Today, our second group of climbers flew out of Kalymnos. As we wave goodbye through the glass window at the Kalymnos airport, Sam and I are saying goodbye to our last links to Australia for the next ... who knows? But let's step back a few days.
After the big day at Ghost Kitchen, the group's seventh climbing day was scheduled for Spartacus (aka Spar-ta-klus). This big orange bowl is one of my favourite sectors on the island because of its looong routes. I quickly ran up Tales of Greek Heroes 6b+ to set a toprope on this 40m pitch. You can use a 70m rope just by the skin of your teeth.
Ronsley and Lena both toproped on this and Andy punched out a lead. Sam has a project up here dating back to 2007. The route is called Harakiri. Its modest grade of 6b belies its steep, pumpy climbing and sequency crux. It's basically Sam's anti-style. Andy was kind enough to put the draws on "Bloody hell I'm pumped!" and Sam decided to have a warm up burn. Long story short, the warm up burn turned into the send. Happy days!
It seemed the sendage gates were open so I jumped on Neska Polita 7c+ and dispatched it on my second try after misreading the tricky crux traverse. We needed a route that would take Andy out of his comfort zone and the steep, long and intimidating Kerveros 7a fit the bill. Andy fought the good fight but it wasn't to be. Another one to come back for!
After a well needed rest day, Seabreeze and Katherina were the sectors in mind for what proved to be a warm but windy day. Seabreeze consists of a sweeping expanse of the typical Kalymnian grey-blue slabs. The routes here can be quite long, up to 35 metres, which is nice. Some rock features that differentiate Seabreeze are the chickenheads (nice) and some very sharp gouttes (V-shaped pockets). Ruth got stuck in and led a few routes, as did Ronsley, who came down from one and immediately led the one next door.
We were also really keen to get Lena super confident with belaying lead climbers on the Sum, so I was the crash test dummy and Sam was the belay coach. I proceeded to climb a 5b, taking falls every few metres. There's quite a bit to learn in terms of giving a soft catch whilst considering any obstacles, how to help the climber regain their highpoint without expending much energy etc. She was quite intuitive with this learning and now seems rock solid on the catch.
After punching through a few routes from 5b to 6b, we headed around the corner to Katherina sector. This red limestone wall sits overlooking Arginonda and looks a bit chossy from the road, but it actually hides a few gems, one of which is the aptly named And Now For Something Completely Different 5c which Lena is climbing in the photo below. It's a big trench thing and contains some wacky 3D climbing.
Ruth and Andy climbed the saucy Pornokini 6a which is famous as the route an 84 year old guy onsighted. Ronsley led Tufa Slab 5a while Lena escaped the sun...
Dave got inspired by a newish route called Albi Bak 7a+. It's always a worry when a route in Kalymnos has zero chalk. But up he went anyway. It climbs a prickly, flowstone covered vertical wall to a corner, runout climbing to a roof, then the crux turning the roof on reachy crimps to a short, steep slab finale. Dave gave it a couple of burns and despite drawing blood and taking some big falls, couldn't quite put it in the bag. He knows the value of power endurance training now to increase that "six move pump clock".
Keen to share the blood and sweat, Dave talked Andy into getting on board, and the reachy route was right up Lightfoot's alley. He came off the roof on his flash attempt, methodically worked the sequence, and then on the second burn after going up and down on the roof for a couple of gut-wrenching minutes, inexplicably came off again (aka doing "an Andy"). Gahhhh! It was a heartbreaker. I had to hug the guy.
The final clibing day was dictated by the boys. Ronsley said "If we go to Odyssey, I'm going to sit and project Atena all day". Andy had unfinished business after "Andying" off the top of Dionysos 7a and Dave had his Itaca 6c (more like 7a) project from not only this trip, but the previous camp in 2008. So, it was decided.
First up, Ronsley. I dunno if it was the fact that it was the last day, but something lit a fire under him and he came outta nowhere on Atena. One solid burn, then another - on lead - on a route that was grades above anything he'd climbed. He ended up one hanging it, and wrung the last of the usefulness out of a shoulder that had been dodgy all trip.
Andy on Dionysos. What to say? On his first shot the other day he climbed almost level to the anchors, so we knew today would be better, and it was. He put in several shots and fell at the anchors each time. On his best burn, he climbed PAST the anchors and still couldn't clip! I thought he was going to top out Odyssey and walk off the back. Well, that's about as close as you can come to sending, and yet not. 100% Andy!
Caught from Andy? Who knows? But falling from the top was a theme of the day and Dave loves carrying on a theme. He did with his burns on Itaca. It's a bloody burly route that spits climbers off the top time and again. On one burn he touched the victory hold but didn't latch it. Soooo close.
Everyone went down the hill exhausted, knowing they'd done all they could physically do on this trip. That makes me happy - seeing people give their all. The tick is actually not very important, but the process of learning, refining and giving it everything - this is what makes climbing so rewarding for me, and I love sharing this.
So this concludes yet another absolutely terrific camp here on Kalymnos. Even though the group came together with extremely varied experience and backgrounds in climbing, they were able to throw all of this in the melting pot and come out the other side with stacks of new learnings and motivations to train and progress their climbing when they return home.
And Kalymnos herself, well, she's gained yet more devotees, with talk of moving here, building houses, or at least being back on the next Upskill Camp.
Thanks for reading. This is the last post chronicling the progress of our Kalymnos Climbing Camps for 2010.
Now resuming your regular Upskill programming in 3...2...1...