Third and Fourth week of September 2010 Second and third week of September 2011
If you're looking for a way to mix your sport climbing with some sun and sea then Kalymnos should be high on your list. The climbing season is commonly September to November and then again in March to May. According to the guide you can climb all year around but have to be very sun aware.
Climbing on Kalymnos is centered on the town of Masouri, with the crags accessed right from town or up to 15 minutes by scooter (30-45+ minutes walking). There's a range of crags to visit so you can find climbing from slabs through to steep overhanging caves. There's enough routes to satisfy everyone whether you're starting out on 5's or on 8's.
If you're a beginner, as I am, then it's perfect. Much more climbing in 4's, 5's than anywhere else, and if you can get into the 6's then there's enough for a life-time. Also, since the crags are close to the sea it's easy to climb a bit and then rest on a lounger!
+ Range of routes for all grades More low-grade routes than anywhere else I could find.
+ Different sectors to show different climbing Everything from slabs, through to steep overhanging caves: not that I did any of those.
+ Interesting town Enough bars and restaurants to keep busy in the evenings and on rest days.
- Travel is fairly involved You have to fly to Athens and then get a local connecting flight, making it 24 hours in total!
- No real night life Not that important to me, but this is not Ibetha!
- Area is shutting down as the holiday season is over
Kalymnos is a small rocky island not that far from Cos. So to travel there from the UK you need to fly into an intervening island and then transfer from there.
Allegedly the cheapest way to do this is to fly into Cos and get the ferry across. We chose to fly into Athens so we could do some city tourism and then got a short flight directly to Kalymnos. Alternatively, you could take a room at the ??? at the airport, and then fly the next day.
The internal flight was on a small twin propeller plane so the one issue we had was that the weight allowance is only 20kg. Though you can carry quite a lot as hand-luggage! Either way watch your weight.
When you land at the small airport come out and there will be taxis to take you to your hotel in Masuri. It's about 15 minutes and will cost something like 20 Euros.
This is the main tourist village that climbers stay in. It runs along a bay next to sea with the island of Talendos immediately opposite. The bay is a kilometer or so wide, so the sea is generally calm and great for swimming. The village itself is pretty long (15 minute walk) and strung out along the rode. Technically there's a one way system along the single road, but most people ignore it or don't know it exists. There's a sandy beach for swimming, and a range of bars and resteraunts to eat in during the evening.
Most of the crags are along this side of the island. There's a range of areas that are accessed from the rode so you'll really need to use a moped and park-up on the road. The closest access point is probably 10 minutes by moped (15 minute walk) and the furthest could be 30 minutes by moped. If you don't have a moped it's going to be a real pain, but some people do it - there's plenty of areas within a 45 minute walk. From the road-side the amount of time to get to the crag varies, but for most it will be a 15 minute walk-in.
This is the main town on the island, you'll probably go somewhere close in order to refuel the moped. If you have a rest day and want to take an excursion to another island then the main port is based here.
You need at least a 70m rope as a lot of the routes are very long. I've found this out to my cost having brought a 50 m rope the first time!
You need about 18 quickdraws: get about two long ones to avoid rope drag.
Most of the areas are 10 minute walks from the road. So you just need shorts and approach shoes or trainers in almost all circumstances - I wore sandles for a bunch of days and was fine.
The majority of the crags are dotted along the road that runs next to sea, so to access them you just moped along the road, park-up and then walk into the crag. Most of the walk-ins are up reasonable paths, and tend to be something like 15-20 minutes.
The majority of the crags are westish facing so they don't get any sun until after mid-day and there are a small number of places that are in shade during the afternoon. As a beginner the number of places in shade during the afternoon are more limited and anyway it is hot! So in general you want to be up as early as you can manage, climbing by 8:30-9:00 and then swimming and chilling by 2pm!
As it says in the title this is a good area to get some practise in leading 4's and 5's. It's a grey slab which is at a nice angle and well-bolted. If you're there long-enough you'll probably see some people climbing the multi-pitch that's on the left and then absailing down on the right of school. Downsides are that the walk is unusually long for Kalymnos (45 mins?) so after two sessions here you've probably had enough. It also gets the sun _very_ early, so you want to be climbing here by 8:30-9:00 am and finished by 12:00 unless you want to fry! For the afternoon climb at Arhi(?) which will have shade until 4.
Famous (particularly amongst the Brits) as a climbers hang-out, you'll find it at the start of the town on the right. Run by Steve and Sue who made the break from the UK - a man of few words, but great hospitality. If you want sandwiches for climbing this is a great place to get them. Or a beer and wifi!
Traditional restaurant, close to the Leather shop in the 'square' and on the first floor. It's on the first floor of a building which has an alcohol shop on the ground floor. They do great lamb on a barbecue.
As you walk up to the top of town it's on the right just before a sweeping bend - you won't miss it. This is a cheap and enjoyable refuelling station. If you're craving a salad and some pasta then this is the place to come - but the portions are massive so just share a starter!
This cafe is at the top of town on the left just before the one way system starts. You won't miss it due to the climbing shoes wrapped around the awning poles and the large number of tanned climbers lolling around. If you want to soak up the ambience of climbing and listen in on other peoples adventures then this is the place to chill out!
Opposite the italian restaurant. This is a lovely cafe and bar that has cable tv, a fantastic sound set-up and foosball or pool. Sitting on the balcony while the sun goes down gives one of the best views of Telendos.
Top of the village just past where the one way system joins on the right hand side of the road. This is the only restaurant which has a cuisine aware on Kalymnos according to their menu, and the food certainly supports it. A fantastic and friendly atmosphere with great views. The menu is a variety of the Greek specialities and they also have a varied wine menu. If you've had an active day then try to stretch to Baclava
Just going out of town and next to Climbers Nest is this Bakery and Cafe. If you need a morning pick-me up coffee or some sandwiches for your climbing day then this is the place to get them. Each day they bake new savouries which are great climbing fuel! In the evenings they've open until 11 pm so a post dinner coffee and perhaps some Baclava is a great option.
Best one is just down from Kokkinidis, on the right if you're walking up town. Called Antonis and Nikki - the chocolate coissants are really good, they also have dried fruit/nuts which is good trail food and the full assortment of fruit, veg, snacks and alcohol.
This treat is not to be missed when your fingers and brain feel completely frazzled from too much climbing and heat. At the top of town beyond the one way system but before Climbers Nest you'll find a alley that turns up on the right (if you're walking out of town). Just up on the right is an ice cream parlour with some amazing home-made flavours. A bit hard to find, but you'll be really glad you made the effort - as you sit on the balcony getting an amazing suger rush!