Photo by Mikes Moha Lampos.
Arginonta Valley and Black Buddha are two newly-developed sectors across the road from the popular red cliff of Arginonta. Both new sectors were developed as part of the 2015/16 EU-funded maintenance and equipping project. The new cliffs fill a need on Kalymnos for more mid-grade climbs and more shade. With the vast majority of grades between 5c to 7a and shade from 10:00-16:00 at Black Buddha or from noon until the end of the day at Arginonta Valley, both new sectors are expected to become increasingly popular.
Sector Arginonta Valley is above a valley with beautiful, centuries-old gnarled olive trees. The trees were completely neglected but the terrain around them has been cleaned and their shade can now be enjoyed freely. The sector’s three distinct sections offer a bit of everything: steep slabs full of good holds and some horizontal streaks, juggy bulges, and steep overhangs with some colonettes. Most routes were equipped by Aris Theodoropoulos and Claude Idoux.
Sector Black Buddha is high above Arginonta Bay, with beautiful and unusual views over the village and the sea. With many hours of mid-day shade this is another good option for hot days; however, the approach path is in the sun. Routes are around 6a, on grey/black slabby rock full of small bulges and big holds often hiding overhead. Most routes were equipped by Claude Idoux in 2015/16.
Grades are not confirmed yet at either sector, as the routes are very new and have only seen a handful of ascents. As always, we welcome your grade suggestions. After climbing at Arginonta Valley or Black Buddha, the handful of small friendly shops in Arginonta are perfect for relaxing.
Climbing: On slabs full of good holds, small bulges and some horizontal streaks, vertical walls with small holds and juggy bulges, but also steep overhangs with jugs and some colonettes. The cliffs are north-facing, well-bolted, and though originally covered in dry thorny bushes and shrubs, thorough cleaning uncovered quite a few highly enjoyable and varied lines.
See above or scroll down to the bottom of the page for a downloadable list of routes and grades.
Conditions: Ideal for climbing on hot days. Arginonta Valley is in the shade from 11:30 (Left Cave and Right Wall) or 12:30 (Middle Wall) and for the rest of the day. Black Buddha is in the shade from 10:00 until 16:00; the approach, though, is in the sun.
Kids: Both sectors have some suitable areas, though the approach to Black Buddha is much longer and steep at parts. Remember that kids must always be away from the cliffs and never directly beneath climbers.
Black Buddha: Go to Arginonta village. Immediately after the small honey shop, turn right. Pass in front of the church and continue on a concrete road. Park further along, where the road splits and there is an unfinished stone structure. Walk to the right along a faded dirt road, which goes uphill then leftwards, and turns into a path entering a narrow gully. Walk up the gully until you see a cairn on the right. Continue up the steep winding path following the cairns.
See also: photo on page 169. Walking time: 25 min.
Arginonta Valley: Go to Arginonta village. Immediately after the small honey shop, turn right. Pass in front of the church and continue on a concrete road for about 200m. The concrete road turns into a bumpy dirt road. Park 50m further, at the clearing with the huge olive trees. Walk for a further 100m along the dirt road until you see a wire gate on the right. Go through the gate into the olive grove. Make sure to close the door behind you. Walk up to the cliff through the olive trees for another two minutes. Walking time: 5 min.
*Temporary access problems to Arginonta Valley: Part of the area beneath the cliffs is used by a local shepherd for housing sheep and goats. While the shepherd cooperated with the equippers when they were developing the crag, after the work was completed he decided to restrict access to the cliffs because of a land dispute with the municipality. The municipality has promised to resolve the dispute, but there has been no progress at the time of writing. For now, walk along the dirt road until you find portions of the wire fence you can hop over; there are at least two such sections along the wire fence.
Text and photos: Gordon Jenkin, Francis Haden
Staggering along with heavy loads of gear in the deep heat of the South Face after spending a week equipping The Titan Towers was perhaps an unlikely moment of inspiration to volunteer for yet more arduous labour … however that ‘Lightning Bolt’ groove high up on the huge unclimbed wall above the Telendos village had kept us animated about its prospects the whole trip. In the middle of the complex face was a long elegant pillar of clean limestone, a finger from our supportive Titan pointing the way with a compelling zig-zag lightning bolt to show us the path.
