Mountain Hardwear athlete, Cheyne Lempe, created Awake In Me after his trip to Greece. This film is about how going to incredible places isn’t an escape from normal life or trying to hide from problems, but the power and energy in a place like Kalymnos helps you work through whatever struggles life throws at you. Going to beautiful places not only helps jolt back into reality, but it helps me take a step back from that way of unhealthy living and thinking.
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
Prince rent a car Gerakios is a family business located at the main square of Elies at Panormos on the main road of Kalymnos.
View from Castle of Chrisocheria. Amazing!
Photo by Mikes Moha Lampos.
Good morning Kalymnos!
Photo by Mikes Moha Lampos.
Great photo of Vathy in Kalymnos.
Photo by Mikes Moha lampos.