Climbing in Kalymnos – Greece
Climbing in Kalymnos is an all time favourite. And there must be a reason that it’s still one of the top destinations to go to today.
Kalymnos is an island some 20 ferry minutes away by from the Airport in Kos, Greece. We discovered Kalymnos in 2001, many people kept saying that there’s so much potential, you could bolt up routes for the rest of your life. Today (04/2014), I discovered another 30 pages of updates for the guide-book that came out in 2010. There were 64 sectors and 1700 routes. And they have not stop developing the island till today. (Update 2016: 3000 routes!!) We left for Kalymnos in 2001 for the first time to check out those “21” sectors people were ranting about.
Climbing in Kalymnos and developments
We returned from our 3rd trip to Kalymnos in 2009, now offering up to more than 45 different sectors. It’s amazing what the island has developed into within those couple of years. The infrastructure is perfect for families with children, or for climbers wishing to combine both climbing and beaching / snorkelling. On rest days, discover the island on your rented Scooter and find scenic treasures around the island. Kalymnos is a paradise for climbers, if you love climbing by the sea.
The Island has barely any trees. The landscape is rough, filled with thorny bushes that scars you with scratches on the way to the crag. Wear good shoes ith a solid sole and comfortable, breezy long trousers that don’t tear easily. I didn’t….and collected plenty of scratches. The island is full of thyme shrubs, all yummies for the goats that run around. The island is awesome with it’s high mountains, cliffs, blue skies and those crystal blue waters.
The best time to go there is from April till October. It is possible to climb during the winter, as there are sectors which are sheltered from the cold north wind and rain, it’s hard to imagine anything like that. September and October is the peak of all seasons. We were surprised to find many other climbers who started their climbing day at 8 am in the morning. Usually, the sun comes in at noon. That’s when you change on to beach mode.
Climbing in Kalymnos is very international, there are climbers at all levels. Throughout the island, there are many sectors with friendly, perfect bolting. Lately, many difficult routes have been equipped too, so that the strong must not fear boredom with “just” an 8a. Los Revolucionarios is the first 9a equipped on the island.
Not only are there tufas & blobs on Kalymnos. There are sectors with technical, crimpy holds, chicken heads, ledges, holes, slabs and vertical walls. All sectors are within reach in a 5 – 20 minute walk or the max with 50 mins (Jurassic, Sicati Cave, Telendos, Galiatini, Magic Wall) You might want to bring a helmet along. In certain sectors with a lot of traffic, some stalactites might break, or like from my personal experience, when goats pass by just above the routes and rock fall rains on you. Be aware and take precautions. We brought our helmets along actually more for the scooters we rented. I tried those helmets they supply you at the shops, but they were all too big for me and flew off every time when we accelerated. The scooters cost between 10 – 15,-€/ day and Mike’s Bikes has good and friendly service. Small cars are also available. Check out AVIS in Massouri for prices.
Do plan to get up early to get best conditions. The sun hits most of the sectors between 13.30 – 14.00. Generally you climb till noon, and beach off the rest of the day, or end up your climbing day at a tavern by the sea with some “small fish” or fresh whole fish at unbeatable prices. Sectors that have the longest possible shade during the day is Odyssey, Ghost kitchen, Spartacus, Sparten and Afternoon, Kalydna, Stankill, Iannis, Sylbelglades, Sicati cave and Telendos. Don’t forget your head lamps if you intend to climb way after the sunset. Now and then, the island experiences a black out which last some 15 mins… hope that it’s not your pizza that’s in the oven right now..
Telendos, the island with possible shade
Aris and friends, and some guys from switzerland opened up a few new sectors on Telendos island. Telendos lies opposite of Kalymnos, it’s sectors are all either east or north facing. Take a boat (1,50 €) from Myrties that runs every half an hour to the island and back. The first bolting took place in 2001 in Sector Eros with Markus Schmed from Switzerland, Michel from Innsbruck and Claudia. Shade gets in from 11.00 and you find climbing in overhangs on pumpy routes and a great panorama over the sea. It’s also not as crowded as Kalymnos. 100m further down by the seashore, you would find Sector Irox. Newly bolted in Easter 2007 and offering some 50 routes directly by the seaside. 2 more sectors further right of Irox are: Pescatore and Glaros (newly bolted in Nov. 2008). Topos are available if you ask for them by Gianni, the boatman. I’d suggest you take the private speed boat from Telendos and save the 50 mins walking there with a heavy rucksack. Call up Gianni, the boatman and make an appointment for the following day to take you there at reasonable prices. (See Guidebook or any of the many posters hanging around for his contact) Combine the end of the day with a meal at the harbour. Meat or fish, the restaurants know how to keep their guests happy with good food. At present, Telendos offers up to 120 new routes and many more to come.