We didn’t make any plans but we knew that whatever it took we’d both be standing there again, the next year.
The less elegant aspect of new routing is lifting up 143 bolts, 10 anchor sets, hundreds of metres of rope, drills, batteries, tubes of glue and a considerable array of other paraphernalia. Wondering how you’re going to fit everything into your Easyjet bag is one consideration, another is how you’re going to get half of it up to the top of Telendos.
Luckily Francis landed in Kalymnos several days before me, and eager to start, hauled freight up a cunning path to the summit Telendos plateau. Rigging a line safely on a big wall with multiple hazards and getting the detail of the line of the climb sorted is usually the hardest part of the game. Francis pushed hard and in five hours made it from the boat landing at Irox up to the summit and managed to fix a line down the whole pillar!
It was nice to feel in a holiday mood as we engineered the approach path and started working together drilling and cleaning the pitches while always looking out over the stunning view over onto Kalymnos and the coming and goings of the ferries and people, quite a different atmosphere from our earlier experience, several years before, feeling all alone up on the isolation of the Eterna face.
Five days of dust, dirt and discomfort passed us by. Relief from the constant heat of the sun was found in rewarding cold bottles of Mythos drank in the late evenings spent at the waters edge down in the village. Finally the work was done. We had tried hard to make the route as safe and friendly as possible along with (as before) placing extra bolts at all the various belays to help facilitate any future rescue.
It feels exciting to be standing with just quick-draws and chalk at the base of the climb after so much effort and anticipation. Tom Rogers joins us and we all take a slow pace up the climb savoring our position but also weighed down by the heat of the airless day. The first pitch is the crux and a Beauty too, the White Shield has lots of fun bridging, Put a Zeus In It is a sea of funky chicken-heads and the Lightning Bolt pitch delivers as expected. Arriving near the top at the shady bower amidst the spacious comforts of the terrace that is the Grand Goat Hotel we relax and lie about while sipping the last of our water. One final short pitch and then we’ll be finished.
The route is Prometheus, named after our friendly Titan.
Back home there is news that our climb has had an immediate second ascent. It’s gratifying to hear positive comments that they enjoyable the route, found it well geared as well as appreciating our marked path down from the summit. We’re remembering the sights, sounds and smells of Kalymnos and wondering where we might be next year…
Prometheus: 200 metres. Eight pitches. F6b+ (F6a obl.)
Equipped: Francis Haden, Gordon A Jenkin
Materials: All bolts/anchors are titanium, glued with high-end Hilti RE500 epoxy resin throughout.
First Ascent: Francis Haden, Gordon A Jenkin, Tom Rogers 1st October 2016
(A special thanks to Titan Climbing and Steve & Sue McDonnell for all their support).
Prometheus climbs the prominent pillar midway between Telendos village and the entry into the Inspiration sector. Follow the approach as for Inspiration then head upslope at a junction marked by three yellow dots. Further yellow waymarks and cairns lead to a rope hand-line on a short slab. Continue up to a cool, shady tree at the foot of the cliff where further hand-lines aid an easy traverse left to the large pedestal at the base of the route. Approach time 35 mins.
Follow yellow waymarks and cairns up across the summit plateau to the far ridge then descend a gully as a short-cut to the chapel of St Constantine.
Francis Haden leading ‘Lightning Bolt’ pitch
Gordon Jenkin bolting the end of pitch two
Francis Haden leading ‘White-Shield’ pitch
Titanium abseil rings
Great photo of Vathy in Kalymnos.
Photo by Mikes Moha lampos.
