Rock climbing in Kalymnos, Greece

Dangerous loose rock at sectors View of Chapel St Photis & Elephant Slide


An accident at View of Chapel St Photis last week (involving a very large loose block) once again emphasizes the vital importance of proper route equipping. To a degree, all climbers know that rock can fall without warning. But at these two crags, especially, climbers report that dangerous big blocks near bolted routes are ready to come loose. Carl Dawson, who is familiar with last week’s accident, says: “There have been several reports of unstable rock at two new sectors at which bolted routes have been recently added.


View Of Chapel St Photis (to the left of St Photis church) and Elephant Slide (to the left of the approach path to Prophitis Andreas) have both received attention from equippers but it would seem that, on some routes, dangerously loose rock is still in place on the cliff face. Regrettably, on one of these routes a large block came detached as a climber reached the last clip and this resulted in a broken knee and crush injuries plus a call-out for the Kalymnos Mountain Rescue team. Fortunately the route took a traversing line, otherwise the block which weighed around 80 kilos would easily have killed the belayer.”


A piece of the loose block that caused the injuries is pictured below.

Part of the 80-kg block that came loose at View of Chapel St Photis last week. Photo courtesy of the Kalymnos Rescue Team.



The routes at both of these Kalymnos crags, View of Chapel St Photis and Elephant Slide, were equipped last year. This near-miss is a crucial reminder to all equippers on Kalymnos to avoid ‘drill-and-go’ equipping.


Equippers, be known for the quality, not quantity, of your routes. One of the best equippers we know always says “it takes one day to bolt a route and two days to clean it afterwards.” In our opinion, this is an important rule of thumb to follow.





More loose blocks at View of Chapel St Photis are in dangerous proximity to bolted routes. Photo courtesy of the Kalymnos Rescue Team.


Climbers, please DO NOT CLIMB at View of Chapel Saint Photis or Elephant Slide until these crags are cleaned of the loose blocks. There are plenty more crags to choose from.



To the injured climber, we send out our sincere wishes for a speedy and full recovery.













This entry was posted on Sunday, August 24th, 2014 at 12:53 and is filed under Kalymnos news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

7 Responses to “Dangerous loose rock at sectors View of Chapel St Photis & Elephant Slide”

  1. Bruno says:

    error … the event was exactly at autumn 2013 and not in 2014 !

  2. Bruno says:

    it should be noted that hazardous areas on kalymnos, due to poor rock are the result of the 2014 bolting event, a media event where the quantity was obviously more important than the quality … some loose rocks in one route … perhaps, but everywhere in the sectors of this event, it is not coincidence, it’s poor work, without cleaning !
    And of course, now, it raises the question of the regulation of equipment and equipeers on the island! the freedom has limits, if security is involved

  3. Mrs S J storey says:

    Hi Michalis

    I AM ONCE AGAIN GOING TO GO FOR IT… for better or worse. Your lovely post made me cry again as my daughter or my dear friend Sue – the belayer – should have been THAT UNNECCESARY FATALITY. There is surely and truly a difference between accidents – holds do snap, sometimes we are not as good as we would like to be – and INCIDENTS. I can still hear the avalanche of rock that fell with her, hear her screams – and simply wish it had been me not her. NO THIS IS NOT THE SENSATIONALISED PRESS. Nowhere once was she off route, she was climbing way below her technical abilities…

    As stated earlier we have climbed and lived on Kalymnos for at least 16 occasions so far- and I agree fully – it is both the best place in the world and has the best climbing in the world. Nonetheless – there HAS to be quality control. People who really should know better bolt landslides like ‘St George’s’ – and Snow White. Then there are some crags where some of the routes are properly cleaned but others …like Palyinossus at the right hand end just moves and wobble- and as lovers of Kalymnos – we expect the same immaculate quality – And then there are crags like Elephant slide and View of St Photis…

    So why does the island advertise a month – complete with tee shirts where anyone can bolt whatever they want? Please answer this. SOMEBODY????- Whilst there last October – you could even buy a tee shirt celebrating this???

    I know that as soon as you ask one , two or three people to determine whether routes are safe or not, cleaned well enough and properly bolted – the insurance and litigation begins- no climbing is never fully safe – holds snap, human error kicks in. But where is the point of compromise between the TOTALLY unsafe and UNFIT for purpose and the go on challenge yourself – accept the risks ( holds do snap and we can all fall off) – but that is the PLEASURE AND THE CHALLENGE SURELY.

    What happened to my daughter was neither pleasure nor challenge. Climbing is important to Kalymnos – financially we all know. Could there not be a system whereby all new routes have to be asked to be bolted, checked by a team ( the Mountain rescue) as at least FIT TO CLIMB – and given the economic value of this to the island could this not be recognised financially???

    Sorry Michalis, I did not mean that you were any lesser than Claude – every single one of your team was and remains PRICELESS in my very real experience.

    Katy is going to be ok – one day – she wants to climb again – one day. Currently and with huge smash injuries – she just can’t walk yet! ISLAND PLEASE LISTEN

  4. Michalis Gerakios says:

    Hello everyone.

    I’m one of the rescue team members and one of those who carried the lovely girl all the way back. I just came accross this post so I feel the need to say some things.
    However, here, I represent myself only and my own view of the incident, it’s not the official team’s view (which of course is not Claude’s team but everyone is an equal member. Claude was the first and more experienced rescuer in Kalymnos before our official formation, and our present vice-President).

