30 September 2010

Back on British Rock

The cows of Twistleton Dale House heading out for the day after morning milking.

It's been a week to the day since I got back from Kalymnos and since then I've been tied up with work and university. However I have managed to get down to the local wall for a couple of hours and have spent some time hanging on the fingerboard, but today was the first day back on British rock.

Seconding Left-Hand Crack (VD).

The rock of choice was limestone, the same as that found in Kalymnos, and I guess that's where the similarities with Kalymnos end; we were in the Yorkshire Dales, just outside Ingleton, at Twistleton Scar for a start.

Making moves and placing gear on Serenity (VS, 5a).

The routes were fairly short affairs, but even though there was only a limited amount of moves to experience before arriving at the top, they were still enjoyable. We ticked off a number of routes and when the climbing psyche started to fade we began on the long journey north back to Cumbria.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

23 September 2010

Another 2374 miles...

On the beach with Telendos behind.

At the end of my last post I mentioned that we only had two days left on Kalymnos and that these would be spent climbing. Well on Tuesday that didn’t happen. We woke early so that we could breakfast, before heading up to the crag in the morning shade, but I wasn’t motivated for climbing in the slightest, and this was the same on the following day, Wednesday.

Instead of climbing we spent the days pottering around Masouri; having lunch at the Glaros Bar, before heading down to the beach to while away the afternoon besides the sea. Whilst in the Glaros Bar on the first of these two days, I came across an article, in one of the bar's many climbing magazines, on sport climbing, sport climbing on Kalymnos as a matter of fact, and the misconceptions many British climbers have on this discipline of rock climbing.

One of these misconceptions is the grading of the routes; they aren’t graded for the onsight, but instead, for the redpoint attempt. Almost immediately it made sense; this was why I was getting shut down on routes graded at F6b. It wasn’t because I lacked stamina, which is the conclusion I had drawn, but because I was approached the whole climbing experience wrong and was always going for the onsight, when I should have been taking my time, finding hidden holds whilst hanging on the rope, so that when it came to the lead I had the moves wired and could conserve my strength for when it was really needed.

Masouri celebrating the end of the summer season.

However, it's a bit late for all of that now; I'm back in Carlisle, the rain is lashing against the windows, and the washer has nearly finished it's first load.

More pictures of the holiday can be seen here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

20 September 2010

A couple more days in the sun...

Making a big move on L'uomo che non credeva (F6a+).

After the failure of Friday's climbing we decided to turn Saturday's rest day into a climbing day. We headed back up to the Grande Grotta Cave, but instead of heading right, towards the Panorama Sector and the wasp nest, we headed left, back to the Afternoon Sector. Here we had the most productive day of the whole holiday; we ticked six routes ranging from F6a to F6b+, and all were climbed onsight. This meant that I ticked my hardest onsight lead of the holiday and this put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Another day coming to an end; the sun about to fall below the horizon.

The locals of Eborios fishing from the harbour, with the limestone cliffs of the Odyssey and Grande Grotta sectors behind.

We whiled away the rest of the day besides the pool, before heading out for the night on a Sunset Tour of the island. A coach picked us up and headed north, stopping once at Skalia as the sun went down and then again at Eborios, which is where the road terminates, before heading back along the road to Arginoda for a traditional Greek meal.

Trying to swap hands in a pocket on Ibria (F6b+).

The following day we were back out on the rock and the sector of choice was Poets. We ticked two routes, Metaxas (F6a) and MAO (ex Via Alp) (F6a), before trying Ibria, a super technical F6b+. I was feeling confident that I would get to the top after the previous days successes, but this was not to be; I ended up leaving a karabiner behind, three bolts from the top, so that I could lower back down to the ground and nurse my wounded pride.

Red clouds hang above the Grande Grotta Sector and Armeos as another day comes to an end.

And now we're on another rest day. There are only two more days left of the holiday, but because we don't leave the island until 7pm, we also have two days of climbing ahead of us.

More pictures of the holiday can be seen here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

17 September 2010

Kalymnian Dispatches...

We had a rest day on Wednesday so we took the bus from our hotel in Armeos to the capital of Kalymnos, Pothia, where some of the best sponge factories on the island are found. We toured around many of these and stopped off, in between factories, at the cafes and bars, which lined the harbour, for refreshments.

Trying to find the best hold in a sea of 'ok' holds on Heureka (F5c+).

Approaching the crux of Mermizeli (F6b).

The following day we were back on the rock and back at the Odyssey Sector. We quickly ticked off one of the climbs we had patiently waited for on our last visit, but never got chance to climb, before ticking another. We then packed our bags and traversed the hillside to the School Sector, where I had picked out two climbs, when back in the UK, which I wanted to tick. We dispatched these quickly and headed back to Odyssey for some more routes on the steep, pocketed limestone walls.

Making a couple of moves to the left on La vie selon Gege (F6b).

A climber chalks up on Chnosi Family (F7a).

Today, we headed up to the Panorama Sector of the Grande Grotta, which lies directly behind our hotel. The plan was to tick six routes ranging from F4c to F6c, but this was cut short after only getting three routes in the bag; on scrambling up to the base of Cyclops (F6c) I managed to disturb a well hidden wasp nest, and some of it's inhabitants took the opportunity to jab my scalp with their stingers. This was incredibly painful and put a bit of a negative spin on the day, so we packed up and retired to the hotel to nurse my wounds.

More pictures of the holiday can be seen here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

14 September 2010

Two more days of climbing...

