New to the world of climbing? GO VISIT KALYMNOS!
In search for new sport climbing challenges? GO VISIT KALYMNOS!
Kalymnos? Where in the world is that? Well it’s a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, very close to the coast of Turkey. Kos is probably know better by many people and is very close by. The island of Kalymnos is one big rock formation, but climbing was introduced only in the end of the 90’s. Since then things have changed fast, now the island is seen as the climbing Mecca of the world.
The island has so many options that there will be something for everyone. Well maybe not really everyone, the island focuses on sport climbing. There are a few multi pitches on the island, but not too many. If you are new to climbing and you have done your indoor courses and looking to step it up, Kalymnos might be ideal for you. Most easy routes are friendly bolted, harder routes are also bolted in such a way that you feel comfortable climbing the route and gives you the confidence to try your next move.
The 2015 guidebook describes approximately 2700 sports routes, at the time of writing (2016) there are more than 3000 bolted routes available. Where can you find all of these new routes? When you buy the guidebook, you will get a code for a free app. Another option is to not buy the guidebook, instead buy the Kalymnos Rock Climbing Topo app for about 5 euro’s. The full amount goes to the Glaros Bolting Fund, which supports the purchase of bolts to renew routes (to keep them safe) or to bolt new routes.
I will keep the following information short because I don’t want to rewrite the info that is already there. The Climb Kalymnos website is very informative and will give you all practical info that you will need once you’ve decided you want to go.
Traveling to Kalymnos
The easiest way to get there from pretty much anywhere in Europe is to take a charter flight directly to Kos. From Kos you take the ferry that will take you across in about half an hour. You can read more about the various options on the Climb Kalymnos website.
Where to stay
Masouri is the most popular town to stay in for climbers. This mainly has to do with the fact that you can reach quite a few nice crags directly walking from the town. Also this is the town where most restaurants and bars are situated. Of course the apartment owners noticed that everybody wants to stay in Masouri also, so prices are highest on this part of the island. It’s not astronomically high but if you are on a tight budget this makes things a bit harder. On the other hand if you decide to stay in a different town you will need a scooter or a car.
My personal opinion is that you don’t want to be stuck in Masouri without transportation, there are so many beautiful crags out there to discover. Although I have to say that there are busses running on the island to get you to a load of climbing areas. I have never tried them, so no info on that.
If you have an 80 m. rope, bring it. There are many beautiful routes that are close to 40 meters long. With a 70 m. rope you can still enjoy many routes on the island, but 60 m. is not ideal at all. With 14 quickdraws you would be able to climb most of the routes on the island, but the long routes might demand more quickdraws. It’s also a good plan to have some longer quickdraws especially when you are climbing easier grade routes.
You might find a lot of people climbing without helmets on the island, but some crags have quite a bit of loose rock on them and then there are the goats. The goats are everywhere and they might also be above you, they are not really careful when walking around. So the mantra is, wear a helmet.
Most routes are equipped with a clip carabiner. This is really easy because you don’t have to re-thread your rope through the anchor. But…. not all routes are equipped in this way, so always make sure you have enough gear with you to be able to re-thread your rope. When you are top-roping make sure you place extra gear in top to prevent the fixed lower-off from wearing out.
Can’t find a climbing partner back home? Have a look around at the Climb Kalymnos Forum. Many people travel to the island alone. The first time I went I left a message on the forum and found almost 10 people to climb with. I’ve had the best fun ever meeting new people from all over the world. Once you get there and you are in need of a climbing partner go and have breakfast or an after climbing drink at Fatolitis (known for the ball of shoes hanging out front). It’s the biggest after climbing gathering spot, and all very relaxed people. So have a Mythos and mingle with the people there, and for sure you’ll have a climbing partner for the next day.
The island offers a wide variety of climbing. Slabs, tufa, face, deep water solo, multi pitch, via feratta, it’s all there. Besides the main island of Kalymnos there is also the island of Telendos, very close and easy to reach by a short boat ride. Many of the crags are reached from the road in a maximum of a 15 min walk. This makes it very ideal to not stay put on one crag all day long. When the weather is hot it’s ideal to start in the morning in the shade, once the sun comes out on the rock take some time to relax and in the afternoon head out to a different crag that is in the shade in the afternoon.
Deep water soloing can be done from the harbour of Vathy. Get a canoe or a boat and paddle out into the beautiful gulf of Vathy. There are multiple places where you can climb out there, it’s all in the guidebook.
You might not be that confident while climbing. Or you might feel that you can push things a bit further than you are doing right now, but don’t know how to get there. A climbing course might be a good plan while you visit Kalymnos. There are quite a few options on courses and guides to do these courses with.
If you are fairly new to the climbing world and you want to work on your confidence, and don’t have any hassle with organizing your stay and transportation get in touch with Andy from Serac Outdoor Sports. He is usually on Kalymnos in spring and autumn for several weeks. Besides that he organizes climbing trips in Mallorca, Costa Blanca, his home country, the UK and many other places. With his 20 years of experience you will get your money’s worth.
If you want to work on your technique get in touch with Tania from Climb Mediterranean or Simon from Kalymnos Climbing Guide. They are both French and speak very good English. They offer different kind of courses so you can improve the points that you feel you need to. Tania also offers a ladies only climbing course, which sounds awesome to me.
What else to do?
There are many other things to do on the island when you are bringing family that doesn’t climb or you just want a resting day. There are quite a few beaches all around the island, most of them have a bar out there too so ideal for relaxing in between or after climbing. Don’t forget to check out the beaches of Emporios and Palionisos, they are stunning.
Another great thing to do is to rent a scooter and make a full round on the island. The view is amazing, especially when you look down on the valley of Vathy. In spring the landscape is at it’s most beautiful. The winter rains make sure that everything is nice and green in spring, the thyme is flowering at that time.
Hiking is also an option on the island. A 100 km trail, called The Kalymnos Trail, has been laid out over the island, visiting beautiful sceneries. I have not done any hiking on this trail, but it’s still on my wishlist. Find more info on it on the website listed below.
More ideas on what to do besides climbing can be found on the Climb Kalymnos website.
Resole your climbing shoes
Because the island is so popular with climbing, there are many people around who decided to leave their old life behind and move permanently to Kalymnos and start their own businesses. One of those people is Mike from Kalymnos Resole. He does the best resoling job that I’ve seen so far. So bring your old shoes and get them resoled while you are having fun out on the rock.
Climb Kalymnos – http://climbkalymnos.com/
Kalymnos Resole – https://www.facebook.com/Kalymnos-Resole-820853098013175/
Glaros Snack Bar – https://www.facebook.com/GlarosSnackBar/
Kalymnos Rock Climbing Topo app – http://thesend.co.uk/kalymnos-rock-climbing-topo/
Serac Outdoor Sports – https://www.facebook.com/seracoutdoorsports/
Climb Mediterranean – https://www.facebook.com/climbmediterranean/?fref=ts
Kalymnos Climbing Guide – https://www.facebook.com/kalymnosclimbing/?pnref=lhc