SPORT CLIMBING IN GREECE: BOLTS WITH A SIDE OF GOAT POOP

It may be snowing in the Sierra, but that didn’t keep TMS Ambassador Rachel McCullough from heading to warmer climes to climb

Rachel McCullough is an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Who: Rachel McCullough, Garrett
What: Rock climbing
Where: Kalymnos Island, Greece
When: November 2015
Sunset view of Telendos. This island got separated from the island of Kalymnos following an earthquake hundreds of years ago.

Sunset view of Telendos. This island got separated from the island of Kalymnos following an earthquake hundreds of years ago.

I was at the top of my warm-up route and enjoying the view. The view of poop. Right next to my fingers, 60 feet off the ground on a near vertical wall. These goats really don’t specialize in making you feel good about lugging around a bunch of heavy climbing gear halfway across the world and jumping on your first route. I did learn quickly. Check holds for poop before committing.
We were climbing on limestone, which is very different than the Tahoe and Yosemite granite I am used to.
Can you find me? I am about halfway up the photo in turquoise.

Can you find me? I am about halfway up the photo in turquoise.

Instead of smooth cracks, I found sharp and jagged slots, nice pockets formed by water drops, no fall zone cheese grater slabs and these strange broccoli-head type features that seemed glued onto the rock. Then there were the million holds but no holds. At least that’s what I called them. The water eroded away much of the surface leaving small features sticking out everywhere. But they all seemed just a little too small for your hands or feet, making it hard to figure out which, if any, would be secure enough to use.

The nice thing about arriving in Greece in November from Tahoe is that it is warm. Like 70 degrees and humid warm, which might actually be considered too warm for someone with Tahoe blood. I sported t-shirts, while the mostly European crowd dressed in puffy jackets. Not just a light layer, but the really big puffy jackets with hoods. The kind of jacket I might consider for a trip to the Arctic.

Enjoying the warm weather on a hike.

Enjoying the warm weather on a hike.

Kalymnos is known for its well-protected sport climbing.  Most crags have amazing views of the Aegean Sea. And I guess they have seen too many tourists mistakenly climb the wrong route, since the name and sometimes grade of each route is written on the rock right at the bottom of the route.

Most people got around on motorbikes, but in true form, we walked everywhere. It made us feel like we were at home and just like in Truckee, people seemed uncomfortable with the fact that we didn’t have motorized transport (or maybe we just looked completely worked), so we were offered rides by locals and tourists alike. We didn’t want to seem weak though, so we held out until the last day when the sun went down during our final mile back to our place.

Here’s a photo tour of our adventure.

View from the base of one of the crags.

View from the base of one of the crags.

I am going to wreck this cool photo for everyone. I am about 10 feet off the ground and not even on belay. Some days there weren't any other climbers at the crags, so we had to get creative with picture taking.

I am going to wreck this cool photo for everyone. I am about 10 feet off the ground and not even on belay. Some days there weren’t any other climbers at the crags, so we had to get creative with picture taking.

These lovely goats left "presents" for us on the slabby climbs. Sometimes they also try to knock rocks down from the top of cliffs onto climbers below.

These lovely goats left “presents” for us on the slabby climbs. Sometimes they also try to knock rocks down from the top of cliffs onto climbers below.

This used to be an underground cave. It collapsed a long time ago and now has lots of "3D" climbing on tufas and stalactites.

This used to be an underground cave. It collapsed a long time ago and now has lots of “3D” climbing on tufas and stalactites.

View from our apartment. This is what we woke up to every morning. No complaints!

View from our apartment. This is what we woke up to every morning. No complaints!

A little too cold for a beach day, but gorgeous nonetheless.

A little too cold for a beach day, but gorgeous nonetheless.

Got a stiff neck from looking up at your belayer? Just turn around and look at this instead!

Got a stiff neck from looking up at your belayer? Just turn around and look at this instead!

Acropolis and the Parthenon. This whole place was undergoing restoration and there is scaffolding everywhere. At first I thought we just had bad timing, but this has been going on for about 30 years.

Acropolis and the Parthenon. This whole place was undergoing restoration and there is scaffolding everywhere. At first I thought we just had bad timing, but this has been going on for about 30 years.

Somehow I got a photo without scaffolding or other tourists. Actually I know how. Get jet-lagged and be the first one there at dawn. You'll have enough time for one photo like this before the crowds descend on the place.

Somehow I got a photo without scaffolding or other tourists. Actually I know how. Get jet-lagged and be the first one there at dawn. You’ll have enough time for one photo like this before the crowds descend on the place.

The original Olympic Stadium for the 1896 Olympics in Athens. The seats are all marble and the adjacent museum is filled with Olympic torches.

The original Olympic Stadium for the 1896 Olympics in Athens. The seats are all marble and the adjacent museum is filled with Olympic torches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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