__We are working on digitalizing the update of this book.__ -------------- __Kalymnos: A never-ending story__ There are places capable of leaving extraordinarily intense memories. And when you are in those places again, you feel disoriented until you realize that it is happening—it is for real. For us, Kalymnos is one of those places on earth. The ritual is always the same. A flight above Southeastern Europe inland, the bird’s eye view of the Athens port, the amazing land features in the Aegean Sea, an immense pastel painting with a strong blue cast, the descent, and the final approach. Once landed in the “big sister” Kos, it begins with moving to Mastichari, then waiting for the ferry on the long pier. The silhouette of Kalymnos appears in the distance as soon as the ship leaves the port and heads north. While the island is getting closer and closer, we get to look around, and we scan the people on board, wondering how many of them are climbers. Usually it is not difficult to know. Half an hour later, Kalymnos closes the horizon and the ship docks in Pothia, a nice town, similar to many others on the Greek Islands. Leaving the harbor behind; north is the direction. At the top of the hill in Kamari, another world unfolds in front of us: the sea, the rock, the sky, the villages, Telendos on the left…a gigantic sentinel towering over the water. We know why we are here. I do not remember exactly how many times we’ve been to Kalymnos over the years. We have visited the island in almost every season. Each time we go down the steep curves, discovering the northern part of the island—at that exact point, something changes inside of us. It is like a light that turns on, spreading a warm, enjoyable sense of well-being through our bodies. At that moment in time, we feel immersed in a new chapter of a never-ending story. Kalymnos remains a combination of factors in its fascination and appeal. The traditional charm of the Greek Islands meets a simplicity of life here that we, the climbers, love. Notwithstanding the continual touristic development, it’s still nothing compared with other more famous touristic destinations, like Kos, just a few miles to the south. True, some crags might be overcrowded on occasion during the peak seasons. Nevertheless, most of the time you feel comfortable among your peers, as we all share the same passion. And, after all, there is still plenty of rock where only a few people go. These are the feelings I get when I hold the new Kalymnos guidebook in my hands. Obviously, I also get a strange tingling in my fingers. Memories of sending and failures come flooding in, and I am caught by compelling new challenges. The 2023 guidebook testifies to the vitality of the island and its attraction. After more than two decades and thousands of visitors, it is definitely far from any decline. Katie and Aris respect the origins and present this book in their usual spectacular layout, with colorful pictures and precise, detailed descriptions of spots and routes. It is a titanic effort, but this work displays old, famous, and celebrated crags side by side with unknown, forgotten, and brand-new rocks. The Kalymnos guidebook is a testament to the apparently inexhaustible rock playground the island offers. Every edition discloses new crags and new routes. Believe it or not, yes, it is a never-ending story. We are delighted to live moments of this story, on both paper and reality. The book continues the tradition and makes our memories vivid, and, at the same time, it fuels the desire to return to Kalymnos. It is made for those who feel at home on that tiny island off the main tourist routes. For those who want that feeling of being back where they belong. For those who love the wind, brilliant light, colorful rocks, red sun dipping into the sea…and for those who do not give up on their never-ending climbs. Kalymnos calling. Marco Scolaris President, International Federation of Sport Climbing ------------- __Nice to see you (again), everyone!__ It’s been 24 years since my life-changing Kalymnos journey began. Still in the midst of it now, I wake up every day realizing how lucky I am that this little island found me. It allows me to climb, bolt, research, and write—in other words, spend my time doing what I love most. I’ve made countless new friends, sent (and failed to send) exciting projects, and been met with some turbulence along the way, but, most of all, I have understood what it feels like to belong. The Kalymnos guidebook is a labor of love and a massive undertaking all at once. It is a job that never stops and has real physical, emotional, and financial costs. So why make another one? Isn’t Kalymnos spent, all the good crags already taken? The answer is a resounding “no.” Kalymnos is alive and kicking and still able to surprise. Some of the new crags published in this edition are truly special, and some new routes so good that it makes you wonder how they managed to hide in plain sight for so long. Here’s what you will find in the following pages: Improved usability thanks to an entirely new layout; even clearer approach instructions thanks to new, aerial crag panoramas and QR codes pointing to exact locations; an alphabetical route index in addition to the ever-popular crag planner; all-new photo-topos for most