Rock climbing in Kalymnos, Greece

Five New Routes by Neil Gresham


Neil Gresham cruising Chameleon 8a, Spartacus


Neil Gresham, the well-known Black Diamond athlete, opened five new sport routes (7b+ to 8b) during his November 2009 visit to Kalymnos. Neil had a lot to say about the island, in a thoroughly enjoyable report published on the Black Diamond website. We have included some excerpts below, and you can read the full report here.


“Kalymnos is a place that can satisfy any sport climber’s wildest fantasies. The cliffs can only be described as perfect, with giant orange, tufa-covered caves right next to grey, sweeping pocketed faces in unlimited supply. There is also a unique holiday vibe about this place—no need for a car, you can simply stroll up to the crag, then back down to the beach, or jump in the pool at your hotel, relax with a beer and then wander in to town for a Greek slap-up in one of the many quiet tavernas on the seafront. If you can find somewhere better than Kalymnos, please let me know!”


But as Murphy’s Law would have it, just as Neil decided that Kalymnos had reached its potential for new lines… they ‘popped up’ everywhere and make a mockery of his decision:


“…I decided to leave the drill at home for my November visit, and then of course, the inevitable happened. Suddenly the lines just kept popping up in front of my eyes out of nowhere, and I was forced to borrow a drill and set to work in a frenzy! The first were two extensions at Spartacus sector, a 7b+ above the popular 6c, Les Amazones, which I named Ares, and then a wild 8a above Monbatcha which I called Chameleon. The name reflected the way the rock changes colour and the fact that we had stood below it for ten years without noticing it. Next up, just around the corner from here I added The Shield (7b+), a technical, fingery vertical wall-climb, which provided a pleasant contrast to the usual Kalymnian jug-pulling. After this, I spotted another blatant gap on the left side of the central cave at Jurassic Park. Raptor (8a), blasts through some sublime steep juggy tufa-territory, and I guess it is a sign of the times that this route had two onsight repeats from eager French climbers within hours of me making the first ascent. The nicest part of all was to see them grinning with pleasure whilst lowering off and this for me sums up what new-routing is all about.


My final offering in Kalymnos was a line at Iliada that I had been contemplating for some time. There is a big cave in the middle of the crag with one obvious line up the centre. I was a little saddened to see that this had been climbed to an arbitrary point, halfway across the roof and claimed as a 7b+ called Dollonas. Not that I have an issue with routes having “halfway lower-offs” and being available to lower-grade climbers, (and indeed I’ve put up routes like this myself before) but in this case, it seemed to spoil the line, rather like putting a lower-off halfway up a hard classic like La Rose et le Vampire or Punks in the Gym. The reason I had avoided taking a look at the extension on previous trips was because it looked so hard, but this year I just couldn’t resist. I was pleasantly surprised to find Valley of the Dolls weighing in at a “bouldery 8b”, a grade which so many people seem to climb these days. It just goes to show that your eyes and your instincts can deceive you in climbing and it often pays to keep an open mind.


So what next in Kalymnos? Far from running dry, I feel like I’m only just getting started out there. In fact I’m just rushing off to catch a plane straight back there to attend to some unfinished business, but unfortunately, I seem to have run out of time to tell you about that one! If you’re heading out there yourself and you get there before me, then please stay clear of that perfect overhanging line that isn’t in the guidebook. You’ll know the one I’m talking about when you see it!”


Click here to read Neil Gresham’s full-length report of his November visit to Kalymnos, and
here to watch his coaching video.

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2010 at 21:16 and is filed under Kalymnos news, New Sectors. 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.

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