Team #1 is on the island and climbing is in effect!
Day 1 saw us at Arhi sector (Greek for beginning) which seemed like the perfect place to start. Arhi is a huge orange bowl filled with hard routes, with easier offerings of the grey curtains of limestone on either side.
The group began by sampling some of the grey slabs at around the 6a-6b grade, which were met with either delight or mock-revulsion. Soft fingertip skin was punished mercilessly.
Glenn achieved his hardest ever flash with Mofeta 6c+/7a, a long gritstone-style flowstone wall. A great, confident effort. When Matt was onsighting this route, he began to fall but somehow caught himself, and called out "My hand fell off, but it didn't come off!" which was met with some laughter from below.
Susy woke up her jetlagged muscles on Kastor 7a, which was one she'd been on last trip. Kastor is a classic overhanging tufa-blob-fest up a 30 degree overhung wall. It's a route which punishes indecision. Matt kneebarred his way to glory for an onsight and his "route of the day". I enjoyed an unexpected onsight of the classic overhung Eros 7b+.
We then decided to escape the sun, and went to Summertime sector. It's a small little wall which is hidden away and avoids the afternoon sun - a great spot for a hot day. Sheree took advantage of the easier slab routes to work on some leading technique and blasted up a couple. Susy remembered her sequence on the tough slab Macabi 6b+. Owen (who is supposed to be taking it easy with a bung wrist) had no trouble with the flash. Matt (who has grown up on overhung routes) had to put in more effort and took a plummet. "There's no holds!" is a common cry when on the slabs.
Day 2 dawned on sore fingertips, and Poets was the sector of choice. Highlights were Glenn's impressive onsight of the crag classic O Brothers 6b+. For a relatively modestly graded route, this pitch weaves its way through some impressive orange limestone, with very set sequences. Despite everyone's urgings, Matt got on the only route at the crag with an overhang, which happened to be a one star 6c+. While the overhang provided no trouble whatsoever, the slab above had "no holds!" and the retreat was sounded. He did enjoy a flash of O Brothers amongst other things. Maybe the slabs aren't so bad? Susy pulled out all the stops on the 35m mega pitch of Solomos 6c+. Doing such a long hard slab was outside the G-Star's comfort zone, so just tying in was impressive. Sheree's fave pitch was the wandery Sapfo 6a+.
Owen (The Hustler) seemed to onsight everything (including Solomos) but finally had his first fall on Omeros 6c+/7a a shorter and harder 20m slab. His second shot almost saw him fall from the final move (his whole body pitching backwards in slow motion) but with everyone yelling encouragement, he just managed to reel it in and clipped the anchor. It was awesome.
Last night was Greek Easter which involved a huge religious procession which we went to see in Pothia. Very solemn, contrasted with lots of firecrackers and kids runing around crazy. It was a strange vibe!
We have a rest day today to give the fingertip skin time to grow. A chance for some video analysis of those hard routes, maybe a swim, Skype some friends and generally enjoy ourselves. Back on tomorrow, and I think it'll be time to steepen things up a bit and play with some tufas.
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