The Send - Climbing topos donated all the profits from the sale of the Kalymnos climbing topo app last year (approximately 1000eur)
After the coldest, rainiest, windiest winter in recent memory, the weather in Kalymnos has done an about-face and now the sun shines bright and (too) warm. The season seems to start off with lots of climbers, Masouri is out of hibernation and a couple of new mini-markets and restaurants have popped up, though not much else has changed. But there’s also really good news on the rebolting front this year.
The good news is that funding for an official rebolting project has been approved and will be implemented in Kalymnos later this year. After many years of emergency route maintenance done by volunteers, this year funding through a proper EU program will be provided via a local contractor to use primarily towards route rebolting and additionally toward some new routing. Works will start in the summer and must be completed by the end of the year. Overseeing the project will be Aris Theodoropoulos alongside a team of other qualified, experienced equippers, including members of theKalymnos Rescue Service.
For the record, the last official rebolting program was nearly five years ago, so to say it’s long overdue is an understatement. This year’s rebolting program is described in more detail below.
The Kalymnos rebolting project comes with the following specifications:
• 2400 stainless-steel glue-in bolts (316L, 12mm) are to be used for rebolting existing routes
• 400 V-type anchors with two opposed carabiners are to replace older lower-offs
• 580 carabiners are to be placed on anchors without carabiners or used to replace worn carabiners
• 100 new routes are to be equipped using stainless-steel bolts (316L, 12mm) and V-type anchors with two opposed carabiners
• Some roadside crag markers/signposts will be added
• All parts of the rebolting/equipping program must be completed by the end of 2015.
No doubt this rebolting program is a very good thing for Kalymnos, but it will only help to rebolt about 10% of the total routes. And the fact is that funds for rebolting are almost non-existent. Now, more than ever, we must work for the longevity of Kalymnos; besides correcting the routes in need, future climbing development must be done the right way to ensure that Kalymnos remains one of the safest family climbing destinations in the world.
To this end, a collaboration is underway between the Greek Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing, the Hellenic Mountain Guides Association and Climb Kalymnos, to put together a set of official guidelines for equipping sport routes all over Greece. They will be largely based on these principles. The goal is to provide some structure and quality control, because when new routing is left completely unchecked, as it has been over the last few years, many new routes in Greece and Kalymnos end up poorly-protected or equipped with inappropriate materials which become corroded after a matter of months or a couple of years (i.e. homemade bolts, bolts with no certification or bolts by unreliable manufacturers, to name a few). Effective sometime next year, this set of guidelines will be proposed for all new sport routes in Greece. Perhaps not a perfect solution, but in the absence of funds and resources for rebolting it is a step in the right direction.
Starting with the Kalymnos rebolting project this year is something of a transition, the goal being to “tidy up” as many existing routes as possible and to slow down haphazard new routing. So if you were planning to equip new routes on Kalymnos this year, may we suggest that you put your new routes on hold and devote your time to checking your older routes instead. If their materials, bolting or cleaning need improvement, please correct them.
Not everybody will agree; but to those who do, we would like to say that everybody involved in route maintenance, rebolting and rescue on Kalymnos greatly appreciates your understanding and cooperation.
A rescue team in Kalymnos was the subject of many conversations in the past, initiated mostly by climbers and locals which are familiar with the advantages and benefits of this factor in the sport climbing industry that blooms in Kalymnos.
Climbing and especially in Kalymnos is considered very safe, compared with placed like Thailand (rusty and spaced bolts in most cases). In the safety of the climbing venues in Kalymnos also contributes the fact that the routes are maintained by the local community in regular basis.
Despite the efforts to make Kalymnos the safest climbing venue possible, we can't exclude the human factor, which is to blame in the most cases, when accidents occur. The rescue team gives to Kalymnos an important safety badge!
The rescue team operates since 2014 and consists of 6 volunteer climbers and 14 volunteers that are trained to assist them. They are trained to approach the climbing crags with or without the use of rope and can provide the necessary first aid if needed.
If anyone needs the help of kalymnos Rescue team he has to call 112 and the rescue team will be alerted.
We at kalymnos Bookings wish all the best for their hard job and difficulties they have to face.
