Usually when I go on climbing trips I go somewhere good conditions can be found.
This years Kalymnos trip was different. Tobias was turning 30 and he had chosen Kalymnos at the start of october as the site for his celebration.
"Random shot of some of the Kalymnian crags"
Bored with constant rain and indoor climbing I decided to go a bit early.
This brought me to Greece around the 20-th of September when it´s still way to hot for my comfort.
On top of that it was an unusually warm year, the temps between 25-35 degrees in the shade and of course the wind mostly absent.
The first week or so I climbed with Jarle Haugan and Christer Marqvardsen Amundsen. As I found myself struggling on the warm ups, I ended up spending just as much time in the bar and at the beach as the crag, resulting in a great tan and a short tick list.
"Chilling after the crux, just below where I slipped off on the on-sight attempt, on the 7c+ at Cave.."
"Christer feeling the power of the protein shake"
"Jarle once again winning our game of darts down at the Scorpion Bar"
"Beer a clock at 11 in the morning after one of the many long nights down at the Scorpion Bar"
When not hungover or climbing I also found some time to walk around, tourist style, and take random pictures.
"Some random car"
"The snake guarding the path to the E.T Cave"
A week later the Sogndal crew arrived, the North Face festival started and we finally got a few chillier days, if chilly still can be used when it´s 25 degrees++...
"Solveig chilling at the hotel" "Ole and Anders slowly going somewhere"
The North Face competition wall was unfortunately a bad joke and the closest I ever got to see the "pro´s" compete was from the road below.
Not saying that the wall it self isn´t good, (I never went up so I don´t know) but with a 45 min uphill approach combined with the sun hitting the wall before 10 in the morning, I can´t comprehend what sort of climber would think this wall would be good for hosting a comp at the end of september…
"The comp wall all the way in the back, the sun already creeping in at 9-ish in the morning"
So, basically ignoring the festival, Lars Ole and I ended up driving around to the shady side of the island and the new crag E.T Cave instead.
Located reasonably high and without a horribly long approach, E.T attracts wind from several directions, making it one of the best "summer" crags on the island.
The cave only has a few routes that, except for the one 7b+ and a project, all are in the 8a-8b range.
Leaving the sun walls, we ended up spending several days here, giving me the opportunity to fuck up several times and still get to send Tyrant (8a+), one of the best and most complete routes I have done to date.
"Starting to get pumped and another crux to go"
For his birthday Tobias had organised for a big trip to the Sikati Cave by boat.
Far out on the backside of the island, this one of a kind massive hole in the ground was the site of the Petzl rocktrip in 2006 and hosts some of the longest single pitch sportsroutes in the world.
"The Sikati cave seen from the boat"
Psyched on one of these massive routes, Lars Ole and I went over a few days early to abseil down the 75m long monster Morgan Adam est une Andalouse (8b).
There was little chalk, far between the bolts and just figuring out where the line went, clean the holds and put on our (specially bought for the occasion) one meter draws was a massive undertaking.
Wanting to get a feel for the route I volunteered to go down and do the work while Lars, clearly relieved, ended up watching and half sleeping down in the cave.
The route basically breaks down into 3 parts.
- Part one is a popular (good chance of having to stand in line) steep 7b+ into a short even steeper 7c+ extension to about the 25-30 meter mark.
- Part two is a massive jungle of huge 10-15 meter long stalactites, a funky almost vertical dihedral between some big tufas before ending in a good rest sitting awkwardly on a tufa mushroom.
- Part three is about 10 moves of steep climbing, a "hard" boulder problem, before another 10 meters of easier but seriously runout (basically no more bolts) climbing to the chains.
"The route follows the overhang from the left corner up to the big stalactite, straight up between the black tufas and ending about a cm left (in the picture...) from where I´m standing" ©Lars Verket
About 65 meters up, just the weight off the rope will be several kilo´s not counting the ropedrag and you are faced with what for me is the by far hardest single move on the whole route.
The boulder consist of a big move from a undercling to a small crumbly crimp followed by a tricky mantle.
Not too worried about the mantling, it would all come down to this one move from the undercling to the crimp.
