Rock climbing in Kalymnos, Greece

Lambda, a new sector on Telendos


By Urs Odermatt
“There are two lights on the Telendos summit.” It’s almost midnight now, and there shouldn’t be any lights on the summit at this time of night. At 76 Sheila is perhaps not the youngest among us, but she’s not going senile yet. She’s right: six flashes a minute, then a pause. Then six more flashes. I dig deep into my past experience as a mountain guide. Something rings a bell, an alpine SOS signal? No way, this is not Chamonix. Instead I’m sitting with Steve in the Glaros Bar counting bolts, and the Telendos summit is only 250m above sea level, easily reached in two hours on a mountain track. But the fact remains: the lights continue to flash.

Maybe someone is injured? There is no mountain rescue in Telendos or Kalymnos, so we call Iannis from the Rita Restaurant. He heads off shortly after midnight and only an hour later finds two Israeli mountaineers just below the summit – they’re alright but frightened to death at the prospect of having to spend the night outdoors. After a cup of tea by a warming fire, they descend the next morning at first light. The Israelis get some sleep, while Iannis returns to the restaurant, where we’re awaiting our breakfast with fresh fruit, yoghurt and feta cheese.


They say they were climbing Wings for Life, had been caught by nightfall and lost their way during the descent. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this story. Just two years ago two climbers from Athens had to spend the night in the little chapel on the descent route. That chapel is literally a godsend. Maybe it’s true, though, that with all the protected sections, we entice people onto routes where they get completely out of their depth? Or maybe that’s the reason why we actually need all the protection up there.


In the meantime the summit book is full. Over 600 ascents in less than five years – no one would ever have imagined that. I’m especially happy to read the many kind comments in the summit book and the nice messages from repeat climbers thanking me for the route. But first-time climbers have feelings too, and the accusation in a German forum that I had drilled bolts into difficult terrain to satisfy my sponsors gets me thinking.


As we’re talking about sponsors: Do you have any idea how much a bolt made of A2 stainless steel costs? If I had to pay for them myself, I would just focus on a few difficult routes at my own level of difficulty. But in Kalymnos there will soon be 2,000 routes at all levels of difficulty, and they are necessary to cope with the hordes of climbers who come to the island from March to November.


One of them is Simi. Simi isn’t really a climber at all, but as a true-blooded Zermatt man, he loves the mountains. He at least knows the Matterhorn and a few nearby 4000ers fairly well. But instead of learning a proper trade and becoming a mountain guide, he left the heart of Switzerland and moved to the ‘province’ of Zurich, where he now earns a fortune with other people’s money. But his home and his family-run hotel remain in Zermatt.



Why am I telling you this? Because I met Simi in Kalymnos. We climbed a few routes together and Simi was fascinated by the incredible atmosphere there. “Something special is being created here, climbing routes are being hewn out of stone and hard work, bringing enjoyment to lots of people and a source of income for the local people,” he says, spontaneously deciding to sponsor a new sector to be named after his sister’s hotel.


May 2012
I feel as though I’m in an Allied landing craft. It smells of sweat and adrenalin. The ship is overloaded and people from various nations are waiting apprehensively. The objectives are distributed as we approach. The British will launch a surprise attack on the stronghold of Helvet-X, while the Italians storm Glaros and the French lay siege to Amores Perros until they run out of steam. Fortunately, however, the sectors here are not Omaha and Sword, but Irox, Eros and Pescatore. The thudding detonations are not bombs hitting the water but Greek fisherman at work.


Change of topic: I’m shocked at how many people are queuing up for places in Magma, a true classic. And even in Pescatore, which used to be a well-kept secret, there are crowds of people. If I previously had doubts about whether 25 minutes for the approach to the future Lambda sector was too long, now I’m glad at every metre that is placed between me and the masses. Close behind me are Sheila and Iannis, who, despite having had a sleepless night, has taken the opportunity to come with us. It wasn’t until this spring that he caught the climbing bug. Markus is bringing up the gear, carrying the drill, bolts, rope and water supplies, not only because he’s the strongest of all of us, but also because Simi has sentenced him – his business partner – to forced labour. Well, there are worse things. While the British test the first routes, we keep on drilling as long as the batteries last. A week solid – our muscles burning, our hands sore, our eyes clogged with dust from the drill. Day in, day out. And with every hour the certainty grows that we are creating something special here.


In the Irox sector the rock is often razor-sharp, in Pescatore the spectacular sinter formations are often only very short, and in Glaros the overhangs are almost absurd. In the Lambda sector the routes are long. Don’t even think of coming here without an 80m rope. There are a lot of 40m-long routes, some even 50m long, but they are not so steep, often vertical with only slight overhangs. And the rock has surprisingly good hold, with large holes interspersed with a small sinter formation, but all the holds are positive. And that’s why none of the most difficult tours are to be found here. But if you want to have fun in the 6a-6c range, this is a little paradise. Sheila climbs one route after the other, lead climbing up to 6a, top-roping the more difficult ones, correcting values and telling us about her life in Wales, while Iannis is utterly enchanted by this new world that is essentially not so alien to him.