    First I would like to thank Mrs Storey for her words. Thank you, honestly.
    Everyone should know that whatever I do, I do it because I believe in it. I am a volunteer, I don’t get paid or gain something apart from my ethical satisfaction. I live in Kalymnos and I’m only forced by my love for climbing, my island, all this magic that I was blessed to have around me. This is the case for almost all people in the rescue team and we want to share this with every each one of you who also love and visit Kalymnos.
    So, just because NO ONE is perfect and we all make mistakes, I would like to address to the equippers:
    Please respect your fellow climbers, respect us, respect Kalymnos. You want to do something good (open new routes) and you end to do something that harms other people. As Aris says above, be known for the QUALITY and NOT QUANTITY of your routes.
    That day, I chose to leave my work and had a sunstroke (it was 41 degrees), in order to save someone. As almost everyone that came there for the rescue. In order for all our fellow visitors to know that they can rely on us and keep on feeling safe and keep on coming to Kalymnos.
    Because someone else, was just doing his fun setting up new routes. Irresponsibly. Without cleaning the crag after. Drilled and probably left. How would this guy feel if the accident was fatal? Many of you may have also heared the incident with the custom-made bolts that we found & replaced in Arginonda. I’m not as experienced climber as many of you, but I think that it’s time for everyone to face his responsibilities. I will try to stay only on positive things.

    Kalymnos is not a growing destination any more. It’s almost world’s no 1 destination for sport climbing, because of every each one of you. I really feel grateful for all those who in the past put a small stone in helping my island grow, but I believe it’s time to open a BIG conversation about how to preserve the place and not greedily ruin it.
    With almost 2.700 routes and 70 crags, I believe that someone needs a life time to climb the whole island. So please, please, please. Uncontrolled opening has to, and will stop. If you have ANY proposals or ideas about how to control this thing for the favor of all of us, do not hesitate to say your opinion either here or in the team’s facebook page (Kalymnos Rescue Service).As individuals and also as a rescue team, we have developed some ideas that will be discussed with the new mayorship of the island.
    Furthermore, there is a big rebolting project running, co-funded by the EU, that will eventually and hopefully take place this winter with a budget of almost 300.000 euros. But it’s not enough.
    All ideas are needed and not to be spared. Mistakes are human, we just have to learn and not repeat them.

    Ps. To the equippers of View of chapel Saint Fotis: What I said for you is not personal, for the simple reason that I don’t know you personally (not who you are). It is clearly a matter of common safety and sustainability and would have said it for anyone.

    Everything best to all of you!

    Michalis Gerakios
    MPhil in Environment &
    Sustainable Development

  5. David Matthews says:

    Hi there, wish I’d read this post before going to Kalymnos last week. We climbed at Elephant Slide, thankfully without incident. I was put off by the loose rock on some of the routes.
    Perhaps you could mention this as a warning in your new routes list? It was the information in the new routes list we based our decision to visit on, unaware of the above.

  6. Mrs S J storey says:

    Dear All in Kalymnos
    On 13.8.14 my 15 year old daughter had a gruesome incident at View of St Photis, a relatively new crag on the island. This accident was horrible, and with much help, we are now thankfully finally back home. Nonetheless, she will recover and climb again – ideally in October when we are back for our 16th visit. Likewise, hopefully the climbing community on the island will continue to join forces to prevent any such recurrences.
    That is not why I write. Above everything else in the entire cosmos – I want to SHOUT and PUBLISH the LOUDEST THANK YOU to SO many people!!
    We honestly couldn’t have done this without any one individual or all of you.
    So here goes:
    1. Claude Idioux and his team of Mountain Rescuers – for their love, dedication and care. We couldn’t have done it without you guys. Not for one second.. you are simply brilliant!!
    2. To Alexi the taxi driver and owner of Smugglers Restaurant – for his spinal body boarding skills, his fundamental love and his willingness to help us out with support and language differences. Smugglers is ace – go there!!
    3. To the ferry crew who responded to Alexi – and tenderly carried my daughter on and off the boat when we needed them to – love you captain and your crew.
    4. To the climber who works for Aris – who gave her face wipes and made our air-conditioning work in the hospital.
    5. To Colin Dawson for his warm words.
    6. To Dr Pattelis and moreover his Junior who helped every inch of the way –especially when the lovely gentle English speaking off duty Dr met our stretcher.
    7. To Ambiance – for the crutches – we will bring them back in October we promise.
    8. To the Pharmacist who explained and wrote labels in English cos we are too stupid to speak Greek
    9. And above ALL – TO STEVE AND SUE FROM GLAROS – who not only make the best milkshakes, vegetarian and none vegetarian food in the WORLD , if EVER you need to know ANYTHING about climbing or speaking Greek , or incidents and accidents or just eat GO THERE – they really did save us- again and again … and if without crisis, the food and drink is lovely.

    THANK YOU KALYMNOS for making the unbearable somehow ok!!!

    Be warned we are back in October!

    Every best wish

    The Storey family.

  7. Bruno says:

    “it takes one day to bolt a route and two days to clean it afterwards.” … i agree! cleaning the route is the more important job for equipoers … not bolting or climbing at the end the route

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