Since 2007, Kalymnos has it’s own airport. Flights from Athens fly there 1-2x a day. The airport lies on top of a little hill that lies between Pothia and Massouri. When strong winds blow, it could happen that planes don’t fly, and ferries don’t start from Mastichari (Kos). Getting stranded in Kos for a couple of days can be entertaining too, as Kos offers some boulder areas.
Eating out in Kalymnos is a fantastic experience. We were having more trouble keeping our waste lines together. There are many Bars and Cafés serving breakfast, dozens of taverns to choose from, an italian and one french restaurant in Massouri. You will find many climbers in Fatolitis and the Glaros Bar. Free wifi is available everywhere. Most of the restaurants and shops are open till the end of October. The taverns in Myrties, Armeos, Argrinonda and Emporios are just as good, and not as crowded. The prices on that part of the island are unbeatable, comparing to Kos. A whole meal could cost between 6 and 8 € be it fish or meat. Try not only the greek salad, but also the traditional Meltzemi salad or fresh whole fish which is divinely grilled and served with home made olive oil, or the grilled octopus, katsiki, kléftiko, jemistés, Octopus balls (Keftedes), Dolmades… the list goes on. Be flexible, and ask them what’s fresh. One of the unbeatable meals we had was in Harry’s Paradise, in Emporios. Very much recommended.
Choosing your accomodation wisely
Once it comes to where to stay, be aware that Greek standards don’t meet up to those standards you are used to. You’d find studios and apartments all between
15 – 30,- € (Update 2016) 30€ – 70€ per night, without breakfast. Most of the studios have a small kitchenette which enables you to make a simple meal in your apartment when you don’t feel like eating out. The showers are – no matter where you go – mostly generated by the solar. So it can sometime happen that hot water runs out once the sun goes down and gives some logistic problems. This is common and happens often in most of the studios. The water that comes out of the tap is salty. It’s drink water but you definately can’t make any breakfast tea with it. Everybody usually buys water, or you can fill up your water bottles at 2 springs that’s found in Massouri. If you put up in Massouri, Myrties or Armeos, the main climbing sectors are all within walking distances. But if you intend to walk, it’s quite a challenge especially in the 30°C heat. It’s also possible to get to the other sectors on the island with the bus that cruises between Emporios and Pothia regularly.
Kalymnos is a great place for climbing, beaching, snorkeling and exploring those caves. I loved the friendly and very relaxed atmosphere and people, the great quality rocks, friendly bolting, clear water perfect for snorkeling and the island itself. There’s no time for getting bored with so many more routes and sectors popping out from every corner of the island. It’s an island made just for us climbers :-)
- Small supermarkets in Massouri,
- Bigger Supermarkets in Kantouni..and cheaper!
- 70-100m Rope for longer routes, but 70m is the minimum. 16-21 quickdraws
- Climber’s Nest in Armeos – is a good address to buy gear or Guide Books. They rent equipment too. Birgit speaks german. She’s also strongly involved in www.hands-of-kalymnos.com an animal welfare society for abandoned animals in Kalymnos.
- Wild Sport shop in Massouri, next to the Plaza Hotel. They have a broad assortment on clothing and gear.
Where to stay:
If you like to get to the sectors by foot, Massouri & Armeos and Melitsitha are the nearest to sectors like Poets, Grande Grotta, Spartacus. If you decide on any other town, it’s best to get a scooter or car, or check out the bus timetable that runs between Emporios and Pothia. Here’s a few links to check find the perfect place for you.
Kalymnos Rock Climbing Guidebook by Aris Theodoropoulos 2010, ISBN: 978-960-9456-19-7 – you can get an update at Climbers Nest or in the net
Kalymnos Rock Climbing Guidebook by Aris Theodoropoulos in 2016
All year but it’s good to avoid the summer where the heat is highest. Best time to come is from April to October. All restaurants and shops do close at the end of October / November.
Charter a flight to KOS, hop on a taxi to Mastichari (13€ – 15€) harbour, then take the fast ferry (Kalymnos Star, 20 mins, 6€/pers) or the slow one (50 mins) to Pothia. Alternatively, you can fly to Athens, and then take the flight directly to Kalymnos airport. At present, the plane flies twice daily. Do check the time tables on the day you take the ferry to be sure that it’s really leaving on time. If it’s stormy, ferries might not operate.
Boats from Kos: Kalmynos Star or ANEM
- https://climbkalymnos.com gives you all information for a successful vacation.
Post revised and updated: 04.2014