My boyfriend and I have been going on climbing vacations for three years now. We started very simple with a tentative trip to Mayerhofen, Zillertal, where we did many via ferratas and in between some climbing excursions. Then we got a bit bolder, taking outdoor lessons with our trainers from the German Alpine Club (Deutscher Alpenverein/ DAV), both close to home (Morgenbachtal, some trips to Belgium). Last year we even did a two week trip first to lake Garda, Italy, and then to the Dolomites. This year in June we finally got to on an alpine climbing excursion with the DAV Duisburg to Lechtal where we spent 10 days at the Steinseehütte and where we “manifested” our knowledge in rope commands and being safe in multipitches. Somewhat unfortunately, but now in retrospect I find it marvelous, we did not get to go on a longer summer vacation due to work related reasons on both our sides. So we had a look around on where to go, read some of the climbing magazines (of course just for research reasons, never just to be amazed by these great climbing athletes, duh ^^), did some internet research and then we got narrowed our decision down to Kalymnos. When you read about it, it is labeled as a climber’s paradise. And let me tell you – after our first few days here – we think it is one. So here are a few things we would like to share with you:
- Getting to Kalymnos
We landed in Kos, which is the island next to Kalymnos and rented a car directly from the airport. Then we took the ferry from Mastichari, which took about 45-60 minutes. It is very enjoyable when you sit on the top deck and see the island approach and getting bigger and clearer by the minute. From there it is very easy to find the road to Mirties. What we found out after we got here: most of the people take the bus or a taxi from the airport to the ferry station. At the port on Kalymnos they usually take a taxi or a local bus to get to their vacation destination and then they rent a motor scooter locally. But be aware of the Climbing Festival – the scooters are booked out easily. It might make sense to get in touch with the rentals via E-Mail beforehand. The scooters are practical as you can park almost anywhere. But we found that since there are so many scooters around, we just feel a bit safer sitting in the car. Plus when you get downhill really exhausted, the last thing you want to do is handle a scooter or just avoid the little kid running into the street. I’m not saying I would want to hit anyone sitting in the car instead of on the scooter, I just think the handling is much better and you usually know how to drive a car. A scooter, for me, well, not so much. There are many crags just around Masouri which are in walking distance. So you might not need a vehicle after all.
- The climbing guide
You can buy a topo in any of the small supermarkets and climbing equipment stores. They cost around 39 Euros. The latest version was published in 2010 but you can get a printed update handout for just 5 Euros (donation to the bolting fund) at Glaros Snack Bar. We also purchased a map for ~4 Euros which shows all the crags. We found that useful, but not really necessary. There is also a new mobile app on which you can get all the guides to your smartphone. Just a tip from me personally: put a sticker on your topo to mark it as your own book. If you let it lying around your rucksack, someone might mistake it as their own one. Everyone has the same book and they all have the same cover!!
- Getting a drink
We strongly recommend you make a stop at Nadirs Rockbar. He is the nicest bar owner ever and if you have any questions on where to go, he sure has an answer for you. Also, the burger was definitely goooooood! It is located between Mirties and Masouri.
- Climbing Festival
We arrived on the second last day of the North Face Climbing Festival. When we found out we would be here while so many talented climbers are here, too, we were absolutely psyched! So we made sure not to miss the Saturday climber’s party down at Masouri beach. They even flew in a DJ from Ibiza – wow (if you like the music-deep house techhouse or whatever they call it)! Besides the fact that the place was packed with people clad in E9, Black Diamond, Chillaz and other cool climbing fashion and gear, this had one huge implication for us. It was a lot harder to get accommodation than I had imagined. So make sure to book quite a lot of time in advance.
- From the useful stuff onto some climbing insights!
On our first day of climbing we went a bit farther out of Masouri and parked the car just below the sector Sea Breeze. All the sectors are marked at the street with a very distinct white stone giving you the names of the sectors which you can access from there. Sea Breeze is in 5 minute walking distance from the road. All day long there is a refreshing wind, hence the name, and you might want to bring a jacket despite the beautiful sunshine. The sector has everything you want to get started and get a feeling for the stone and the bolting. There are a few 4’s and many 5a-c’s in there, a few 6’s and a 7. As mentioned before there are new routes bolted everywhere and you will find the update from Glaros Snack Bar quite useful here. Personally, I liked the rock here. It is not that sharp and did not hurt my hands so badly (yes, they are soft and girly and that’s what I like about them, but it is not handy when climbing apparently).The second day: we hiked up to Kreissaal. Two recommendations: don’t forget your sun cream, bring some sun protection in terms of helmets or whatsoever and choose a cloudy day. It is exposed to the sun all day long and some of the routes are not so windy and you will heat up very quickly. You can get a very nice view on to Telendos and the beaches. After a hot climb, the beaches and the blue water will beacon you to go down there and take a swim! The rock up in Kreissaal is a bit more sharp than the one we had experienced in sector Sea Breeze. That plus the heat, we decided to head down to the beach and have a decent lunch right at the seaside. It was lovely and if you go, make sure to order fresh fish and Kalymnian cheese at Captain Kostas, Emporios!On to the third day (today). My boyfriend had decided for a brandnew multipitch route which has just been setup in 2013 and included a few pitches that even I could do. It is called “Three Stripes” since it was sponsored by adidas. You can find the description and pictures to the route here. I loved it up there! You are in the shadow until late in the afternoon for the whole climb and you have that beautiful view on Telendos with the boats cruising around and all the climbers strolling up the hill like ants to get to the crags where they can shout and yell all day long in frustration while climbing (no sarcasm intended…oh well, just a bit). So here are a few things for you: go up there as early as possible. There will be a few groups taking the same climb and if you don’t want to wait for them to proceed before you or if you are a rather slow team (like us), you will enjoy the climb if you don’t have a bunch of eager climbers sitting in your neck. Second, when you get to the top, do follow the three blue dots and not the stonemen! It took us a 40 minute detour to return to the last point where we had seen the blue dots. There’s not much to see up there besides stones and red dirt, so you will not miss much if you follow the signs. In the description online it says it takes about 20 minutes to walk down, but calculate a bit more time if you are proceeding more cautiously. The 20 minutes are calculated until you find the route to the closest sector (you will hear people screaming and yelling in frustration, so it’s not hard to miss). Also bring good shoes. It is a bit of a climb downhill and having good shoes in which you feel secure will help you to get back to your vehicle safely. If you are in good shape and brought some refreshments for you for the afternoon you might consider staying in the crags and do some more climbing. Me personally, I was glad when we arrived back at the car and were able to spend some time relaxing at the beach afterwards.
That’s the first few days and I cannot wait to tell you more!