Formed by deposition

Poseidon - God of the sea!

The Grande Grotta.
“They come from drips” the Kalymnian shepherd blurted to me as he pointed skyward to the ice cycle like stalactites hanging in random order on the underside of the Grande Grotta. He cracked a wry smile revealing shinny white teeth that seemed out of place with his tattered clothes and bronzed leathery skin. The man appeared to want to talk so I sat next to him and listened as he told stories about old Kalymnian sponge divers and a bit of island history.

Kalymnos is believed to have been inhabited since the Neolithic period. The island is mostly barren and mountainous; harboring two small valleys full of citrus groves and plentiful aromatic plants, such as thyme, sage and oregano to which the excellent Kalymnos honey owes its fragrance. Scattered about the landscape are loads of ancient rock walls and the crumbling remains of castles leftover from the reign of the Cretans, Persians, Romans and the Genoese, the latter being largely responsible for the larger, more significant castles; Alexander the Great fought and won battles along the rocky shore.

Sea sponges.

 In my opinion the most fascinating historical characteristic of this island and the greater Dodecanese is the sponge fishing; this area was once considered the sponge capital of the world and fishing for sponges (yes they are in fact animals not plants) began here around 700bc. The Shepard man spoke of his grandfather the sponge diver, he would plunge into the water naked and unaided, all he had with him was a net in which to collect sponges and a heavy, flat stone called a skandalopetra attached by rope to the boat above. Relying purely on a lungful of air and raw courage, he thought nothing of plunging to depths of up to 30 meters. The invention of the bronze-helmeted diving suit or skafandr in the mid-19th century enabled men to gather sponges from much greater depths – but at a terrible cost. Tragically, the dangers of surfacing too quickly were not realized until countless divers had already died or been paralyzed as a result of the bends or decompression sickness. Sponge collecting in the Dodecanese has since plummeted, partially due to the introduction of synthetic sponges but largely due to some type of blight that almost wiped out the sea sponges of the Aegean.

Do you like crowds? If not maybe skip the Kalymnos trip, this ia a typical day at Arhi.

Don't be cheap, find the good scooters and pay for the insurance!

Jessa Goebel riding the "Priapos" (7c) during her flash of probably one of the better pitches around,
while wearing the Sajama Pant and Evolv Predator G2 shoes.

Jen Larvarda aka "Red Bull" on Rendez with Platon (8b)
 Glancing down from where the Shepard sat I noticed a glorious pile of used toilet paper garnishing a years worth human excrement. The Shepard must have sensed my distain because he kicked some rocks at the pile and cursed something about pulling t.p. from a goat’s mouth. It’s pretty disgusting actually, why can’t people crap at home before they go to the crag, or at the very least pack out the spent wipes? And while I’m on a rant WTF is up with the Euro belay? No it is not cool to put a jacket on while
your boyfriend is at “rest" yeah I know you have a Grigri, but rock breaks…duh. I know I’m not the only person that has noticed the rapid increase of climbing accidents – on Kalymnos alone accidents have more than doubled this year; lowering off the end of the rope, ground falls from bad belay technique and anchor failures have mostly been to blame. In fact I even had a climber arguing my sentiments for safety. Please be carful folks! 

Jessa Goebel giving the super classic Amores Perros (7c+) another go.

                                 Eddie Avallone wondering what the hell Fun De Chichunne (8a) means.
At the crux of Valley of the Dolls ext. (8a+).
Curious about the rope we used - Sterling Ion2, trust me, this is THE best rope!

Yummy, our landlords fed us well. Jessa sporting a Nitrous Jkt

The Verm sending Mort (7b).

Now about the climbing; my vision before taking this trip was to NOT get wrapped up in projects, 3 try rule. I really just wanted to get in as many pitches of good climbing as possible, or in other words, have fun! The climbing in Kalymnos is really, really good and lends itself well for onsite climbing – lots of big rests on pretty much every route. Seemed to me the longer routes that rode big stalactites out roofs were quite a bit easier than the grade would imply compared to the shorter, say under 20 meter, climbs. But whatever, definitely the best tuffa wrestling, stalactite rodeo’in I have ever done! Out of the 25 days Jessa and I spent on the island, I sampled around 100 pitches throughout the grade range of 5a-8c and visited 18 different sectors. Fellow Hardwear athlete Neil Gresham put on a fundraiser slide show, it just so happened I had a stack of Mountain Hardwear goodies to add to the raffle - the fundraiser yielded around 800 euros for the bolt fund. Did you donate to the fund while you were in Kalymnos, in fact, have you ever given time or money to any Climbers Coalition? I also managed to wreck a scooter, spent many hours swimming in the Aegean, and made many new friends; always my favorite part of the trip I take.                                                               
                                                                                             
   Flowers at the entrance to a monastery and a painting of Jesus standing over the head of John the Baptist.
Dozens of Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries pepper the landscape. The thick white and blue paint, as well as, the splendid bell towers (like the Agios Ioannis pictured above) give the island great pious charisma.
Marco giving the classic Aegialis (7c) a go.

                               
                                               Jessa Goebel, Orion 7c+, Kalymnos, Greece

                                
                                                 Telendos - multi-pitch limestone in Greece
                                                                                           
Kalymnian delivery truck...mmmm beer.

Just another evening on the porch.

At the bus stop before departure, this was the toughest part of the whole trip!
Want the best luggage? Try the Hardwear Juggernaut or the Expedition-Duffel.

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