Rock Climbing in Kalymnos | Conquer Ultimate Routes with your Inner Adventurous Beast
Updated: 3 days ago
George P. Papadellis | SG Head
with some good tips from AI
Kalymnos has emerged as a mecca for rock climbing enthusiasts from around the world. With its excellent quality rock, diverse climbing routes, and a favorable climate, Kalymnos offers a unique and thrilling experience for climbers of all skill levels. In this article, we delve into the fascinating history of rock climbing in Kalymnos, explore the different seasons for climbing, highlight notable climbing festivals, and provide insights into the rock formations and routes that make Kalymnos a top destination for climbers.
The story of Kalymnos as a climbing destination began in 1995 when Giannis Torelli, a prominent Greek climber, visited the island and captured some unassuming photos of the crags. It was not until the following year when Italian climber Andrea di Bari discovered the immense potential of the area during his summer vacation. Returning in 1997 with fellow climbers, they opened 43 sport routes, paving the way for Kalymnos' climbing revolution. The efforts to develop and promote climbing on the island gained momentum, culminating in the 1st international climbing event in October 2000. This event attracted 180 climbers from 13 different countries and marked a turning point in Kalymnos' ascent to global recognition.
One of the remarkable features of Kalymnos is its favorable climate, allowing climbing activities throughout the year. However, certain seasons offer optimal conditions for climbers.
September and October are ideal months for climbing in Kalymnos. The mild weather and comfortable temperatures make it possible for climbers to enjoy all-day climbing. Rainfall is rare during this period, and late October to November is considered perfect for climbing, making it the peak season.
Despite the winter season, Kalymnos still offers mild and sunny days for climbing. Many premium crags, primarily located between Arginonta and Emporios, are suitable for cold-weather climbing. While some facilities may have limited availability during this season, climbers can still find open restaurants and rental studios in Masouri.
Spring in Kalymnos is comparable to autumn in terms of favorable climbing conditions. The rock on the island dries quickly, although tufas may be seeping if the winter has been rainy. Climbing inside the caves is possible during rain, but thunderstorms should be avoided.
Contrary to expectations, summer can still be an enjoyable season for climbing in Kalymnos. Climbers are advised to seek shade and opt for crags that remain shaded throughout the day, such as Secret Garden and Arginonta Valley. These crags often benefit from cool breezes, and climbers may even need long sleeves for belaying in the morning.
Climbing festivals have played a pivotal role in Kalymnos' rise as a prominent climbing destination. These events not only celebrate the sport but also bring together climbers from diverse backgrounds for a joyous and inclusive experience.
The 2nd Climbing Festival of Kalymnos (2-8 October 2004): This festival further solidified Kalymnos' reputation by attracting climbers from various countries. 600 climbers and new routes.
The 3rd Climbing Festival of Kalymnos (25-30 October 2006): Another successful event that showcased the island's climbing potential and fostered a sense of community among climbers. 1.000 climbers, films and techno party.
The 4th Kalymnos Climbing Festival (22-26 May 2009): A significant festival that continued to enhance Kalymnos' climbing profile and attracted climbers from around the world. 300 climbers.
The 5th Climbing Festival of Kalymnos (18-21 May 2011): A testament to the enduring popularity of Kalymnos as a climbing destination, this festival brought together climbers for a memorable experience.
The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festivals (2012/2013/2014): These festivals, sponsored by The North Face, further elevated Kalymnos' status and highlighted the island's unique climbing offerings.
The Magnificent Rocks
The allure of Kalymnos lies in its remarkable limestone rock, renowned for its exceptional quality. While some sections of the rock can be sharp, there is no loose or rotten rock (choss) to worry about. The climbing experience on Kalymnian rock is far from monotonous, with a diverse range of formations that include slabs, delicate walls, pumpy routes with pockets, and overhanging rock adorned with stalactites and tufas. The rock's characteristics bear resemblance to Thailand's rock formations, albeit slightly sharper.
Kalymnos caters to climbers of all levels, offering a wide range of routes suited to their abilities and preferences. Roughly half of the routes on the island are graded up to 6b+, making it an ideal destination for beginners, older climbers, and those transitioning from indoor climbing. Additionally, over 700 routes are graded 7b and above, providing challenges for experienced climbers seeking greater difficulty. The hardest confirmed grade on Kalymnos is a formidable 9a, exemplified by the iconic route "Los Revolucionarios".
Efforts have been made to establish consistent grading standards on Kalymnos. However, as routes are equipped by climbers from around the world, and some routes have yet to see their second ascent, occasional re-grading may be necessary. In the guidebook and route descriptions, an emphasis is placed on conveying the essence of a route without revealing specific beta, allowing climbers to enjoy the challenge of an onsight ascent. Feedback from climbers regarding grades and descriptions is encouraged to ensure accuracy and maintain the high standard of climbing on Kalymnos.
A Global Premier
Kalymnos has rightfully earned its place as a premier rock climbing destination, attracting climbers from across the globe. The island's intriguing history, diverse climbing seasons, notable festivals, exceptional limestone rock, and varied routes make it an irresistible paradise for climbers of all levels. Whether you are a novice seeking an exhilarating outdoor experience or an experienced climber in search of new challenges, Kalymnos offers an unforgettable adventure amidst its breathtaking cliffs and scenic landscapes.