Paolo Sartori Explores The Climbing Mecca | Part 1
For any rock climber, Kalymnos represents a place of immense power. It’s a small island between Greece and Turkey that was completely unknown until the early 2000s. When climbers then opened the first routes on the island and discovered it’s incredible potential for rock climbing. Since then the island became a true climbing mecca, a place that a climber must visit at least once in their lifetime.
So when the team at Vertical Sailing Tour and LifeProof asked me if I was available to join them for a week in Kalymnos, living on a sailboat and climbing, I jumped at the opportunity and started counting down the days before my trip. Check out part one of my full run down of my seven day adventure.
As soon as we landed in Kos, the nearest airport to Kalymnos, we realised how important climbing was to the culture and local economy. Almost 90% of people from our flight were climbers, I could overhear the excitement as they looked through maps of the routes and planned out their journeys. At the baggage claim we found so many backpacks loaded with ropes and climbing shoes, it was surreal!
As we arrived at the harbour we finally met the crew for the week. Lorenzo – our skipper, Alberto and Riccardo – our mountain guides, Federica, Lena and myself. We were all pumped to get going and tackle the days ahead. Tonight we prepped our gear and chatted through the plans for the days, I could feel the excitement setting in.
Essential Hiking Gear
The beginning of the day didn’t go as planned, but things can happen and we understood. In this case we had some technical problems with the boat so we had to wait for the team to fix them before setting sail. We managed to get things sorted quickly and we were on the water by mid-day.
As we went out in the sea, everyone started to feel the peace and serenity of the location, we sat there with no engine, just sailing with the power of the wind.
Within a few hours we saw Kalymnos rise on our horizon, the sight was breath-taking and one of my favourite moments of the tour.
The view as Paolo and team arrived on Kalymnos
We woke up early since we had to sail a bit to reach the crags. It was like a dream to wake up and jump directly into the calm water before having breakfast.
We headed to Grande Grotta today, probably one of the most iconic crags in the world. Featuring a huge roof overlooking the island Telendos, the team were astonished with the views we were presented with as we landed. When we arrived at the crag we began climbing more and more, the feeling was amazing. The rock was perfect, the place is incredible and the crew worked so well together.
Federica, being the most accomplished climber of the group managed to onsight an 8a (for non-climbers, onsighting means climbing a route on the very first try without falling and without having tried the wall before). It took every bit of her energy as she scaled the wall. This crag features a 40 metre high roof and it took her more than an hour to get to the top, pushing herself to the absolute limits to make the climb, there was no chance Federica would give up. As she completed the crag we screamed so much that probably every climber in the island heard us!
“The only limits we have are made in our minds. I am inspired by people who give everything to follow their dreams.”
Federica Mingolla after climbing the Grand Grotto
Stay tuned for my second blog where I run through the exciting last four days of the trip where we travel to Telendos and uncover some secret climbing locations.
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