Rock climbing in Kalymnos,
Greece

Rock CLimbing in Kalymnos - Greece (© A. Gatta)
Rock climbing in Kalymnos - Greece (© A. Gatta)


Introduction to Kalymnos

Kalymnos is probably one of the best climbing places on the planet. With 1,700 routes spread out in 65 sectors, the sun, the scenery and the relatively cheap cost of a trip there, you can understand why it is a climber's paradise.

Anna in Sikati Cave (© J. Novak)
Anna in Sikati Cave (© J. Novak)


Location

Kalymnos is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea belonging to the Dodecanese (12 largest Greek islands of Aegean Sea). It is located 12 km North of the Kos island.

Map of Kalymnos

Kalymnos guidebook (© A. Gatta)
Masouri, Kalymnos (© A. Gatta)

Kalymnos (© A. Gatta)
Kalymnos (© A. Gatta)


Getting there

The best option is to fly to Kos, take a taxi to Mastichari port (10 minutes) and then take a boat to Kalymnos.
The transfer from Mastichari port to Pothia (Kalymnos) takes 30 minutes to one hour depending on the type of boat. From Pothia take a taxi to Masouri (30 minutes) which one of the best places to stay.

Once in Masouri, the most convinient - and the funnier - is to rent a scooter.

Spartacus sector, Kalymnos (© P. Gatta)
Spartacus sector, Kalymnos (© P. Gatta)


Weather and best season

The best climbing season is autumn when the weather is often good and the average temperatures are between 24°C (Sep) and 16° (Nov). It is also the busiest months. The second best choice is probably spring where the temperatures vary between 13° and 20° but the chance of rain is a bit higher and some routes may still be seeping. Winter is much cooler, 11 to 13° and rainier. Lastly, the summer is hot, 24 to 27° but the northerly breeze can keep some sectors relatively cool.

No matter the season, it is almost always possible to play around with the cliff orientation, sun exposure and wind to find a sector suitable for climbing. We have been there from end of October to mid-November, the temperatures were pleasant, sometimes a bit hot and we had 4-5 days of rain.

View over Telendos island from Masouri (© P. Gatta)
View over Telendos island from Masouri (© P. Gatta)


Kalymnos guidebook

The Kalymnos Rock Climbing Guidebook by Aris Theodoropoulos is excellent and very well done. Check out climbkalymnos.com for latest updates and information.

Kalymnos guidebook
Kalymnos guidebook

Kalymnos guidebook (© A. Gatta)
Kalymnos guidebook (© A. Gatta)


The different sectors

There are 65 different sectors, around 1,700 routes and these numbers keep growing. Rather than trying to list all sectors, we share below a selection of routes and some comments of the following sectors: Spartacus, Grande Grotta, Panorama, Jurassic Park, Sikati cave, Arhi, Odyssey, Galatiani and Secret Garden.

Philippe on-sight in Fun de Chichunne, 8a, Grande Grotta (© A. Gatta)
Philippe on-sight in Fun de Chichunne, 8a, Grande Grotta (© A. Gatta)


Grande Grotta

Grande Grotta is a really charismatic sector and pictures from this huge cave have been seen all over the world. The cave is 50 meters high and its roof covered with massive tuffas, blobs and stalactites. Climbing there is definitively a unique 3D experience. The routes are very long, 30 to 60 meters and because of the numerous no hand rest, each climb takes forever. There are only 20 routes in the cave but that is way enough to get a massive dose of lactic acid.

Lost if the tuffas of Grande Grotta (© P. Gatta)
Lost if the tuffas of Grande Grotta (© P. Gatta)

The approach is short, 15-20 minutes walk from Masouri. The trail starts close to the Hotel Philoxenia. The cave is facing Southwest and most routes are sheltered from the rain. The flip side is that the cave is often crowded.

Grande Grotta (© P. Gatta)
Grande Grotta (© P. Gatta)

The routes we climbed in Grande Grotta

Grande Grotta, Telendous island on the left (© A. Gatta)
Grande Grotta, Telendous island on the left (© A. Gatta)


Spartacus

Spartacus is a very nice sector just 10 minutes further than Grande Grotta. There are 26 routes there from 18 to 45 meters, in different styles, from technical slabs to steep and powerful climb. The sector is in the shade in the morning and can get very crowded.

Approach: from Masouri follow Grande Grotta trail, then follow a trail to the left pass the sectors of Afternoon and Spartan wall to reach Spartacus. Around 25 minutes walk from Masouri.

Spartacus sector (© P. Gatta)
Spartacus sector (© P. Gatta)

The routes we climbed in Spartacus




Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is a small sector with only 20 routes, many are really good and well worth a few visits. The left wall gets sun in the morning while the right wall remain in the shade a few hours longer. It is a warm place and best when it is a bit windy. The left wall is steep and technical, with crimps and huecos. The right wall is mostly a cave, the routes are often bouldery, overhanging and long.

Approach: same as Spartacus, then continues the trail up, pass a gate and follow the paint on the rock. Around 50 minutes walk from Masouri.

Sunset on Telendos (© P. Gatta)
Sunset on Telendos (© P. Gatta)

The routes we climbed in Jurassic Park




Panorama

Panorama is the large cliff, right of Grande Grotta. There are 3 sectors Panorama left, center and right for a total of 50 routes. The route length varies from 15 to 60 meters with a great variety of styles : boulder, endurance, technical, powerful, tuffas, etc. We have not climbed much there so our selection below is quite short.

Approach: same as Grande Grotta, cross the cave to right where the Panorama starts. Around 25 minutes walk from Masouri.

