The Monkey Tracker

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kalymnos Island! Goats, Kaly King and Tufas!

After a quick flight from Athens we landed at the tiny airport of Kalymnos! 

It's built precariously on the top of a mountain and the runway seemed to drop away straight over a cliff... not much flat ground over here, just the way the monkeys like it! Kalymnos is one of the biggest and best climbing destinations in the world at the moment.

There are over 1700 climbs to choose from with a couple of hundred new ones going up every year, the amount of quality rock here is unbelievable. The limestone here has amazing features like tufas, stalactites and pockets that allow climbing on outrageously overhanging terrain. In any other place the spectacular large caves would probably be highly protected national treasures. Thankfully no one on this little Greek island seems to care and all the locals are highly supportive of our ridiculous pursuits.


Kalymnos was once famous for its divers who would collect sea sponges, but since the 80s this industry has been in decline and tourism has taken over. Climbing tourism especially is the big thing at the moment and Kaly is extremely well set up for climbers. We checked in to Vourous Palace, a hotel run by Stavro, a Mafia like character also in charge of a nice Italian restaraunt. He had a cute niece working at the restaraunt, but it seemed best to stay away or we might have been swimming with the sponges with a pair of concrete boots...

On our first day of climbing we visited the spectacular Grande Grotta. This was the biggest and most featured cave we had ever seen, the rock seemed to drip with huge stalactites everywhere.

Over the next few days we ticked classics like DNA, Cyclops and Rastapopolous Extension. It became clear very quickly that this was the best sport climbing all year and three weeks would not be enough!

One afternoon We went on a recon mission to check out all the studios in the area and after a few hours found a new place to stay. This place had it all, a spacious room, ocean views, wifi, and a crazy Greek family yelling and fighting all the time across the courtyard. Highly entertaining.

All the way along the main street of Massouri there are minimarts but the only one for us was run by the wise and insightful Antonis. We were loyal customers and With every purchase you would get a little Antonis wisdom, or a story about his crazy past life of travelling. He would also give us gifts like weird herbs for cooking.


All the ladies in the street took a real liking to Steve, must be the Greek look:


Saki's never sleeps

On the 17th September we waited in anticipation for the arrival of the Kaly King and Queen, Lee & Sam Cujes!



They are practically royalty around here, having stayed for several months at a time over the years, everyone seems to know them! We have been close friends with Lee & Sam since our infamous Vietnam trip in 2009 and they have given us so much inspiration and advice over the years! It was great to catch up and climb together again.

Sam utilised our rope bag as a jumper:

Welcome to Lee's office:

Lee and Sam run climbing camps to all sorts of glorious locations around the world, including Kaly. These camps are for anyone with any climbing level or experinece so if your interested in going to Kaly, learning to climb and recieving some world class coaching check out Lee and Sam's website:

This is Lee in action shooting some media of his clients:

Lee also brought with him some highly prized Upskill kneebar pads for Steve & Beric, we soon discovered that these are essential for climbing at Kaly. They allow you to rest, hands free, in crazy positions and make the steep climbing so much easier! Essentially you jam your knee under a rock feature and without pads this can seriously hurt.

Beric managed to actually get a kneebar for EVERY single bolt clip on the classic climb Ivi (7a+), Needless to say this made the climb a piece of cake. Kneebar arousal shots:

There's more photos here if that wasn't enough for you:

The kneebar pads come highly recommended for a trip to Kaly, Thailand or anywhere else with steep featured rock! Seriously, if you want to climb harder and better you MUST get a pair of these babies!! Check them out here:

FYI is Lee's Queensland online climbing store and is the place to go if you need climbing gear.

Another extremely useful item Lee stocks is the CU belay glasses. We bought a pair of these and they have been brilliant. We highly recommend them if you do alot of climbing. They are a prism lense that allows you to fully watch your climber as you belay whilst looking straight ahead. These glasses will not only save your neck from being wrecked and sore, but will also allow you to belay more safely as you can comfortable and attentively watch your climber the whole time. Check it:

Lee & Sam took us on an adventure to check out the areas Illiada and The Beach. At the start of the track down to the beach we encountered the "goatmobile." We were sure a bunch of no good punk ass teenage goats were responsible for trashing this car and joy riding here...



Down at the beach Beric found a perfectly good pair of thongs amongst the trash. Free thongs dammit!! He's been wearing em ever since..

