The Essential Kalymnos
Thinking of heading to Kalymnos? There is no substitute for local knowledge. Island resident and climbing guide Simon Montmory provides a brief introduction to whet your appetite!
Kalymnos’s reputation as a climbing paradise is well known throughout the climbing world and the sun, sea and exceptional rock quality attract thousands of climbers every year. It is the ideal destination for climbing holidays, only rock and the Aegean Sea as far as your eyes can see!
Climbing on Kalymnos is relatively new, a little less than 10 years old, and there are already 1700 routes, of all levels and style, with continuing development of the huge climbing potential.
A new version of Aris Theodoropoulos’s guidebook has been edited in October 2010 and some updates are already available at Climber’s Nest and Wild sport, the 2 climbing shops on the island as well as Best Moto (scooter hire). The island offers everything from multi-colour limestone, tufas (from grade 6 and up), Verdonesque slabs, and marble like walls offering routes up to 40m long. There are even great possibilities of some deep water soloing around the small fishing harbor of Vathy and on some of the more remote crags dotted along the coast. Most of the sectors on Kalymnos are accessible in less than 25 minutes from the road, on foot or even by scooter, which means the walk-ins are never too far.
Many crags on the island are ideal for beginners who are just starting outdoors and want a relaxed introduction to real rock as well as those who want to start leading (or those who already do but want to gain in confidence) on routes with bolts placed comfortably close together (no long run-outs here)! Kalymnos also has more than enough hard climbing to keep even the best climbers busy for years with numerous un-climbed projects still waiting for an ascent.
The nearby island of Telendos is only 5 minutes away by boat and resembles a volcano rising directly out of the sea. Telendos is much quieter than the main island with just a handful of people living here and you are guaranteed a warm welcome in the tiny restaurants, cafés and studios, all located along the seafront. Telendos already has about ten well-developed sectors including some excellent multi-pitch routes up to 270m (from 6a to 7a+). It is also a little oasis of wild, hidden beaches, perfect for chilling out with an Ouzo or a Mythos (local drinks) while watching the pink and orange sunset.
Accommodation / How to get here
Kalymnos is accessible from Kos, the closest island to Athens. From April, low-cost airlines fly (Ryanair and Easyjet) directly to Kos from all over Europe and a shuttle connects both islands in 20 minutes, 6 times a day. From Athens, flights are available to Kos and Kalymnos, as well as a ferry (10h crossing on Bluestar).
All services are few minutes away by foot (from Myrties, Masouri and Armeos), with plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, bike / scooter rentals, climbing shops. For accommodation, most people choose to rent one of the many studios available (bedroom with 2 beds, a small kitchen, a bathroom and a balcony). Hotels and apartments are also available by the week, at a reasonable price.
Climbers visit Kalymnos all through the year with the busiest months being April, May, September and October. March, October and November are much quieter but still give great climbing conditions. With a good range of crags facing all directions it is possible to find sun or shade here right through the year as required.
For non-climbers or rest days Kalymnos offers plenty of other activities (hiking, bike riding, kayaking, scuba diving, beaches). Sampling the traditional Greek food is essential with many restaurants and cafes serving great food (fresh fish, grilled meat, vines leaves, mousaka) all served with a warm welcome from the local people!
Personally, when I landed in Kalymnos and stepped on to the island, it was love at first sight. I have been living here for 3 years now, and there are still tons of things to do, lots of projects, new routes to climb and whole new sectors to discover.
As a holiday climbing destination it is hard to find a better location and I can highly recommend Kalymnos to climbers of all ability.
Simon Montmory is a fully qualified rock climbing guide (BEES) and currently lives on Kalymnos where he organises climbing holidays and private guiding for all abilities. Simon speaks French, English and Spanish and his knowledge of climbing on Kalymnos in second to none!
For more details about Kalymnos Climbing Guides, find Simon on: http://www.climbapedia.com/en/learn/