For the first time in Greece it is held the annual meeting of UIAA medical committee and combined with high level conference in altitude medicine and first aid & rescue in mountains. Kalymnos island is one of the most interesting places around the world for climbing. The speakers will be coming from all over the world and we hope the participants will have the chance to collect valuable and expertised information and be inspired for climbing mountains. Check below for contact information, also you check the map on the end of this webpage for a map with the exact location of the hotel. Use the left side slider to zoom in and out of the map.
Technical Meeting of UIAA MEDCOM.
Mountain Medicine Conference.
First Aid Courses.
For information and more details about the conference you can contact me here. The conference will be hosted by the hotel ELIES which is located at Panormos, Kalymnos, Greece. There is a special room type for MEDCOM members for reservations which you can see in the hotel ELIES website under the name of “UIAA Medical Commission”. You can contact the hotel using the information listed below or you can navigate through their website here. (+30) 2243047890
Kalymnos, the fourth largest island of the Dodecanese Group is widely known as an international sponge-harvesting trade center. After WW II, Kalymnos remained the only Greek island engaged in the sea sponge-harvesting activity, supplying domestic as well as foreign markets. Thanks to its unique geomorphology, Kalymnos is a tourist destination known worldwide for offeringalternative vacations and activities such as climbing, scuba diving, mountain hiking and spelunking, a true paradise for passionate action-lovers!
Here you will find all the final results of the North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival 2014.
Eterna 6b+ (6a+ obl.) is a brand-new multi-pitch route on the South Face of Telendos between Wild Country and Wings for Life. It took the equippers Francis Haden and Gordon A. Jenkin six unglamorous days of dirt and hard work to equip the route, but it was worth it at the end. Notably, they used titanium glue-in bolts throughout the 11-pitch route (124 bolts) plus nine titanium ring sets for an optional abseil descent. This makes Eterna possibly the longest multi-pitch route on Kalymnos, and the first route to be equipped with titanium bolts.
In the equippers’ own words, “we were both in agreement that the route should be friendly, accessible and well-bolted to the best of our abilities.” Francis and Gordon kindly sent us a more detailed account of Eterna below (it’s a good story with a romantic twist!). For more photos and information, see Francis Haden’s blog.
Photos and topo for Eterna courtesy of Francis Haden and Gordon Jenkin.
If you climb Eterna, feel free to share your thoughts. Thank you Gordon, Francis and Donna!
Six days to fix lines, clean and bolt the line and to climb the route.
Now suddenly it is almost over.
An eventful journey had brought Francis, Donna and myself, to a comfortable ledge at the end of pitch nine. We all look up. Above lies the headwall, which we named The Promised Land.
This is why we had travelled to Kalymnos, a continuous sea of small chicken-head holds leading up over a couple of bulges on a near vertical wall of orange. Two pitches of fantastic climbing interspersed with a wild hanging stance that pushed the sky away.
We were all familiar with the South face of Telendos and the fun of getting lost on its summit. Francis and Donna had previously climbed the original line of ‘Wings for Life’ and I had done ‘Wild Country’. Each individually enjoying the Kalymnos vibe, Francis and I had designs on creating a third route on the wall.
We were under no illusions about the amount of time, dirt, labour and expense it would take, but we were both in agreement that the route should be friendly, accessible and well bolted to the best of our abilities. Francis was the inspiration, and considerable expertise, in the decision to use titanium glue-ins fixed with premium quality (Hilti RE500) epoxy resin throughout. In addition, Francis had worked with the manufacturer (Titan Climbing) to design a fully titanium abseil ring set. The entire route would be equipped for an optional abseil descent.
So there we were. On holiday. Day one. We each picked up a huge haul bag full ropes and drills and started the slow, painful walk to re-visit the summit plateau. By the day’s end we had reached the exposed edge of the wall and had abseiled down, finding our line and rigging 300m of static line (SRT) caving style. The long walk out from the base to reach the cold refreshment of a Mythos beer in the village went surprisingly quickly.
