The Kalymnos Climbing Festival: Legends in Lycra

The Kalymnos Climbing Festival: Legends in Lycra

From October 9-12, the Greek island paradise of Kalymnos played host to the 2014 The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival. Thousands were on hand to take part in the event, participating in climbing competitions and celebrating legends of the sport. The North Face climber Matt Segal traveled to Kalymnos for the four-day festival, and came away with a reminder of how rich his sport’s history is.

Day 4 – Deep Water Soloing

Day 4 – Deep Water Soloing

This year’s Kalymnos Climbing Festival introduced a new format to the event, Deep Water Soloing on the island. On Sunday morning, around 30 climbers, including the 6 legends and The North Face athletes such as Iker and Eneko Pou, headed off on boats to the Deep Water Solo spot. Supported and cheered on by the others, the climbers gave the routes a go whilst the sun beat down on them. The water was deliciously blue as the photos show, adding to the fun of falling into the sea whilst climbing. Photo credit: Eddie Gianelloni, Matteo Mocellin and Damiano...
Day 3 – The Day of the Legends

Day 3 – The Day of the Legends

In a typically Kalymnian way, the climbers were blessed with splendid sunshine, a nice breeze and, of course, an incredible panorama. For the first time ever, 6 legendary climbers of the 80s and 90s worked together to climb 15 new routes ranging from 7a to 8b+. By the end of the day, Japan’s Yuji Hirayama, Austria’s Gerhard Hörhager, Spain’s Patxi Arocena, Great Britain’s Ben Moon, USA’s Boone Speed and France’s Jean-Baptiste Tribout accomplished 9 of the 15 routes under the gaze of climbers from all over the world.

7 things you didn’t know about Kalymnos (including facts about goat raiders, dynamites and pirate treasure)

7 things you didn’t know about Kalymnos (including facts about goat raiders, dynamites and pirate treasure)

When Simone Moro and Manolo were one of the first ones to climb on the island in the late 90s, the locals thought they were looking for pirate treasure up in the mountains, as climbing was such a foreign concept to them. The climbers tend to have to share their meals with the local goats as they are prone to raiding their rucksacks during the climbs. This year’s Kalymnos Climbing Festival is the first time the 6 legends of climbing Ben Moon, Jean-Baptiste Tribout, Yuji Hirayama, Boone Speed, Gerhard Hörhager and Patxi Arocena will climb together.

Day 1 – A Snapshot of the Event

Day 1 – A Snapshot of the Event

In the past few days, climbers have been streaming on to the island in preparation for the third edition of the Kalymnos Climbing Festival that kicked off today. An expected 2500 climbers of all ranges will be participating in the competitions, the events and the parties that are held on this Greek climbing paradise and so far the buzzing vibes have been elated, to say the least. This morning the hills and the rock faces were dotted with colourful bodies as the first day kicked off. Building on the success of last year’s edition, registered climbers will participate in the two competitions (about 600 – 700 climbers), the Open and Big Marathon, on Friday and Saturday. Although they won’t be taking part in the competitive side of the festival, the rest of the 2500 attendees will be on the island to support the other climbers, do some climbing of their own and to spectate the various festival events. One of the most sought after moments will take place Saturday morning when 6 legendary climbers will be attempting to jointly climb 15 new routes from 7a to 8c on the island of Telendos. These climbing stars were truly the leaders of the sport in the 80s and 90s, and much of it’s development today is owed to them. It’s therefore understandable that much excitement is built up around when Japan’s Yuji Hirayama, Austria’s Gerhard Hörhager, Spain’s Patxi Arocena, Great Britain’s Ben Moon, USA’s Boone Speed and France’s Jean-Baptiste Tribout will be gathering in the Princess Canyon. They will also be sharing their stories and achievements from back in the day...
Climbing Legends – Iker & Eneko Pou talks about Patxi Arocena

Climbing Legends – Iker & Eneko Pou talks about Patxi Arocena

Patxi Arocena is a mythical climber and from Basque Country in Spain. Born in San Sebastian-Donosti in 1965, Patxi became one of the early pioneers of sport climbing in Spain and had huge influence on the growth of the sport here. He did the first 8a and 8a+ onsight routes, and the first 8c route in Spain, with “El Calvario”. For many years Patxi was an inspiration for the new generations of Spanish climbers, including us who looked upon Patxi as a role model. Patxi had a long career on the competition scene, many times he was a Spanish lead climbing champion and he set very high standards in international competitions. These days Patxi focuses a lot of his time on his family but also manages to squeeze in his other two passions: surfing and climbing. We’re looking forward to seeing Patxi at the Kalymnos Festival this...
Climbing Legends – Simone Moro Speaks About Maurizio ‘Manolo’ Zanolla

