Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Scooter wrecks, gyros, and tufas

Russ tackling Priopos in the Grande Grotta. Russ's body makes Zeus look like Mickey Mouse

The annual Weiler summer vacation came early this year with our departure out of the country to the bankrupt capitol of Europe, Greece! Kalymnos is a small island on the very south-eastern border of the Greek islands near Turkey, and though has not been blessed with fertile soil or sandy beaches, does have some of the most wild, fantastic sport climbing in the world. Climbers flock from all over Cape Cod to experience "tufa" climbing, or giant stalactiteish rocks that form inside overhung caves. It truly is some of the best climbing one can imagine.  When you get tired, usually you can just sit down on a tufa for a no hands rests, or finagle some other rest using your head or back!
Trying to milk something with a back/head rest

The trip was organized and put together by James and Kara to who we owe pretty much everything, starting with convincing me to spend a bunch of money ($4000) on a trip with hotels and restaurants instead of a neo-air and ramen to planning and organizing and navigating through unknown terrain. Being extremely nervous myself about traveling abroad, I found it much less stressful traveling with others. We had eight in our group, Annie and I, James and Kara, Nate and Kim, and the two boyfriends, Ryan and Russ(not gay, just the only non-married couple) who we had only met a few times at our local gym prior to the trip. 2 weeks is a ton of time to cover in one blog post, and several folks(myself included) have mentioned how absurd pages and pages of pictures and information can be(ie old people slideshows) so I am going to keep this as brief as possible. Blog posts should be like eating cookie dough, extremely satisfying after one or two scoops, but after too much you never want to see it again.

Annie did a tremendous job taking photos with our camera as I was distracted with pinching tufas. Kim is a professional photographer, and Russ knows a thing or two about cameras, and as soon as I get some of their photos I will post them, but for now, you'll have to deal with Annie's non-photogenic specimen, mainly me.

Getting to Kalymnos requires a blood clotting 10 hour flight to Paris, then a 4 hour flight to Athens, then a 1 hour flight to the island of Kos, then a 30 minute ferry ride to Kalymnos. This ain't red rocks folks. I won't bore you with airport sheinanegains and painful layover jet lag comments, but they occurred.
James sacked out in the Paris airport. He was drooling.

We climbed at a number of different crags, the main one being the area behind our hotel called the Grande Grotta/Panorama area. It is a massive cave with huge tufas hanging all over. We spent 3 days there as there are probably 500 routes within a 30 min walk of our hotel. The best climbs we did were the 12a, 12b, and 11d of DNA, Ivy, and Trela respectively. Ridiculously cool overhanging jugfest tufas climbing. Not a crimp in sight! Swimming in the ocean and hotel pool finished off the days before eating Greek food by the ocean at small restaurants. The food was ok, but I think we all were sick of gyros by the end of the trip.

The spectacular Grande Grotta

James climbing superb 11c

On Sunday I took us to a cool cave. People were upset with me as we only had 2 headlamps

 We spent other days at the secret garden, ghost kitchen, deep water soloing, and Sikati Cave, all which require renting scooters to get to these distant crags. The scooters were fun but dangerous. James and I crashed both of ours within 5 minutes of acquiring them(luckily our wives convinced us to get insurance, smart!) Nate and Kim actually ate it quite hard on a sharp turn and got bad road rash. Nate didn't get insurance and had to fork out 55 euros($70) to fix his. Ryan and Russ went most of the trip with bragging rights, till the last day when Ryan rallied his scooter off a ramp onto the rental deck, catching air in the process and causing random noises to come from the vehicle after landing. No damage was done but we were happy to see the braggart get some of the scooter crash pain.
Self portrait scooter riding. My face looks weird because we are going at least 25 mph

The gang on the scooters

Ryan eating a gyro. He lived off these and gelato. I think he spent $50 on gelato.

Deep water soloing was a blast. The wall was only maybe 30 feet high, but that's high enough for us. Finally, the best crag we saved for last. A 40 minute hike through goat pastures lands you at Sikati Cave, a massive hole in the ground where an underground cavern has collapsed, leaving a spectacular climbing venue with forests of overhanging tufas. Everything is pretty hard in there(.12 and up) so we did our best despite the difficult ratings and being tired. Nevertheless, Morgan, a .12c we did, was the best climb of the trip. Overhanging, 3D tufa humping and straddling for a full 30m with a bolt missing halfway up to give it some flavor, was the classic of the trip. Ryan was the only one who sent, but we all enjoyed it thoroughly.

Nate loving the long, long, long 10a with a dramatic backdrop

Annie on Sparticus, 12c

The deep water solo cave is down left. Random tattered flag on a pole next to annie.

I fell shortly thereafter.

Standing on one tufa at the secret garden

Girl power

Celestial Kingdom. Sikati Cave(giant hole) and your own private beach

Morgan, 12c in Sikati. One my favorite pics. Nice job Annie!
Getting ready for the crux, sitting on a massive tufa

Sikati Beach

Sikati Cave

We spent one day in ghetto, graffiti stricken Athens doing the Acropolis tour which I was not impressed with, but hey, a little history never hurt anybody. (Greek riots however do) Overall we climbed somewhere in the range of 34-40 routes. I managed to onsight a bunch of 11's, a .12a, .12b, and got a .12c my 2nd go with two other .12c's a one hang. Didn't feel like projecting anything too much as there is just too much to climb!

Annie next to something old called the Parthenon

Tour guide Nate trying to get me interested. Not succeeding.
 I could go on and on with pretty funny stories of Ryan filming basically every taxi ride, or after every route saying it was the best route he'd ever done, or how he was going to marry a Greek woman, or Russ asking every waitress what he should get and her responding, "this is nice for you, nice for you", and James harrassing everyone about being late, but hopefully the pictures are a better story.


  1. Loved these pictures and stories. Just make sure to post the other photos as you get them. All of them. K thanks bye.

  2. Great read. Now go have a kid so i am not so jealous

  3. Good trip Spence. You didn't like the freeking old ruins stuff at all? Come on! Kimber and I had a blast! Enjoyed your write-up. I will probably try to do one too soon.