crags; and, as always, the free digital version of the full guide plus 40 additional app-only crags in the Vertical-Life app included with this book. New crags in this edition include: Pezonda and its sub-sectors Valhalla, Eora Cave, Lemon Crumble Wall, Peanut Wall, and Great Escape (50 new shaded routes on the wild northeast side of Kalymnos); the dreamy Little Eden (36 routes full of character, and steps away from the beach); Heroes, at the highest point above Skalia (27 new routes in small caves and walls with views to die for); and Griffig, the underdog that catapulted its way to the top of the bestseller list thanks to meticulous equipping and great conditions. The list goes on to include brand-new sub-sectors or improvements at established crags: Meltemi (Poets) was rebolted and expanded with 20 new routes on quality vertical walls, small overhangs, and compact slabs; La Vague (Aghios Mamas) is a new sub-sector that features an impressive cave with wave-like formations and fresh, high-quality orange rock; Apache Gorge is a new sub-sector high up in the gully above Sea Breeze with 25 steep routes; and smaller sub-sectors Hercules and Chinese Wall (Prophitis Andreas), Rina (Vathy), Sevasti (Cave), Indian’s Face (Noúfaro), Zoidis (Pescatore), Aegean Islands (Ghost Kitchen), and Seven Dwarfs (Ivory Tower) all add value and variety to their crags. Last but not least, dozens of individual new routes have gone up at established crags. Sectors Afternoon and Aegean Sea Wall have 20 new routes each; Olympic Wall and Ocean Dream boast new adventurous multi-pitches; Upper Noúfaro is expanded and renamed “Almodóvar.” Big Shadow was rebolted and cleaned, and new routes were added. Arginonta Valley has new routes at Diagoras Cave, Alani Wall, Rock Tragos, and Comic Tree. Arginonta, Odyssey, Arhi Left, Balcony Helvetia, Paradise Beach, Ourania Cave, White Shark, Thalassa Left, Piccalia, Pocket Wall, and Milianos all have new routes. There is non-stop work happening in the background to keep things going, and of course there is always room for improvement—but the direction of Kalymnos is clearly forward. Bolts and anchors used in most new development, as well as necessary rebolting, were bought thanks to guidebook proceeds. Our website, Climb Kalymnos, has been informing climbers for 14 years. Your support of the Kalymnos guidebook makes it all possible. Aris April 2023 -------------- __Logistics__ __Basics__ • Population: 17,797 (2021) • Capital: Pothia • Area size: 134.5km2 • Highest elevation: 676m • Time zone: gmt + 2 • Currency: Euro Kalymnos is the fourth largest of the Dodecanese Islands, a group of islands in the southeast Aegean Sea. It is located 183 nautical miles (339km) southeast of Athens, and 85 nautical miles (157km) northwest of Rhodes, the largest of the islands. Many smaller islands nearby include, most notably, Telendos, Pserimos, and Plati. The capital of Kalymnos is Pothia, a traditional yet lively town on the east coast, which doubles as the island’s main port. Ironically, in the past, Kalymnos was known as isola umbrosa, or “island of shade.” That is no longer the case. Trees do exist, but the island is mainly covered with low, dense maquis vegetation and fragrant woody herbs that thrive in the unrelenting sun (thyme, summer savory, oregano, sage). The terrain is mountainous, with a major rock escarpment all along the west coast. For centuries, this sparse and steep terrain—now so coveted by climbers—forced the locals to sea. Kalymnian men became sponge divers for a living, and they excelled in this traditional (yet highly risky) occupation to such an extent that Kalymnos became the most celebrated sponge trade center in the Mediterranean until the decline of the sponge trade in the 1980s. Still, among Greeks, Kalymnos is most famous as the “sponge divers’ island,” and its history will forever be linked to that little sea creature. __Getting there__ _Option 1 (best):_ Kos to Kalymnos. Fly to the international airport of nearby Kos (kgs), then take a local ferry to Kalymnos (30–50 minutes). This option is the quickest and most cost-effective for the majority of climbers, as numerous European airlines (including low-cost) operate direct flights to touristy Kos, especially between spring and autumn. From Kos, simply take a taxi or the infrequent airport bus to Mastichari (a small port 7km from the airport). Local ferries between Mastichari and Pothia (main port of Kalymnos) run every few hours, so you may have to nurse a beer while you wait for the next ferry. The local ferries between Kos and Kalymnos run 365 days a year. Their timetables are notoriously hard to pin down, and they change often (scan QR code for more). Ferries only stop on days with very strong winds (not often, but it happens). In this case, don’t panic: wait in Mastichari (there are places to eat, drink, and hang out) until sea travel is restored. On arrival at Pothia, there will be taxis waiting at the pier for local transportation. (There is also an island bus service, but it can be erratic). From Pothia, the west coast villages where most climbers stay are a 15–20-minute drive. _Option 2 (good, not great):_ Athens to Kalymnos. From Athens, take either a regional flight from the Athens airport (ath) to Kalymnos (jkl) or a multi-hour, usually