The weather continued unstable the next day, so no boat ride to the base. Loaded up with endless gear it was an hour and a half to jumar to the top of the wall and check in for work. Our plan was to clean and bolt working down the route from the top. In theory(!) each subsequent day becoming easier.
Francis and I had bolted a big multi-pitch in North Vietnam the previous year, so our experience from this was invaluable in working efficiently together to deal with all the logistical nightmares that come with this sort of game. Francis put in a great effort dealing with the headwall pitches, alone, up above me. Also doing all of the glueing of our 124 bolt placement and 9 abseil sets.
In four days the route was complete which is more than could be said for us!
Day six and now we get to climb. Donna joins us for the ascent. A late start but the pitches fly past. Six hours later we’ve climbed the stunning headwall and pull onto the top. The views are dramatic. Francis has planned this moment to propose to Donna. As she makes the very last move on the climb he produces the ring and romance (she accepts!).
We all abseil back down, retrieving the last of our fixed lines to sit on an airy stance as we watch our waiting boatman eventually depart back to Massouri without us. Landing back on the ground in the early darkness we again pick up our heavy haulbags stuffed with static lines and climbing ropes for the long, slow walk to the village.
Eterna: Eleven pitches. F6b+ (F6a+ obl.)
Equipped: Francis Haden, Gordon A Jenkin
First Ascent: Francis Haden, Gordon A Jenkin, Donna Kwok 30th October 2014
Francis Haden (http://francishaden.wordpress.com)
Gordon A Jenkin
A special thanks to Titan Climbing, Aris Theodoropoulos, Claude Idoux, Steve McDonnel and the Kalymnos Rescue Team for their support.
The 3rd and final “edition” of the North Face Kalymnos festival is over, and Kalymnos is back to its usual October self: perfect weather, lots of climbers, good energy. The influx of climbers is expected to continue through November, as many local businesses report being fully booked until the end of next month. There are no news yet about any climbing events planned for 2015, but looking back on this year’s festival, there were some highs and lows. Here’s what we liked about the festival, as well as what we thought could be better next time.
What we liked…
• Prize money from the “Pro Legends” contest was donated to two very important Kalymnos services: €3000 was donated to the Kalymnos Rescue Team, and €2000 to the Orthopedic Ward of the Kalymnos Hospital, where several climbers have been treated successfully over the years. (Though, as the representative of the hospital said upon accepting the donation, “Thank you. Now I hope I never see any of you in the hospital again.”)
• The North Face vouched that for each registered climber, they would contribute one bolt towards route maintenance in Kalymnos and also do the actual bolt replacement. If we’re not mistaken, that translates to roughly 500 bolts. Hopefully this maintenance will happen soon.
• A team from The North Face and Climbing Technology reached out to local high schools and organized a climbing day at sector Kasteli for up to 15 students. From what we heard, the students absolutely loved it.
• Everybody raved about Saturday night’s party at Masouri Beach. The beach party was complete with good music, slacklining, fireworks over the sea, and a diverse crowd of climbers and non-climbers alike. The last party-goers to leave did so around six the following morning.
…And what could be better next time
• Season. Does an event in the midst of the busiest climbing season of the year really benefit the island? On the one hand, the festival can capitalize on the large number of climbers already on the island; but on the other, the island is already bursting at the seams in October, with or without the festival. A better idea might be to have a festival during a lower climbing season, when the island will surely benefit from a few hundred extra climbers, and the climbers will not have trouble finding accommodation, rental cars or a table at the restaurants.
• Some Kalymnians felt “excluded” from the Festival. They were disappointed that their island—history, traditions, cuisine— was not better showcased through the event; they also wished the climbing venues were more accessible for ordinary Kalymnians who wanted to see the competitions up close. (This was mostly an issue during 2012’s PROject Competition at sector Psili Riza, and at this year’s PRO Legends contest at Princess Canyon [South Face of Telendos] and the DWS event in Vathy, which was visible only from a boat.)