Dirty and exhausted, but with a broad smile on his face , Iannis sits in the restaurant, forging his first tall tales of mountaineering like the ones he knows from hunting, feeling the thrill of spending a week with friends, far away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And Iannis truly understands climbers. Perhaps that is the spirit of Kalymnos: to be welcomed and understood as a climber, to feel the support, motivation and joy of the locals. Only around three o’clock, when the sun is already shining onto the rock face, do we take a rest. Iannis tells us of life on the island fifty years ago, of the grain silos whose stone foundations can be seen all around, of his school days and of his life. He only leaves when his wife calls, telling him that work awaits him in the restaurant. He prepares the fresh swordfish that we eat practically every evening. Ask him if the fish is frozen and you will be dragged into the kitchen to see them cutting up the freshly caught fish and grilling it.


During all this a breeze begins to blow and the sun is already low in the sky, bathing the rock face in a warm evening light – the right time to set off again to tackle the route Lambda Capital 7b. Fifty metres through the entire face, and if our stamina lets us down, then we’ll just come back in autumn or next year, or some other time. Who cares, there are no sponsors to satisfy. Of course no one believes that there will be more guests in the Simi Hotel in Zermatt because of this sponsorship deal. But a Swiss banker sponsoring a climbing sector just like that is almost as fairytale-like as the climbing here itself.


Urs Odermatt 8.5.2012



LAMBDA, a new climbing sector on Telendos

Info courtesy of Urs Odermatt and Markus Leippold


Click to enlarge













This new sector offers more then 30 splendid routes in a fantastic setting over the sea. The density of first class climbs is even for Kalymnos exceptional and some routes are probably within the best of its grade in the whole island. The climbing is very long on vertical and slightly overhanging rock. Even if there are sharp bits, the climbing is mainly on good, but well-spaced pockets.


All routes were bolted by Markus Leippold and Urs Odermatt in May 2012.


Approach: from IROX to Pescatore and further along the marked path to the obvious cliff. 25min from IROX.
Equipment: bring an 80m rope and 18-24 quickdraws. Many routes are exactly 40m.


Conditions: the cliff is in the shadow until 14.00 and there is usually a cold breeze.
Sponsors: main sponsor for this new sector is the Hotel Simi in Zermatt. The Glaros bolt fund offered more than 400 bolts and belays and the Restaurant Rita in Telendos supplied us with fresh swordfish.





200m left, high up


1. KV Brig 5b 15m *
2. D’Sezz 5b+ 20m *


Main Wall from left


3. Stafel 6b+ 25m*
4. Lambda 6a+ 30m****
5. Lambda Capital 7b 50m***
6. Hot Chili 5c+ 25m****
7. Hot Chili Young Love 6c+**
8. Lava 6a 30m****
9. Eruption 7a 50m****
10. Meiggeren 6a 30m**
11. Aroleid 5c 20m*
12. Progressive Rock part.1 30m 6a****
13. Progressive Rock part.2 40m 6c***
14. Progressive Rock part.3 50m 7b+**
15. Dom 6b 40m****
16. Fiirhelzer 30m 6b ***
17. Arbzug 40m 6c **
18. Gerwitscht 40m 6c+ ***
19. Arbzug 40m 6c **
20. Gerwitscht 40m 6c+ ***
21. Chardonnay 40m 7a+ ***
22. El Alamein 40m 6c+ ****
23. Marinelli 20m 4b *
24. Hotel Simi Basement 20m 4c**
25. Hotel Simi 50m 6b+ ****
26. Schwjieschwanz 40m 6a***
27. Schwjieschwanzerrected 50m6b+***
28. General 6a+ 40m****
29. Telendos Star 6b 35m***
30. Nordend 6a 30m**
31. Flauschi 6b+ 30m***
32. Rolfi 6a+ 30m***
33. Hermetje 6b 30m**
34. Cresta Rey 5a 20m**
35. Eggen 5b 20m**
36. Ze Seewjnen 5b+ 20m**

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2012 at 09:56 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.

7 Responses to “Lambda, a new sector on Telendos”

  1. walt says:


  2. Hans-Peter Hoidn says:

    Route Barbara 5b 20m was added between Cresta Rey and Eggen (on August 25 by Urs and Hans-Peter)

  3. Pascal Etienne says:

    Thanks a lot, what a good job!
    Really great crag, will be succesfull soon… The falcons wont stay any longer in the route “Chardonnay”!
    Wefound the routes we did over-rated. For me:
    Dom: 6a+ (instead of 6b)
    El Alamein: 6b+ (6c+)
    Eruption 6c+ (7a)
    Capital: 6c+ (7b)

    A comment about bolting: too much bolts to clip! It “denarures” climbing and makes drag.

  4. Exciting rock climbing trip. Heard a lot about this area. Wish to do rock climbing there soon.

  5. Rene says:

    Very nice area indeed. Just walk alongside Pescatore (Pescatore is on your left) until you see a rock with a blue marking (‘lambda’). We did not mark the time but 25 minutes after IROX is for goats?

    Ideal for a long day climbing on Telendos. Start the day with Lambda and end it with the – also beautiful – IROX.

  6. Chris Craggs says:

    Great work. More routes to do!


  7. Bruno FARA says:

    thanks for this job Urs …

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