overnight ferry from Piraeus port (main port of Athens) to Kalymnos. Ferries from Piraeus to Kalymnos operate year-round, usually three to four times per week, and take anywhere from 10 to 14 hours. This option is best for those already in Athens who want to bring a car (not really recommended). Flights directly from Athens to the regional airport of Kalymnos operate three to five times per week and take about 50 minutes. This is a convenient option, but a) flights are not cheap, and b) flights are more likely to be cancelled due to adverse weather. __Accommodation__ Almost all types of accommodation are available on Kalymnos. These include basic rooms at good value; nicer rental studios or apartments with kitchenettes and more amenities; small family-owned hotels; and, true to recent trends, more and more “boutique” accommodations. Whichever option you choose, you can expect a balcony or terrace and views that range from beautiful to stunning. The one thing you will not find on Kalymnos is large, mass-tourism resorts. Compared to most other Greek islands, at the time of this writing Kalymnos still offers great value for money, even in the peak summer tourism months of July and August, when prices in the Greek Islands are highest. _Camping is not an option_. There’s no designated campsite on Kalymnos, and unregulated free camping is strictly prohibited. _Which villages are closest to the crags?_ Kalymnos is a relatively small island, and the crags are never too far away. That said, the island’s west and northwest coasts sit in the shadow of its trademark red/grey limestone. The main climbing hub on Kalymnos is Masouri, a village on the west coast directly opposite Telendos island. Together with adjacent villages Myrties to the south and Armeos to the north, Masouri is where most options for accommodation, restaurants, mini markets, and climbing shops can be found. Other reasons climbers prefer the west coast: a) it is possible to walk almost everywhere, i.e. many different crags, beaches, shops, restaurants, and the Myrties jetty for catching the boat to Telendos; b) it is the best location for meeting other climbers; c) those legendary Telendos sunsets you see in other people’s photos can be enjoyed daily from your own balcony. _Masouri is not the only choice._ As high-quality climbing spreads to other parts of the island, so too do accommodation options. Arginonta, Skalia, and Emporios (northwest) are quieter and less developed than Masouri, but more traditional and also close to major crags and beaches. Panormos, Kantouni, Linaria, and Platis Gialos (south) are only a bit further from the main climbing areas, but closer to the airport and port, and still very close to beaches. _Accommodation is best booked in advance._ If you plan to visit between April and October, the sooner you make arrangements the better. Most hotels and other rentals close from mid-November to late March (more or less), but there are still year-round options, including longer-term rentals for digital nomads or one-way-ticket travelers. ---------------- __Local Info__ __Getting around__ A scooter or moped is most climbers’ choice for getting around on the island. Scooter rental shops are ubiquitous; however, as with accommodation, if you plan to visit in peak climbing season (April/May and September/October), booking a scooter in advance is a great idea. Car or bicycle rentals are also options, though scooter rentals outnumber them. Lastly, a local bus connects the west and northwest coasts to the capital, but it is infrequent and not very convenient. _Helmets and driving licenses:_ Both are required. If renting a bicycle or scooter, the shop should be able to provide helmets as well as advance information about driving license specifics. (We Greeks still largely ride without helmets, for a variety of lame excuses. Do not do as we do.) __Healthcare__ _Hospital and doctors:_ The public hospital on Kalymnos is located near Pothia, on the outbound road from Pothia to Hora. There are numerous private doctor practices (including pediatricians, if you have kids) and medical labs as well. Most doctors speak a reasonable amount of English. _Pharmacies_ abound on Kalymnos. Most are in the direction of Pothia. The pharmacy closest to Masouri is in Elies village, opposite the roundabout. Pharmacies have strict opening hours, but by law there will always be a pharmacy that stays open after hours and on holidays (it’s a rotation between all pharmacies, not the same pharmacy every time). If you need a pharmacy after closing hours, just stop at any pharmacy window and there will be a notice pointing to the pharmacies with extended hours for the week. If the notice is in Greek, get creative: ask a passerby on the street to translate, take a photo of the notice to the nearest open shop and ask—you will find a way. Most locals speak basic English or other languages, and all, without exception, will be eager to help. __Other local info__ _Payment methods and ATM machines:_ Cash is still the default payment method in Greece, but after the covid pandemic, credit cards and contactless payment methods became considerably more widespread. Most shops and bigger hotels accept them. Smaller family-run accommodations may not, so ask in advance. ATM machines can be