We had a break from climbing on Sunday, but yesterday we got two sessions in and today we got one further session in before we take another rest day tomorrow. Yesterday's first session was in the morning shade, at the Poets Sector, which sits behind the Climbers Nest in Armeos, and then, once the sun had disappeared behind Telendos, we heading back up to the Afternoon Sector of the Grande Grotta for a quick climb whilst the sun dropped below the horizon.

A climber on Omero (F6c+).

Getting a rest on Styx (F6a+).

The evening sun sets behind Telendos.

Then today we headed up to the Odyssey Sector, which is the birth place of Kalymnos climbing; the first routes were put up here almost ten years ago and you could tell that this was the oldest climbing venue on the island. Many of the holds were suffering from overuse and as a result many were highly polished, which made the climbing extremely difficult at times.

The transport of choice for the visiting climber, with the Odyssey Sector behind.

Making the crux move into the niche of Poly Retsina No Good (F6a+).

However, during these two days, and the two that went before, clear patterns have emerged as to the ways of the visiting climber on Kalymnos. Every climber takes at least three pairs of footwear up to the crag. Obviously one of these is to climb in, but there are also pairs to wear at the base of the crag. These are usually flip flops or similar as they give the climber's feet chance to cool down after being stuffed into overly tight climbing shoes for twenty or so minutes, and then the third pair are usually designed for the steep, rough and dusty approaches to and from the crag. These are unceremoniously chucked into a rucksack as soon as the first route for the day is reached.

This is one thing which I have adopted. I have also become use to the act of queueing for a climb. In the UK this is very rare, even for the most popular of crags, but on Kalymnos all of the crags seem to be popular and thus queueing is an accepted part of the climbing. It does have its benefits if I am being honest; it forces you to rest properly in between climbs.

One thing which I have not adopted, but many climbers have, is the use of the moped to reach the crag. I have decided that the much safer option is to walk from the hotel to the crag, and this at worst could take an hour, but at least I don't risk life and limb in the crazy Kalymnos traffic each time I head out climbing.

More pictures of the holiday can be seen here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

11 September 2010

Two days of climbing...

Some of the locals checking us out as we slog uphill on the way to the Afternoon Sector of the Grande Grotta.

I've just finished my second day of climbing on Kalymnos and there is a stark contrast to the climbing found in the UK, which is obvious I suppose. Yesterday we headed up to the Afternoon Sector of the Grande Grotta, which lies twenty minutes walk from our hotel. We had an early start so that we were up at the crag before the sun reached the peak of its heat, but it also allowed us to climb in the shade for the majority of the session.

Trying desperately to keep my finger tips chalked on L'amico Ralph (F5c).

It's a strange concept to be looking for the crags that are in the shade for a large portion of the day; in the UK you almost always want the rock to be soaked in sun, but in Kalymnos it is hard, even when in the shade, to keep your hands free of sweat so you can crimp the small, but positive, limestone holds.

A busy Grande Grotta cave with climbers on DNA (F7a+) and Aegialis (F7c).

We ticked six routes ranging from F4a to F5c, but many of these felt much harder than the English sport routes I have lead in the past. We headed back down to the hotel and onto Masouri for dinner at the Glaros Bar, when hunger eventually set in, and afterwards we passed the time in the hotel's swimming pool, before heading out for tea in Myrties.

Admiring Kasteli's Main Wall with Telendos behind.

Today followed a similar theme: we were up early so that the walk-in to the crag could be done in the luxury of the shade and, like the previous day, we climbed whilst the rock was still in the shade, however we were at Kasteli's Main Wall instead of the Grande Grotta's Afternoon Sector.

A climber on Piccolo Diavolo (F6a).

Again we ticked six routes, but this time the sun cut our session short; the base of the crag was just starting to get warm as the first rays of sunshine hit the limestone and so we headed back to the hotel to while away the time in a very similar fashion to the previous day.

More pictures of the holiday can be seen here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

10 September 2010

2374 miles later...

Heading to Manchester's Terminal 1.

And we're in Kalymnos. The journey was straight forward to be honest, however it took a long time and this was because we had to use many different forms of transport. We used the good old British Rail network to get from Carlisle to Manchester, and then Monarch airlines provided us with the flights down to the island of Kos.

A coffee passes the time, early on Thursday morning, whilst waiting for the Kalymnos Star.

Once on Kos we waited for four hours in Mastihari so that we could catch the first ferry across to Pothia, which is the capitol of Kalymnos. This wouldn't have been to bad if we were in Mastihari at a decent hour, but at an hour past midnight only one Tavern was still serving food and drink, which passed some of the time.

Our first view of Kalymnos from Mastihari, Kos.

Heading for the Kalymnos Star, as the sun starts to illuminate Mastihari Harbour, Kos.

Once on Kalymnos we were soon transferred across the island, by coach, to the Hotel Philoxenia, which sits 20 minutes walk away from many of the popular climbing sectors of the Grande Grotta. Even though it was still early in the day, we had little in the way of energy, so instead of heading straight for the crags we potted around Masouri, Armeos and Kasteli for the day, before retiring to the pool in preparation for the following days climbing.

The limestone of the Grande Grotta makes for an interesting back drop whilst swimming in the hotel pool.

And if your wondering how I knew the exact distance from Carlisle to Kalymnos I asked Google Maps who not only gave me the distance, but also a detailed route plan for driving the entire 2374 miles, and an option for a route if I wanted to walk the entire way. It would have only taken me 14 days and 19 hours!

More pictures of the holiday can be seen here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

07 September 2010


Full time work has finished for another year, lectures begin in just under three weeks time and I'm getting my stuff together for two weeks of bolt clipping, in the sun, on the Greek island of Kalymnos.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...