Our dinner most nights was the famous 2 Euro Gyroow (Beric) / Yiro (steve). Beric's Aussie accent sometimes makes European words virtually unrecognisable. These Gyroow's had it all, pork or chicken, salad, tzaziki all wrapped in a pita and with a side of chips. Now tell me thats not a proper meal.

This was the cheapest and best dinner we had found all year, perfect dirtbag climber food! We became well known at our favourite Yiro shop, the record was seven nights in a row. The other competition is the 'spookeye man'. This guy had very red eyes and a crazy limp. Real spookeye like.

old spookeye on the right..
Now we must admit, while Sam and Lee were around we did splurge out and get some restaurant meals, but no entrees.

The island is rocky, barren and harsh and most animals would struggle to survive. One is far superior though and highly adapted to the conditions.

Goats rule this island, just like the bears of Yosemite. At the crag one big old goat would constantly harass climbers for food and became highly agitated when challenged. You would turn your back and then suddenly the goat would appear standing still in amongst the packs and climbers. Trying to blend in or something. It became clear that we would need to come to some sort of agreement with this goat. See the video below for the result...

Here's some photos of old Topdeck the goat. Topdeck thought we couldn't see him. Cleverly hiding behind that rock. 


Everytime you turned your back he would edge closer and closer then stand still. Well I got news for you Topdeck, your not fooling anyone.

Silly Topdeck
I (Steve) disappeared  on a side mission to the little island of Kastellorizo, a 10 hour ferry ride from Kalymnos. My great grandparents were from this island which is about as far from the Greek mainland as you can go and only a few kilometers from Turkey. My lovely relatives Nick and Vasilo have a house there and I was lucky enough to stay with them for a few days. Thanks for the hospitality and I hope to see you again soon! I spent my time learning about the history of the island and exploring the hills and rugged coastline. I also scoped some potential undeveloped climbing of course... I'm sure I'll be back soon to explore further!

While Steve was gone, I (Beric) hung out with Sam and Lee. We had a glee old time.

Lee took us on a wild goose chase to find a new secret climbing crag called the 'secret garden'. Sam and I faithfully followed Lee into the inhabitable baron hills.. 

This was the first tree I saw on Kaly, well I think it was a tree:

Our mission payed off. We found the secret crag. The climbing was good but "no comment, "judge for yourself"..

Lee got excited and started soloing in his sand shoes..

We came back of course and climbed the crap out of the place!

The Throne

Lee, Sam and I also chilled out at Pirates beach sipping frappes. Lee has been surviving off triple frappe bypasses for many years now.. Arrghgghhgh caffeine! sugar!

Simon Jeppo the Rooster

Woooo! Scooter gangs!!!

That night we were also treated to the annual street party. There was free traditional Greek food and dancing. Now I'm no Chris Brown, but I gave it a go. It's a shame that Steve wasn't there as they train these Stevens to Greek dance at a young age in the Townsville community. My gorgeous friend Thailia was stopping cars on the street with her moves.

On our 3rd last climbing day we went to Odyssey and had a crack at Polifemo (7c / 27). There were some kick ass American's climbing there named Kevin, Tom and Jaima. We hope to meet up with you all in the USA soon!

Tomi gun

Tomi gun


These guy's have been causing us problems for years..
Our Queensland climbing friend Danny gettin some kneebar action:

 On our second last day we went the Grande Grotta, back where it all began. We were both thrashed after climbing extreme overhangs for 3 weeks straight, yet Steve somehow managed a personal best send with a flash of Priapos (7c / 27)


Our final morning before flying out was meant to be a much needed rest day... but about 10 minutes after waking up Beric cracked and convinced Steve to slog up the hill one last time. Unfinished business you see. Beric sent Ivi (7a+/24) which went down quickly with at least 8 Kneebars thrown in for good measure:

Even though we were in Kaly for 3 weeks, it wasn't until the last couple of days we decided to do some filming. In a crazy last minute frenzy, we managed to capture some media of the madness... With Nomad's location still completely unknown we only had the two of us. This makes filming very difficult as you need 3 people i.e someone to climb, belay the climber and film the footage. So we set up some dodgy tripods with duct tape, infact the climbing seen at the secret garden was done purely using this method. Danny and our American friends also lent a hand belaying for Polifemo and Priapos. Thanks fellow climbers! So here it is, the highly anticipated Kaly movie:

Kalymnos Island Movie


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  2. haha I think we can come to sooome sooort of aagreeeement my friend!