Guidebook: Kalumnos Rock Climbing
17th Oct 2006
I first went to Kalymnos about 6 years ago. Back then there was a fairly basic set of topos you could download from the Internet thanks to an enterprising local called Aris. Aris has pretty much single handedly been responsible for putting the otherwise ordinary Greek island firmly on the world sport climbing map. I was thoroughly impressed with the trip which was largely due to the fact that we were actually able to find our way around what was then a fledgling venue. Since then Aris has worked tirelessly to promote and develop the climbing scene on the island, helping to organise regular Petzl Roc Trips and getting involved with coaching trips with the likes of planetFear. It's no surprise then that his name appears as the author of the latest edition to the Kalymnos guide.
Kalymnos has some very striking rock scenery that is evident in the images throughout the book, but none more so than the intriguing front cover shot of Liv Sansoz literally standing around in a maze of stalactites on Trela in the Grande Grotte. Inside, the photos are less impressive, with just a few standing out from the crowd. There are, however, a plenitude of nice quirky context shots laid out aesthetically to break the pages up and provide a little variety from the, dare I say it, monotonous orange limestone! On the whole the colour photo topos are good enough, but largely because sport climbing requires far less detail and description than trad climbing. One thing that can certainly be said for the guide is the wide range of shots featuring women and kids. Perhaps this is an indication of the fact that it is a good family climbing holiday destination.
Beginning each sector description is a nicely written potted history. The fact that the book is bilingual - English and Greek - is not intrusive at all, the Greek text having been cleverly printed in a lighter colour font, the author realising that Kalymnos is an International destination that sees more 'English' speakers than Greeks.
There are 850 routes and projects at 43 sectors listed in the guide, plenty enough for any number of trips to the sun! There is even a sector described where Deep Water Soloing can be found. One neat feature which I really liked is the index which features a series of tick boxes so that you can record which routes you have climbed and in what style (onsight, flash, 2nd go, red point, hangdog, top rope).
Ask anybody who has visited the island, or even thought about going and they'll no doubt tell you that it isn't a completely straightforward journey from the UK. It involves a combination of planes, boats and taxis. It is a little unfortunate timing that the new Kalymnos airport opened just after the book went to print. However mention is made of the fact that you can now fly from Athens to Kalymnos as part of a fairly comprehensive couple of pages on 'how to get there'. In fact the information section at the beginning of the book is one of the biggest I've ever seen in a guide, comprising 30 pages of English text and covering everything from 'When to Go' to 'Socialising'. No doubt this will come in particularly handy when waiting to catch the plane or on the beach during a rest day.
The guide's format is unusual in that it is about an inch wider and taller than a standard Rockfax guide, not too important for sport climbing as one rarely climbs with the book, but frustrating as I designed my bookshelves too small! It's priced at £27.50 which does seem a little high for a 280 page guide, but it does pack an awful lot in.
Reviewed by Matt Heason on behalf of planetFear