. In the morning we headed to Ghost Kitchen. An area known for beautiful tufa systems that you can easily sit on. We got there fairly early and did 6c, 7a and 7a+. I really enjoyed these routes, but by the end of the last route we were baking in the sun.
So we left the area and stopped for lunch some benches off the road. Then we decided to stop at odyssey for one or two more routes. We did one really exposed 7a and then Johannes did another 7b close by.
At the crag today we also got the chance to talk to Sasha Digiulian, a young professional female rock climber from the US and the first American female to climb 9a or 5.14d. Being a similar size and build to me I have always enjoyed watching her climb and admired her involvement in global projects such as The Indo project.
That night again we decided to go back to the Aegean Tavern and try out their Lamb for two. It was absolutely delicious and worth our money.
We ate breakfast and headed out for our final day of climbing and headed to an area called Secret Garden. It was said to be a mix of beautiful hanging tufa features and technical climbing. We tried 6b+, 6c, 7a, 7a+ and tried 7b+. Then Johannes got on one more 7b+ finished just as the sun was setting.
We hiked out to the road and made it back to apartment easily, even if we had to navigate in the dark around a bunch of sleeping goats .. who thought it was best to sleep in the middle of the road.
Finally, Saturday we got up early and headed to the airport. Me on my next adventure in Malta and Johannes back to grad school.
Kalymnos was a real sport climber paradise. I completely and totally fell in love. The town was lined with climbing stores, the restaurants with climber photos and guidebooks. I have never seen anything like it. It is easily top three places I have climbed in my life. I spent two weeks there and barely even touched the surface of routes. There are thousands’ of routes left to explore and I cannot wait to return soon. In addition to the beautiful place, I had a wonderful group to share the moments with! Would not have been half as fun without each and every one of them!