Climbing Legends – Simone Moro Speaks About Maurizio ‘Manolo’ Zanolla

You could say that Manolo is a climbing legend but I don’t think this is enough; he is much more than that. He is an icon in the sport climbing world. Through his climbing style and abilities during the 1980s Manolo achieved almost mythical status. He became known as ‘The Magician’ due to his ability to almost float up difficult slab climbs. At the age of 56 he shows no signs of stopping, still able to climb at the highest level and push the magical grade of 9a. In climbing history I think that Manolo really remains unique due the fact that most other top climbers are 30/35 years younger than him. Some of the things he used to do in the early days were unbelievable – climbing big walls, solo, in running shoes during ’70s and early ’80s. He did the first 8a, 8b and 8c in Italy and one of the first in the world to achieve such grades. In fact, some of his routes remain unrepeated to this day. He has always led a simple, very reserved and quiet life. He actively avoided competition, as this was not where he gained his satisfaction. He just tried to climb harder and harder routes whilst keeping the joy and the freedom to enjoy his pure style of life. He is a true example of longevity in sport and in motivation. For sure a rare example of consistency and pureness in sport...
Climbing Legends – James Pearson on Boone Speed

Climbing Legends – James Pearson on Boone Speed

For US climbers, and a lot of us over the other side of the pond, Boone Speed and his climbing needs little introduction. His first ascent of Super Tweak in Logan Canyon raised American sport climbing standards, and amongst other things set a 14 year old kid called Chris on his journey to becoming “Sharma” Despite still climbing at a high level, Boone’s recent focus has shifted more towards photography and video, and it was in his role as expedition photographer that I first met him in 2010. We spent many long nights in Turkey, talking about the important things in life. The pasts, presents, and futures. Sex, drugs, and Rock’n’roll, and in those short 2 weeks I felt lucky to learn a little more about the real Boone, the person inside. For me, it’s that part of someone that speaks loudest, and the little gestures and actions that make the greatest impression. One day in Turkey, I got stranded on my own in the closest big city (better not to ask), Night was falling, I had no idea how to get home, and for want of a better solution just started walking. 2 hours later, I finally gave up what little of my pride remained and called to my friends up at our camp. When I finally got through, I could hear a big party in the back ground, and it was difficult to talk over the noise. It was clear everyone was in full-flow and I was less than hopeful about my chance of rescue, but after being passed around the group a few times I finally...
Caroline Ciavaldini – Insights from Kalymnos

Caroline Ciavaldini – Insights from Kalymnos

Who’s climbing style amongst the athletes that are here do you admire the most? Male and Female Joanna Ernst from the comp. When she was 15 she was so fluent and so light. Just as if every hold was a jug, when she was open-handing it really looked effortless. Really,really smooth. So yeah, JoannaErnst. For the men, he’s not here, but he was last year… Yuji Hirayama. He’s got this very Asian cat-like style. He’s very dynamic and at the same time very light on his holdsand very precise on his foot placements. It’s like a cross between adancer, a cat and karate kid. Who would you say is most similar to you, climbing-wise? It’s hard to say as I can’t see myself. Basically, you’d have to find a girl with no finger strength, but with big muscle strength and good endurance… maybe Nina Caprez, except that she has less big muscle strength and more finger strength. You got married little more than one week ago to climber James Pearson, has that had an affect on how you are looking at this contest? Definitely, I prepared myself a tiny, tiny bit for this contest. We went to La Reunion in June, to open a route. Which means a lot of working out, a lot of cleaning but very little climbing action. In August, we then went trad climbing, which also meant not a huge amount of climbing in terms of sports climbing. So then I took 2 weeks in September to train a bit indoors, because I thought otherwise it would be ridiculous to turn up to the contest....
Day One: The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival

Day One: The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival

It’s the first day of The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival and the competition has been blessed with superb conditions without a cloud in the sky and a pleasant autumn sun.Running for the second year in a row, the contest has had a cracking start with Alexander Megos leading the classification having sent two routes on sight in the first hour. After having approached the West Face of Skalia Cave, the 19 year old initiated his climb of “The Unexpected Journey”, a route with a suggested grade of 7C+, and completes it on sight. Roughly 20 minutes later he sets his mind on 8B graded “Don’t Touch My Balls” and sends that on sight too. Kilian Fischhuber, on the other hand, sent “Don’t Call Me Greasy” On the ladies side, Anna Stohr, sent “Banana Party” which has a suggested grade of 8A. As the day goes on, we’ll see how things evolve – the comp is packed with world-class athletes with huge potential, such as Daniel Woods, Caroline Ciavaldini, Gabriele Moroni and Nina Caprez. The live stream of the event is happening today between 12.00 and 14.00 local time on our event page for Kalymnos:...