Kalymnos: A Paradise in the Aegean Sea
“There is still a plenty of undiscovered rock,” said Aris Theodoropoulos, keeper of the island of Kalymnos, publisher and the author of one of the best climbing guides on the planet. “Every year,” he said, “we create new crags and I think there’s quality virgin rock to last for the next 20 years.” All you have to do is walk a bit further than ten minutes required for the approaches of most of the classic Kalymnos crags, an you begin to see the endless potential.
Kalymnos is known as an island paradise island for climbers, and has fast become one of the most dreamed of climbing destinations in the world. It is an island adrift in the Aegean sea, just off the Turkish coastline. It is a land of tufas and scooters.
Whereas sponge diving was the primary industry on the island for generations, the 21st Century has seen the local economy become more heavily depending on climbing and the tourism it brings.
The potential for vertical and steep adventures on Kalymnos was first plumbed by Giannis Torelli in 1995. His initial development was later built upon by Italian climbers like Andrea di Bari and Andrea Gallo. Since then, many of the world’s best climbers have made pilgrimmages to Kalymnos: Chris Sharma, Katie Brown, Martina Cufar, Catherine Destivelle, Liv Sansos, Dave Graham, Francois Legrand, Adam Ondra, and many more.
Autumn is the best time to climb, though spring is more than okay—and don’t forget about winter and summer, also not bad. January and February are a bit riskier conditions-wise, but each season offers something different. For instance, summer is a perfect time for climbing holidays with the family: hit the beach and soak up some sun in the morning, and then climb when the shadows hit the crags around 2:00 in the afternoon.
Some of the most popular sectors the Grande Grotta, Panorama, Odyssey and Secret Garden—precious gems among dozens of other worthy spots.
There are some interesting sectors to be climbed at the neighboring island of Telendos, too.
Whatever time of year you end up in Kalymnos, make sure you’ve built up some endurance before you get there—at least to get the most out of your trip. Be prepared for long-term, three dimensional journeys across tufa and stalactite roofs. Routes in Grande Grotta or Panorama reach 55 meters in length and can take up to an hour to climb! But, then, again, it’s also plenty easy to find hundreds of routes for us mere mortals with more reasonable climbing. Multi-piches are in rich supply, too.
To access some sectors, it’s necessary to rent a scooter. Motoring around the island with all the breathtaking scenery is an unforgettable experience.
Kalymnos truly is a climbing paradise—what are you waiting for?