Right of Grande Grotta and left wall of Panorama (© P. Gatta)
Right of Grande Grotta and left wall of Panorama (© P. Gatta)

The routes we climbed in Panorama




Secret Garden

Secret Garden is recent sector that became so popular that many routes are already polished before even being in the guidebook. There are around 50 routes from 15 to 40 meters with again a lot of variety. To be honest I heard so much about Secret Garden before going there that I got somewhat disappointed. I found the routes very polished, the cliff is very busy and the rock is quite fragile. Netherless, Secret Garden is worth a day or two but come early.

Approach: see the detailed approach on the guidebook. Count around 30 minutes with scooter from Masouri plus 25 minutes walk.

Secret Garden (© A. Gatta)
Secret Garden (© A. Gatta)

The routes we climbed in Secret Garden




Galatiani - Calcite Cave

Galatiani is another nice small sector of Kalymnos. The Calcite cave has 27 routes, mostly steep, long filled up with tuffas and stalactites. The 8's are very long and require a lot of endurance. The cave is facing South and can be very warm except on breezy day.

Trying to read the route, Galatiani (© A. Gatta)
Trying to read the route, Galatiani (© A. Gatta)

Approach: see the detailed approach in the guidebook. Count around 20 minutes in scooter and 40 minutes walk.

The Calcite Cave of Galatiani is in the upper center of the photo (© P. Gatta)
The Calcite Cave of Galatiani is in the upper center of the photo (© P. Gatta)

The routes we climbed in Galatiani

The cave of Galatiani. Debout les morts, 8a is just left of the black stain (© P. Gatta)
The cave of Galatiani. Debout les morts, 8a is just left of the black stain (© P. Gatta)


Sikati cave

Sikati Cave is, in our opinion, by far the most amazing sector of Kalymnos. This is not just another cave, it is special. In fact, it is a massive hole in the ground - 50 meters of diameter and 70 meters high - like if a comet had crashed there. The atmosphere is unique, especially early in the morning when nobody is there and we just hear the birds.

The climbers (at the bottom in blue) gives the scale of the Sikati cave (© A. Gatta)
The climbers (at the bottom in blue) gives the scale of the Sikati cave (© A. Gatta)

What about the routes then?
Well, they are long, overhanging, full of tuffas, blobs and stalactites. There are 33 routes, many of world class, which is enough for a few days.

Anna on-sighting Mort aux chevres (7b) in Sikati cave (© J. Novak)
Anna on-sighting Mort aux chevres (7b) in Sikati cave (© J. Novak)

Approach: see the detailed approach on the guidebook. Count around 25 minutes with scooter from Masouri and 40 minutes walk.

The big hole in the ground is Sikati cave (© A. Gatta)
The "big hole" in the ground is Sikati cave (© A. Gatta)

The routes we climbed in Sikati cave

Philippe on-sighting Adam, 7c+. Sikati cave (© J. Novak)
Philippe on-sighting Adam, 7c+. Sikati cave (© J. Novak)




Arhi - Troulos

Arhi was the first sector of Kalymnos and with over 90 routes one of the largest on the island. There are all types of climbing, grades and lengths. Combine that with a short approach a South exposure and great view over the sea and you will understand why it is often crowed and the routes polished. We only climbed a half day in the Troulos cave and left at noon in a desperate search of shade.

The sectors of Arhi: Far left, Left, Troulos, Chapi, Right and Balcony Helvetia (© P. Gatta)
The sectors of Arhi: Far left, Left, Troulos, Chapi, Right and Balcony Helvetia (© P. Gatta)

Approach: around 15 minutes with scooter from Masouri and 10 minutes walk, more for the upper sectors.

The sector of Arhi - Troulos (© P. Gatta)
The sector of Arhi - Troulos (© P. Gatta)

The routes we climbed in Arhi - Troulos

We basically fried before the end of the warm-up so the list is short: Thetis (6b), Il pittore (6b+), Kastor (7a), they are all nice.

Sectors between Skalia and Arginonta: Ghost Kitchen, Cave, Galatiani, Black Forest, Noufaro, Belgian chocolates, Arhi and Sea Breeze (© P. Gatta)
Sectors between Skalia and Arginonta: Ghost Kitchen, Cave, Galatiani, Black Forest, Noufaro, Belgian chocolates, Arhi and Sea Breeze (© P. Gatta)


Odyssey

Odyssey is another amazing sector of Kalymnos. There 80+ routes, different style, all grades, perfect rock, short approach... We can't ask for more.

Odyssey sectors: Feta Wall, Orion Wall, Marci Marc Cave, Imia Wall, Itaca Wall and Atena Wall (© P. Gatta)
Odyssey sectors: Feta Wall, Orion Wall, Marci Marc Cave, Imia Wall, Itaca Wall and Atena Wall (© P. Gatta)

Approach: around 5 minutes with scooter from Masouri and less than 10 minutes walk.

Anna in Island in the sun, 7a+, Odyssey (© L. Nilan)
Anna in Island in the sun, 7a+, Odyssey (© L. Nilan)

The routes we climbed in Odyssey

We climbed Odyssey - Imia Wall only for a few hours so unfortunately we have a short list of suggestions. We enjoyed the routes Imia Wall as they are very differents from the other sectors. No knee-bars and endless rests, here the routes are shorter and powerful.

Odyssey (© P. Gatta)
Odyssey (© P. Gatta)


Conclusions

We climbed 55 routes over a two weeks trip, roughly 3% of the routes in Kalymnos!
The potential is massive, the quality and variety of the routes is exceptional, the access, villages, people is amazing too. Kalymnos reputation is well deserved and we definitely have to go back.

Scooter master or climbing master? Anna on the way back from Arhi (© P. Gatta)
Scooter master or climbing master? Anna on the way back from Arhi (© P. Gatta)


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