Kalymnos 2010 - Trip Report 4 (Grande Grotta)

It's THE most famous area on the island. A truly world class cave, possibly the most heavily stalactite-laden climbing cave in the world. You call it the Grande Grotta. We call it today's playground :) Seriously, the Grande Grotta is spectacular. You've never seen such rock architecture, absolute chock-covered with dripping stalactites. It's crazy. And the routes are crazy.

We had a sprinkle of rain in the morning. That was all it took to ensure we'd have a crowd up in the cave sector, where you can be guaranteed dry rock. Because of this, Owen wasn't taking any chances. No warm up, his rope was placed directly underneath Trella 7a, the mind boggling 40m pitch of uber proportions. (Trella translates to 'madness'). He laced himself to the nines with a veritable hula-skirt of quickdraws, and set to work. Like most of the insanely steep routes here, Trella does have rest positions, and the key to climbing it is to find the rests and use them well. Whether it's riding a stalactite, copping a kneebar, or bridging between your feet and back like a chimney. Owen used them all and came to within two metres of the top of the giant beast. It was then we saw him start to shake and the cry echoed out "You've got to be kidding me!". As if sensing his plight, everyone in the Grotta stopped, paused, and then erupted into encouragement in all languages. "Allez Allez!" "Venga!" "Come on!" With his last ounce of strength, he held it together, made the final move and clipped the anchor. Cheers!

Susy's fave pitch from the last camp was Trella and she'd pitched off the finale. So there's no doubt it was going down on this trip. Not today though! It's a tough unit and commands respect every time, as Glenn found out at about the 2/3 point on his flash attempt when he climbed high, yet could not get into a stable position to clip. The resulting fall was a biggie. Maybe 8-10m? Later in the day for some extra training, he toproped the line to clean the quickdraws only to fall on the final hold! Well, we know the route won't be getting underestimated at the next rematch (stay tuned).

The route DNA 7a+ is in the guts of the Grotta and is steeeeep. Perhaps 40 degrees overhung for its entire 20m length. Huge holds for sure, but you better be able to find those rests, otherwise your forearms may explode. We asked Matt if he'd try for the onsight. "Nah, I can't onsight it - I'll try for the flash." Huh? You haven't been here before!? "Well, I watched the video on YouTube." Ahh - climbing in the modern age! After he somehow talked Susy into putting the quickdraws up for him, he didn't disappoint, with a very smooth flash of the route, finding two upside down hands off double kneebars, amongst a multitude of other rests. So, a 'hardest flash' PB for the Slab King.

Speaking of kneebars, Sam managed to wrangle her first hands free kneebar on her ascent of Monahiki Elia 6a+. This pumpy steep route had been a nemesis for the Slab Queen on previous trips, so she did really well to fire it off first try. Sheree did likewise.

And me? Well I had a ripper day running around shooting video, taking photos, avoiding doing much belaying, and I even managed to do some climbing. In fact, one of my best onsighting days I've had. It was "Attack of the Long Routes". Packed away safe and sound were Aeolia Extension 40m 7a+, Tufantastic 40m 7b+, and Super Carpe Diem 40m 7c. The 7c (my best OS grade) was a funny one, as Sam had already walked down with most of the group and as I was getting ready to climb, I realised she had my climbing shoes. So the only option was to wear hers! Thank goodness 1) my wife and I have the same size climbing shoes, 2) it's a steep Kalymnos route and footwork is optional and 3) I'm comfortable wearing ladies shoes.

Oh, and on the walk-out, I touched a goat. I am now the goat whisperer.