found in Masouri, Myrties, Elies, and Pothia. To avoid extra fees, look for bank ATMs (Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank, Eurobank, National Bank of Greece). “Euronet” ATMs charge fees for cash withdrawals on top of your own bank fees. In Masouri, there is a Piraeus Bank ATM next to Vouros pastry. _Gas/petrol stations:_ The closest ones to Masouri are in Elies village (5–7 minute drive), otherwise there are many in the direction of Pothia, the main port. _Wi-Fi and 5G:_ Free Wi-Fi is very widely available. Most rental studios, hotels, and cafés will have it, and most parts of the island have 5G coverage. For prepaid SIM cards and mobile data, your best bet in terms of price and coverage is a card from the cosmote shop (Greece’s largest carrier) in Pothia. _Police station:_ You are unlikely to need it. But just in case you do, it is on the main inbound road to Pothia, just before the taxi station. The EU emergency number, 112, is free to call from any telephone. _Washing services/laundry:_ Ask your landlord if laundry services are available for a fee at your rental, otherwise there is a coin-operated, self-service laundromat on the main road in Masouri. _Food and grocery shopping:_ Masouri and Myrties are full of mini-markets selling food, drinks, gifts, the guidebook, and so on. Elies village (5–7 minute drive) is the nearest alternative for a larger supermarket, gas, and pharmacy. Beyond that, Pothia has everything. _Toilet paper:_ It cannot be flushed down the toilet anywhere in Greece, including Kalymnos. Tap water: You cannot drink tap water on Kalymnos. It comes from groundwater wells, and it is brackish, meaning lightly salty. (We have Italian neighbors, and they use tap water to cook their spaghetti because “it saves you from salting the pasta water.” Personally, our microbiomes are less adventurous.) The two options for drinking and cooking water are a) temak, large metal water containers at each village dispensing purified water, and b) store-bought bottled water. The first option, temak, is free and more sustainable. Masouri, Myrties, Elies, and Arginonta each have a temak container: in Masouri, it is opposite Ambiance Café; in Myrties, opposite the church and Aphrodite Studios; in Arginonta, opposite Teo Taverna; and in Elies, at the roundabout. The downside with temak is that it requires some effort and planning: you need empty bottles or containers, there is only one dispenser per village, and you must haul your water containers to and from the machine. The second option, of course, is bottled water. In Greece the price of bottled water is capped, so it is both relatively inexpensive and convenient. Sadly, the mountains of waste produced by all that plastic cannot (after all these years) be recycled on Kalymnos. They go straight into the trash. ---------------- __Downtime__ __Kalymnian cuisine and local products__ The food on Kalymnos is simple, good, inexpensive, and, as with most other places in Greece, eating out is as much—if not more—about the experience as it is about the food itself. Breakfast is not for Greeks; but the dinner table, especially, is a focal point around which togetherness, community, raised voices and laughter abound. At the heart is hospitality, where one’s own people and strangers alike are cared for, commingling through the late nights and the fights over the bill. Restaurants on the more tourist-oriented west coast of Kalymnos cater to climbers and other visitors with a high degree of professionalism and flexibility, and chances are that you won’t feel the need to go further off the culinary beaten track. But if you are so inclined, take a late afternoon or evening and seek out little places in Pothia, Hora, Platanos, Vlychadia, or the other small villages outside the boundaries of the climbing map and mingle with the Kalymnians. And if you are keen to taste the less streamlined, more authentic Kalymnian flavors beyond a gyros plate, chicken souvlaki, mousaka, or calamari—all available—you should also try mouoúri (goat stuffed with spiced rice and slow-cooked overnight in a clay pot); goat prepared any other way (usually in a tomato- or lemon-based stew); octopus “balls” (not those balls—these are just deep-fried octopus fritters); mermizeli (a Greek salad that includes the usual suspects—tomato, cucumber, onion, olives—with added barley rusks and summer savory); local yogurt and cheese; figs; thyme honey; and an assortment of more esoteric seafood like sea squirts and a variety of clams, which you may be able to find at small local eateries. Keep an open mind and go for the onsight! __Families and active rest days__ The Greek culture is very family-oriented, and locals in every small community will go out of their way to accommodate families with children. On the other hand, family-friendly infrastructure is lacking. Sidewalks are practically nonexistent on Kalymnos, roads are narrow, traffic is busy, and walking with children requires extra care. The best place for families with young children is Telendos, which is small and contained and where there are no cars. Boats to Telendos depart every 30 minutes from the jetty at Myrties. The boat ride alone is something most children love and look forward to. _Archaeological sites and museums:_ There are