After countless recommendations from climbing friends, for my birthday this year I decided to pay my first visit to the Greek island of Kalymnos, for a spot of sport climbing.
We traveled on my actual birthday, myself, my partner David, and friends Cat Gallagher and Serena Lambre. Cat bought us a bottle of champagne and celebrations started on the plane.
We didn’t get to Kalymnos until very late that night but still managed to find a nice and friendly restaurant for some dinner and more drinks at 11.30pm.
For the reasons above, climbing the next day started considerably later than normal. After a charged up breakfast at Sofrano cafe, we made our way up to the crag of Iliada and straight away I spotted this beautiful line on the roof of this cave. It looked harder than anything else I have ever tried, but too tasty to ignore. It was Dolonas, 7b+! Yes, of course totally out of my league but I thought I would have a go anyway. So after warming up on a few routes, including Ekavi 6a and Beautiful Helen 6a+, I managed to convince Cat to try Dolonas with me. We had a lot of fun with it but got totally shut down at the crux, trying every single way we could possibly think of. As much as we wanted to avoid it, we had a feeling it would only go with a dyno. Too tired to carry on we decided to retire to the hotel and look for a video of someone else doing it online. Cat also texted Neil Gresham, who’s done the first ascent of the extension on that route, Valley of the Dolls 8a+. Both, video and Neil, confirmed we had to commit for the dyno on a sloper. And for some sick, masochistic reason we decided to go back next day. 🙂
We went back next morning and on my first go I committed with all my might to that move just to hit my forearm against the roof and come flying back down. My most spectacular lob to date! After a few tries, Cat managed to grab something but failed to stick to it. Using her beta, I went for the same place and only found green slime. After a few more unsuccessful tries we decided to cut our losses and made our way down to the little beach near the hotel for a dip in the sea. Water at this time of the year was way too cold for Brazilian me, but the weather was so hot it felt good to cool down.
That night we visited the Climber’s Nest Bar. A hub for all the climbers on the island. They play good music and sell very nice cocktails. We had a great night but got too carried away with the cocktails and as expected, climbing the next day was hard work!
We hired mopeds to go to Arginonta. I’ve never driven one before and finding myself in charge of one with a horrible hangover was terrifying! But after a while (and a strong cup of coffee) everything was all right and I loved my moped!
Arginonta that day was comical. I think I felt the worst of all of us. Messing up on everything I went up on. The others were entertained. I promised myself not to drink for the rest of this holiday. Cat, however, was feeling a little fresher and wanted to try this 7a called Red Sea Secrets, she had 2 goes on red point and I only managed one. We decided to go back another day.
In Arhi, near Arginonta, I flashed this beautiful 6b called Thetis, my best introduction to tufa climbing, and accumulated more projects, such as Kastor 7a and Barbara 7a+. That day we met, Emilie Pellerin, this amazing Canadian climber who for the last 5 years has been traveling to follow her passion for climbing. It was great to watch her gracefully knee barring her way through routes such as classic Eros, 7b+.
Next day, we went back to Arginonta for Red Sea Secrets and on my second go I managed to do my 1st 7a! And to celebrate we all went to Katerina’s restaurant around the corner for the best dolmades on the island and some Mythos beer (yes, I couldn’t keep my promise). We still had time for a quick visit to Sea Breeze on the way back.
We had half day for climbing on our last day, so I went to check out this route Cat had been talking about for ages. She was sure I would like it. The route was Leah Crane’s Jellyfish Pie 7a+.
I had a go on it and I loved it. Unfortunately, I only had time for that one go but I left with it in mind and I would have to go back to it!
I haven’t done any outdoor sport climbing for at least 2 years before my Kalymnos trip. With the birth of my son I found myself doing more bouldering and single-pitch trad. I fell in love with Kalymnos and sport climbing all over again and couldn’t bare the thought of waiting all the way until October to be back on the island when I remembered that a few weeks back Gaz Parry told me a place had become available on his and Adrian Berry’s Positive Climbing coaching holiday in May. I got in touch with them and that was it. I was going back to Kaly in less than a month’s time and was so excited!
After just over a week in the UK, myself, David and our little Louis were on the road, this time for Easter in Fontainebleau for some family fun. The weather was mostly rubbish but it was great to spend time with the boys and some lovely friends, Cat, Tom, Barny, Danny and Kook. We shared a very nice gite (great find by the travel agent in the group, Cat) and took turns on who cooked each night. Tasty food, great wine and brilliant company. It ended up being more of a rest week than circuit training (as previously planed) for Kalymnos in May!
Back to the UK I’d normally be upset at the end of my holiday but this time I was super psyched as VauxWall would be opening that week and we had 4 days of staff training and marketing shoots. Even Louis took part in the shoots, showing off his climbing skills!
Vauxwall is London’s newest dedicated bouldering gym, and I’m one of their Duty Managers. I must say, I’m really enjoying my time there and the great challenge of being there from the start. I love the wall and my team!
After its opening I had to leave Vauxwall for a week to be back in Kalymnos.
It was 5 days of intensive climbing and super steep approaches (if you know Kalymnos, you know what I mean! – Grande Grotta approach? Argh!!!!). I was the only girl in a group of 9. It was, let’s say, educational. And on numerous occasions I thought about writing another one of those articles about the problems of female climbers in a ‘men’s world’. I did love my time with the boys though and made some good friends who I’ll definitely stay in touch with.
I came back from this trip a more mature and stronger climber. Adrian and Gaz were amazing at pushing me to my limits and spotting my weaknesses and advising me on how to work on them. My highlights were Ixion 7a, in Kalydna, down on the 2nd go, and my battle with Jellyfish Pie, where I managed to do all the hard moves to fail at the ‘easy’ end! Learned to redpoint properly (and to be more patient) the hard way :-/.
I’ll be back in October, but for the time being I think I’ll be all right enjoying the lovely British summer. Dorset, here I go!