A rest day later and we where on the boats heading back to the cave. The weather was once again uncomfortably hot and the wind was as usual nowhere to be found.
"The 40+ minutes boat ride bringing out some boy on boy Titanic action"
I must admit I was not feeling very optimistic as I was walking up from the beach, when I then slipped off the move from the undercling several times on the warm up, (we rappelled down) I was almost ready to give up.
Lars however nervous, stayed psyched, and with loads of friends and several photographers watching, we where committed, the time had come to go big or go home.
Lars had onsighted the 7c+ a few years ago, not tried the middle at all and top-roped the last 15 meters for the first time today.
I had tried the moves, hanging in the grigri, from the top down to the 7c+ in sneakers while cleaning the holds + top-rope tested the final crux with climbing shoes today.
Since I had done the work cleaning and fixing draws Lars had decided that I should choose who would go first.
With out proper beta on the first part and not feeling ready at all, I let Lars go first, completely forgetting that I would have to clean the draws if he where to succeed.
About one hour later he entered the crux, screaming and pulling his way through before mantling in to safety.
"Lars Ole somewhere on the 7b+ part, 60-ish meters to go" ©Lars Verket
Now, feeling even less ready, it was my time to shine.
Still way to warm for my comfort there was only two hours to go before the boat left, leaving me with little choice but to go for it.
I brought a t-shirt to wipe off the sweat and tried to focus on one short section at a time.
After about 10 meters I was literally dripping and already struggling to flash the 7b+ part. Luckily it got better and the 7c+ extension felt surprisingly easy.
To give myself some incentive to get to the final rest below the crux, I had stashed a can of coke and a chocolate bar in a plastic bag there in the morning. (the bag up to my right in the picture below)
Feeling totally dehydrated, this was all I could think about after having pulled the rope through in the stalactite jungle and so, before I knew what had just happened, I found myself sipping warm coke and looking up at the dreaded undercling.
"Me in the tufa dihedral, the top of the 7c+ down left of the rope, my can of coke just meters away" ©Lars Verket
After sitting in the rest until I could barely feel my legs waiting for Dag Hagen, the editor of the Norwegian climbing magazine Norsk Klatring, to get into a photo position above me, I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
The ropedrag was worse then feared and I was getting pumped and stressed even before I reached the move. Once there however all that disappeared, nothing mattered but that elusive small crimp above me.
I pull hard, screamed, stuck it, fought through the next moves, mantled like a monkey in heat and it was done!
My longest "sportsroute" to date, a weird mix of flash and redpoint and not a single lead fall.
"Mid crux, the undercling sticking out to the left of my left knee, the bad crumpling crimp in my right hand. Dag Hagen taking pictures from above ©Lars Verket
"Safely above the mantle, the last draw on the left and only 8-10 meters to go" ©Dag Hagen
So is it really 8b?
Maybe, maybe not, I know I could easily have fallen at the top several times, so how do you grade a route like this?
What I do know is that it´s a journey worth taking, no matter what number you choose to label it with.
"Returning to the birthday dinner in Massouri"
After Sikati we had no more rest days, Lars Ole continued to crush while I just got more and more tired, in the end no longer able to bust a proper move.
We spent the last day trying some new routes put up by Ole Karsten and Tobias on yet another warm and windless day.
Everything felt wrong so, after failing to onsight Ole´s new 7b+, I gave up and spent the rest of the day belaying and taking pictures.
"Attempting to on-sight Ole´s, clipping the anchor is a lame crux, 7b+"
Lars Ole, also tired, had some last reserves of fight in him and by some miracle managed to pull off the first accent of a really cool route Tobias bolted earlier in the day named Angry Bird(s?).
In really bad conditions and using a very hard sequence he graded it 8a.
I hear that an easier solution was found a few days later so what grade it is now I don´t really know.
"Angry Bird, first accent"
"The apparently unnecessary hard crux sequence"
"Sharma style screaming"
"The funky cross move"
"Lars Ole latches out towards the top jug"
Thanks a lot to Lars Verket and Dag Hagen for the additional pictures.
Next up: - The Danish Bouldering Championships and the epic behind the scenes video!
After that I will start blogging about this season in Spain so stay tuned!
©Henning Wang 2013