castles of considerable archaeological interest on Kalymnos. The 11th-century Castle of Hora, near sector Dodoni, was inhabited until the early 18th century. Chrysocheria Castle, located prominently between Hora and Pothia, was built by the Order of the Knights of St. John; there is evidence of continuous human presence since the Neolithic era in the castle’s surroundings. Three stone-built windmills are nearby. Other important archaeological sites are scattered throughout the island, such as the foundations of the ancient acropolis of Pothia; ancient and Paleochristian ruins in Vathy; and Byzantine and Paleochristian ruins on the island of Telendos. The island’s museums are small but fascinating. In Pothia, the Archaeological Museum features prehistoric, classical, and private collections alongside the preserved interior of a 19th-century Kalymnian mansion; the Museum of Marine Finds (Vlychadia), exhibits assorted items found underwater or salvaged from sunken ships; the Sponge Diving Museum (Pothia) is a poignant introduction to the island’s centuries-old marine history and culture; and the Kalymnian Home (Vothyni) is a private folk art museum which replicates daily life in a traditional local home in previous centuries. _Day trips to nearby islands:_ Besides Telendos, islands to visit for a day are Leros, Kos, and Pserimos. Or you could hire a sailing boat (with or without crew) and explore the rugged northeast coast of Kalymnos and the nearby islands, and if you want to cross international waters, there are boats making daily excursions to Bodrum, Turkey. __Outdoor activities__ _Beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving:_ There are beaches all around the island, most pebbled, including a small nudist beach on Telendos. Masouri beach is one of the few sandy beaches on Kalymnos, and it gets quite busy in summer. The beaches at Platys Gialos, Myrties, Arginonta, Kalamies (the “Pirate” beach), Emporios, and Palionisos are all worth exploring, as are the Vathy fjord and Vlychadia Bay further out. Basic masks, snorkels, and fins can be bought at the tourist shops and some mini markets. Watch out for sea urchins and passing boats (don’t stray too far from the coast). Scuba lessons are offered by several professional instructors on Kalymnos. _Caves:_ Kalymnos has numerous caves decorated with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Prehistoric findings indicate that many of these caves were ancient ritual sites. Worth special mention are Kefala Cave, near Pothia; Daskalio Cave at Vathy; “Underworld” at Skalia village, near sector Cave; and the Cave of the Seven Virgins, in the depths of which, according to local lore, seven maidens disappeared trying to flee from the pirates. _Hiking:_ Among various hiking options, very worthwhile is The Kalymnos Trail, a multi-day trail linking mountain tops, remote beaches, archaeological sites, caves, lively villages, and ancient castles and towns via a continuous link along the best footpaths of the island. terrain maps publishes both The Kalymnos Trail and a hiking map detailing all major trails of Kalymnos and Telendos. Look for the book or map at shops in Masouri or online. ---------------- __Climbing__ __How it all began__ In the summer of 1996, an unsuspecting climber named Andrea Di Bari visited Kalymnos from Italy for a non-climbing family holiday. One day he made it to the west coast of Masouri and looked up. We imagine his jaw hit the ground with an audible thump. He went back home, grabbed a drill and a group of friends, and together they returned to Kalymnos in 1997 to equip the first 43 routes, mostly at sector Arhi. On the heels of Andrea Di Bari, our own Aris Theodoropoulos (a mountain guide from mainland Greece and the main author of this topo) came to Kalymnos. Aris, in his mid-thirties at the time, had already amassed considerable experience opening both trad and sport routes throughout Greece. He liaised with the local authorities, communicated the potential of their island as a climbing destination, and collaborated with the municipality to implement a set of measures for the proper development and promotion of climbing on Kalymnos. Aris published the first Kalymnos guidebook in 2000 to coincide with the first ever local climbing festival. Subsequently, nearly 10 more climbing festivals were organized in the period between 2000–2019, the turning point being Petzl’s RocTrip in 2006, which brought the biggest names in climbing at the time to Kalymnos. The North Face also sponsored three consecutive festivals (2012–14), and since then, the local municipality has been putting together small-scale events with some regularity. __At the crag: dos and don’ts__ Bring a wrench. The wind can cause nuts to come loose and hangers spin, especially when quickdraws are left on routes. Most climbers try to tighten them with bare hands, but a wrench is better, inexpensive, and convenient. A 17mm x 19mm double box-end wrench, like the one pictured, is ideal, and you would be helping your local equippers with basic crag maintenance. _Help with gardening._ Weeds, thorns, and woody shrubs often grow in holds and footholds of routes that don’t get many ascents, especially in springtime. Besides obstructing the holds and footholds, vegetation may also conceal loose