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.
Alex Megos sends
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 climbs
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.