I've been on a good number of climbing trips at this point in my life and have to put this one near, if not at, the top of the list. The winning combination of gorgeous scenery, immaculate limestone climbing on tufas and stalactites, travel by scooter, gorgeous and cheap accommodations, delicious food, refreshing Aegean for swimming, and a great cast of characters will be hard to top.
Getting to Kalymnos was a bit arduous. Jake and I arrived at Seatac to find our first flight delayed and missing our connection. Our re-booking turned into an odyssey, with stops all over the place: SEA-PHL-FRA-ZRH-KGS to be exact. We made the most of it, having a phenomenally european lunch in the Zurich airport. Thankfully, we arrived in Kos on Sunday afternoon and our luggage made it. We hopped on the ~7pm ferry to Kalymnos on which I fought nausea until we safely docked and disembarked. It wasn't over then. The owner of our studio apartments picked us up and zoomed through narrow two-way roads for the next 15 minutes until we finally arrived at our spot. In the darkness, the place looked nice, but it was hard to tell where we were and what the island looked like.
Living The Dream
Waking up on Day 1 was awesome. Our studio had an incredible view out to the Northwest, looking over the Aegean and toward Talindos, the neighboring island. We jumped on our scooters and headed for a closer crag to make it easy for Blaine, our 6th and final arrival, to join us. Our first few climbs were fun, but nothing terribly special. It wasn't until we headed further North and climbed at Iannis that we started to experience the glory that is Kalymnos--steep, athletic climbing on huge features.
The next 12 days flew by. We climbed all over the island, and got on numerous classics. Our typical schedule was: wake up; drink coffee and eat yogurt, muesli, fruit, honey, and nutella; jump on the scooters; hit the grocery store for lunch food (fresh bread, cured meats, fresh cheese, juice, fruit); scoot to a crag and climb ourselves silly until the sun swung around in the early afternoon; head down and have some beers, ice cream, and maybe a gyro; max out on the beach; head home for a shower; head out for an incredible dinner with tons of classic Greek appetizers and main courses; pass out happy.
On our two rest days, we slept in and tried to recover our aching muscles and hands. We lounged on the perfect beaches, ate even more food, rode our scooters around the entire island in a loop, explored the port town, and drank some great Ouzo and Wine.
My favorite climbing was at Iannis, The Grande Grotta, Sikati Cave, Arhi, Odyssey, Spartacus, and Jurassic Park. That's basically to say that the climbing was world-class everywhere we turned. To hit 4 stars in Kalymnos, the climb had to be amazing in terms of movement, length, position, and view. Just like Thailand, my definition of 4 stars got even more strict with this trip.
We spent an evening in Athens on the way home and were able to quickly take in some of the sights and amble our way around the historic city center. Bonus.
I could go on and on about how much fun we had. The bottom line is that I'll be back and hope to bring as awesome a group as we had on this trip for that next one.