rock. A pair of gloves is a good thing to have at the crag anyway and, again, you’d be helping your local equippers with very basic crag maintenance. _Avoid skin irritants._ The Ruta graveolens plant (common rue, photo on right) can cause severe burn-like skin blisters if you touch it when it is flowering. The milk of fig trees, which grow profusely on the island, can also cause irritation when coming in contact with bare skin. And mosquitoes are a persistent annoyance most months of the year. Every shop on Kalymnos sells bug spray, but if you are particular about what you use, bring your own. _Don’t feed the goats._ Goats are everywhere on Kalymnos, especially at the crags. They are not hungry, so don’t feed them. Local goats are perfectly accustomed to climbers, and they stop at nothing when food is near. They are masters of food theft, even food sealed in a wrapper. If you think a goat can’t open your backpack, you are wrong. Always keep it tightly shut, and don’t let your guard down. _Belay with sturdy shoes._ Lots of belayers are seen wearing flip flops (and belaying sitting down, which is just as bad). Think of a likely scenario in which the lead climber falls and the belayer flies off the ground and slams into the rock. That’s bad enough; why also break toes or have skin ripped off the soles of your feet? It is entirely preventable. __Crag Etiquette__ _On your way to the crag:_ • Park your scooter or car in a sensible manner. Don’t block the path, the access to homes or private land, or any other private property. • Stay on the path. Do not take shortcuts. Going off path can be dangerous. • Close all gates behind you. The gates are there for local shepherds to manage their goats and sheep. We must all help. _At the crag:_ • Be nice. Keep your voices down; don’t play loud music; keep an eye on your children; and fly drones responsibly and only with permission from other climbers at the crag. • Be considerate. Clean your chalk marks with a brush when you are finished climbing a route. Don’t keep routes “on reserve” for hours by leaving ropes and/or quickdraws on them, unless you are prepared to let other climbers use them as well. • Smokers, if you must smoke at the crag, don’t do it next to other climbers. And collect all your cigarette litter: cigarette filters take decades to degrade, and their toxic residue damages the environment. • Use best practices when pooping and peeing. Walk at least 100m from the cliff and path. Dig a hole and do your business. Pack out any toilet paper or wipes and take with you. Cover hole with dirt and rocks. (Certain crags, such as Rock n Roll Cave at Arginonta Valley, have sections on terraces high off the ground accessed by via ferrata steps. Do not use the terrace as a toilet. Go back down.) _Before leaving the crag:_ • Leave No Trace. Pick up all garbage, including what others may have left behind. Leave the crag better than you found it. __Route character__ Kalymnos is a sport climbing venue, and routes are graded according to the French grading system. There is no bouldering or trad climbing on the island. However, there are several very good fully bolted multi-pitches on Kalymnos and Telendos, some going all the way to the top of the cliff. The rock on Kalymnos is limestone of the very best quality. It can be a bit sharp in places, but it is free of choss (i.e. rotten, loose rock). The rock is varied, and the climbing is full of character: balancy slabs, delicate walls, pumpy routes with pockets, stalactites or tufas on overhanging rock and roofs. Kalymnian rock seems to come in three varieties: extremely overhanging with blobs, stalactites, and tufas (which can still be “just” 7a, even at a 20-degree angle); slightly overhanging or vertical smooth white/orange walls with pockets and smaller tufa features; and sharp grey slabs full of water pockets (gouttes d’eau) with little iron knobs cemented into the matrix. The best of the routes can combine all three types of rock in one pitch. Equally important is the fact that the limestone is showing fewer signs of polish compared to some other well-known climbing areas in Europe. This situation will be slow to change given the particularly rough surface of the rock. Most routes are about 30m long on average, but there are several longer single pitches up to 40m, even some up to 60m long. Additionally, there are several multi-pitches up to five pitches long, and fully bolted yet adventurous long routes that go to the top of the south face of Telendos up to 11 pitches long. _“Kalymnos-style” bolting:_ Many climbers have described the equipping of routes on Kalymnos as the gold standard of sport climbing. Routes are bolted with stainless steel bolts in a generally sensible and encouraging manner. Bolting on Kalymnos has been intentional almost from the start, the goal being to include every climber regardless of age, climbing ability, or experience. To this end, on most routes the bolts are relatively close together, the first three bolts are close to the ground and to each other for reducing the risk of ground falls, and most anchors on Kalymnos have clippable permanent carabiners instead of closed rings. Equal attention is being directed to the proper cleaning of routes from vegetation and loose rock. Purists complaining about “too many bolts” on Kalymnos seem to forget that there is no helicopter rescue in Greece. In case of an accident, the injured climber cannot be airlifted, but instead can only be transported to an ambulance and from there to the local hospital. Plenty of runout venues exist in the world for enjoying the sport without clipping all those annoying bolts. Kalymnos is not one of them. _Equipping new routes:_ In 2016, based on Kalymnos equipping standards, the Hellenic Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing (eooa) issued a set of guidelines that must be followed when equipping and rebolting sport routes in Greece to ensure a minimum of best bolting practices and hardware quality. To read the equipping guidelines in detail, scan QR code above. __Seasons__ The dry climate of Kalymnos makes year-round climbing possible. Some seasons, naturally, are better than others. Autumn is ideal, and it is no surprise that October is peak climbing season. Mild weather and comfortable temperatures make it possible to climb all day. It doesn’t typically rain at all in September and October, and from mid-October until late November conditions tend to be optimal. Spring is nearly as good as autumn. The sea is too cold for swimming, and the chance of rain is higher—but Kalymnian rock generally dries fast. Hills are green, glorious, and fragrant. If the previous winter has been rainy, the tufas may be seeping. Stalactites will sometimes drip in the spring (as they are softer, they are more likely to break; handle with care). You can climb inside the caves when it rains, but not during a thunderstorm. Winters are not bad. Kalymnos has a lot of premium south-facing crags, particularly between Arginonta and Emporios, which are perfect for climbing on cold winter days. Mild sunny days are frequent in winter. A few restaurants and rental studios in Masouri stay open year-round. Choices will be limited, but there are still places to eat and sleep. Summers are better than you’d think. The obvious rule is to always climb in the shade. Some very popular crags (Secret Garden, Arginonta Valley, Little Eden, Griffig, Pezonda to name a few) stay in the shade almost all day. They often enjoy cool breezes, and you may even need long sleeves for belaying in the shade. __Climbing with kids__ Kids are always at risk of serious injury, even death, from falling or ricocheting rock—even when wearing helmets or staying clear of the cliffs. There are goats at every crag, often traversing quietly above the cliffs. Rockfall can ensue without warning. Wind or rain can also dislodge rock. In this guidebook, the authors assess each crag’s “kid friendliness.” This is an opinion, not a guarantee. The responsibility for children’s safety at the crags rests solely with their parents or other supervising adults. __Grades, stars, and descriptions__ Considerable efforts have been made toward consistent grading on Kalymnos, but because routes are equipped by climbers from all over the world (and some of these routes have yet to see their second ascent), some grades will inevitably change. _Grade distribution on Kalymnos:_ One of the greatest things about Kalymnos is that there is something for everyone, as shown in the graph above. Grades range from 3a to 9a. A little over half of the routes on Kalymnos are up to 6b+, more than a third of all routes are between 6a–6b+, but there are also nearly 900 routes graded 7b and up. At this writing, the hardest confirmed grade is 9a (los revolucionarios, sector Odyssey, redpointed by Adam Ondra in 2009). Many projects are expected to be harder than 9a. _Star ratings:_ Part of the Kalymnos guidebooks since the first edition, star ratings are intended as a tool for helping climbers sift through thousands of choices. One of the main advantages is highlighting routes that are bad in a specific way. Stars are not intended to steer all climbers to the same routes. For repeat visitors, star ratings (especially the “musical notes”) aim to highlight excellent new lines that are typically at faraway crags these climbers might not otherwise visit, or worthwhile harder climbs (typically 8a+ and above) that are at a low risk of polishing due to the grade’s inherent limitations. For first-time visitors, stars aim to highlight the key starting points for a full Kalymnos experience. Imagine your first day on an island with four thousand plus climbs. Where to start? It is easy to dismiss star ratings as being filtered through the authors’ personal biases and preferences—and of course those come into play. But most of the factors that elevate the aesthetic value of a climb are specific and hard to dispute: a route’s natural line; the rock’s color and texture; a flowing sequence of moves; a consistent level of difficulty; and quality rock that is solid, without loose parts or obstructive vegetation. Star ratings aside, some routes and sectors are destined to be extensively—even excessively—climbed. The 6b+ route harakiri is the only easier route in an archipelago of harder classic climbs at Spartacus; of course it’s everybody’s warm-up. The long wave of caves and gorgeous walls that is sector Odyssey sits in full view a stone’s throw away from the main road; of course tens of thousands of climbers flock to it. Good routes in plain sight