• With the exception of the great beach party, the other evening events seemed to lack momentum. The awards ceremony on Saturday night was downright uncomfortable. Winning pairs of the Open Marathon and Big Marathon were called up on the stage, where they awkwardly stood with their prizes, while no other information besides their names and nationalities was shared. (It would have been nice to know how
many points each pair earned, how many routes they each climbed, did they do any special training, that sort of thing. Incidentally, one of the climbers in the winning team of the Open Marathon Mixed Category is from Kalymnos. That would also have been nice to know.) In turn, the audience was so disengaged that generating some applause was like pulling teeth, despite the valiant efforts of the presenter.
There was no PROJect competition in this year’s Festival, but Alex spent a week in Kalymnos nevertheless. And how! Just hours after he arrived he climbed Los Revolucionarios 9a in a handful of attempts. (Los Revolucionarios at sector Odyssey is the hardest route on the island; Adam Ondra was the first to redpoint it in 2009). Also at Odyssey, he climbed Tagmania (a Nicolas Favresse project to the right of Orion) which he graded 8c+ after he moved the anchor a few meters lower. Megos also did the first ascents of two notable new lines at sector Arhi: Bijou Caché 8c (to the left of Giorgio de la Jungle) and Youpi L’Ecole est Finie 8c+ (to the right of Orgasme Minérale). Both routes were equipped by Simon Montmory, a resident of Kalymnos and good friend of Alex’s. Alex also onsighted all the hard routes bolted by TNF for the “Pro Legends” Contest at Princess Canyon, which he loved.
The new mayor of Kalymnos, Yannis Galouzis, who took office a little over a month ago, has so far only been familiar with the bad side of climbing. (As the chief Orthopedic Surgeon at the Kalymnos Hospital, he’s had his share of climbers with broken bones). But after mingling with the climbers during this year’s festival, he gladly accepted Jens Larssen’s invitation to come see what climbing itself is all about. So we took the mayor along to sector Arhi yesterday (Wednesday) and after a brief intro to climbing, he proceeded to enthusiastically tick a 5a, Archagellos, then a 5b, Arianna (on top-rope, of course). After climbing, the mayor was so excited and pumped full of adrenaline that he hugged everyone with a huge smile on his face. In our brief conversations with the new mayor so far, we are happy to see that he has a lot of questions about climbing, its further development and its long-term conservation.
Only time will tell, but we truly hope this is the start of a long and happy relationship between the new municipality and the climbing community of Kalymnos.
An accident at View of Chapel St Photis last week (involving a very large loose block) once again emphasizes the vital importance of proper route equipping. To a degree, all climbers know that rock can fall without warning. But at these two crags, especially, climbers report that dangerous big blocks near bolted routes are ready to come loose. Carl Dawson, who is familiar with last week’s accident, says: “There have been several reports of unstable rock at two new sectors at which bolted routes have been recently added.
“View Of Chapel St Photis (to the left of St Photis church) and Elephant Slide (to the left of the approach path to Prophitis Andreas) have both received attention from equippers but it would seem that, on some routes, dangerously loose rock is still in place on the cliff face. Regrettably, on one of these routes a large block came detached as a climber reached the last clip and this resulted in a broken knee and crush injuries plus a call-out for the Kalymnos Mountain Rescue team. Fortunately the route took a traversing line, otherwise the block which weighed around 80 kilos would easily have killed the belayer.”
A piece of the loose block that caused the injuries is pictured below.
The routes at both of these Kalymnos crags, View of Chapel St Photis and Elephant Slide, were equipped last year. This near-miss is a crucial reminder to all equippers on Kalymnos to avoid ‘drill-and-go’ equipping.
Equippers, be known for the quality, not quantity, of your routes. One of the best equippers we know always says “it takes one day to bolt a route and two days to clean it afterwards.” In our opinion, this is an important rule of thumb to follow.
Climbers, please DO NOT CLIMB at View of Chapel Saint Photis or Elephant Slide until these crags are cleaned of the loose blocks. There are plenty more crags to choose from.
To the injured climber, we send out our sincere wishes for a speedy and full recovery.