attract climbers like bees to honey, with or without stars. It’s the rest of them—new and faraway, excellent but hidden, mediocre, bad, or downright dangerous routes—that could use the extra nugget of info-at-a-glance provided by star ratings. _Route descriptions:_ In this guidebook, route descriptions aim to give you a feel for a route without giving away specific beta or spoiling your onsight. Disagree with something? Share your feedback on climbkalymnos.com’s route database (QR code above). __Gear__ To enjoy the best of Kalymnos safely, bring more gear than you think you need. In this guidebook, the length of each route is approximate, and we do not list an exact number of bolts for each route. So always tie a knot at the end of your rope, check the route length, and make sure to bring enough quickdraws. For routes on stalactites, use medium to long quickdraws. For monster pitches at Grande Grotta and Sikati Cave, you will also need 5–7 long slings for directing your rope around the tufas and stalactites. _Quickdraws:_ Generally, there is one quickdraw every two meters. If possible, bring 30 or 40 quickdraws. You can enjoy countless extra-long pitches, with the added flexibility of leaving quickdraws on a project and still having free ones to use on another route. _Locking carabiners and slings:_ For setting up top-rope anchors (and on rare occasion for re-threading closed-ring anchors). _Rope: 70m standard single rope at minimum._ This is the standard minimum length for Kalymnos (9–10.5mm diameter). However, many remarkable routes (40m–55m) have been bolted on Kalymnos more recently. Using an 80m rope (or longer) on Kalymnos is strongly recommended. __Anchors__ One of the trademarks of Kalymnos equipping is that most anchors have fixed clippable carabiners instead of closed rings. This is done for both convenience and safety. (The only fatal accident in the history of Kalymnos climbing happened while re-threading a closed-ring anchor.) As a result, though, a different problem has emerged: repeat friction caused by people’s ropes lowering and top-roping directly from the permanent gear causes an alarming groove in the stainless-steel carabiners. There’s a simple fix: Use your own gear for lowering and top-roping. Yet, despite endless requests in all previous guidebooks and at the crag, many climbers either choose to ignore us, or simply don’t understand what to do. _Use your own gear to lower and set up top-ropes_ At least one person in every climbing party should know how to use their own gear for lowering and/or rigging an anchor for top-roping. As with most best practices, it is common sense: when leading a route, clip one of your own quickdraws (or a locking carabiner) at the anchor, and lower from that. The last person in your group to climb that route is the only person who gets to lower from the fixed carabiner. Likewise, when top-roping, the anchor should be set up using your own gear. The last person in your group to top-rope that route is the only person who gets to lower from the fixed carabiner (after tethering to the anchor, clipping the rope through the fixed carabiner, and removing their own gear). If you have no idea what we are talking about, you are not ready to climb outdoors (at a foreign island destination, no less). Stop reading now, and go to the back section of this book, where you can book a local climbing guide to teach you the basics of climbing. __Cleaning the quickdraws from very steep pitches__ Cleaning your draws from very steep pitches is not easy, and pendulums swings near the ground increase the risk of injury if proper technique is not used by both climber and belayer. Once you start to lower from the anchor, use the “cable car” technique (clip a quickdraw to your harness and connect it to the belayer’s side of the rope) to stay close to the rock and remove your draws. As you get close to the ground, do not unclip the first quickdraw. Stay clipped into the belayer’s side of the rope until you reach the ground, then remove the 1st quickdraw from the ground (you may have to re-climb the first few moves). The first bolts at some crags with steep overhangs (i.e. Sikati Cave, Secret Garden, Utopia, Rock n Roll Cave, Iannis) are placed very close to the ground for this exact reason. Alternatively, before cleaning the first draw, unclip the cable car quickdraw, allow your belayer to get ready, then make sure there is no obstacle before swinging. For more tech tips, scan QR code above. __Partner check__ Do this every time you and your climbing partner prepare to start climbing a pitch. The four key areas to check are your belay system setup; proper fit and adjustment of each partner’s harness; the knot on the harness; and the knot at the end of the rope. The most common cause of climbing accidents on Kalymnos is running out of rope for failure to tie a knot at the end of it. A one-minute partner check before each climb would prevent all such accidents. __Mountain rescue__ Rescue services at this writing are the responsibility of the local Fire Department. Mountain rescue is performed by local firemen with the help of the volunteer Kalymnos rescue team. Go to the back flap of this book for instructions on what to do in case of an accident.
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