Sun, Sand, Sea, and Sending: Kalymnos: Rock Climbing Guidebook

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People always ask about my favorite Mediterranean island to visit for climbing, and I’ve given the same answer—Kalymnos, Greece—so many times that it’s become automatic. But when a place is so clearly climber Eden, what else is there to say? Kaly’s quiet, largely untouristed west coast, home to most of the climbing, has a small strip of villages sandwiched between calm green and cerulean waters and mythical limestone scarps with hundreds of jaw-dropper, rope-stretcher slab, wall, tufa, and crazy 3-D stalactite-cave climbs from 5.6 to 5.14+. You wake up, have black Greek coffee, putter down the road on your rental scooter, hike up the hill, climb until you’re pumped, saunter back to your room, shower, grab an ice cream, and head down to the beach to snorkel, tan, and watch the sun drop over the isle of Telendos across the way. Sunny Kalymnos is the best, most convenient, stress-free climber destination in the world, and the new, fifth edition of the Kalymnos: Rock Climbing Guidebook ($55, climbkalymnos.com), by Aris Theodoropoulos, gets you there in impeccable, detailed fashion with its 360 full-color pages, photo topos, meticulous travel, logistical, and approach beta, and info on the area’s now 1,700 climbs — up from the 1,050 tally in the 2008 guidebook, or the 750 total in the 2006 edition (!). (Many of the new sectors are on pristine, roadless Telendos, a short boat ride away and home to the same great gray, tan, and orange rock.)

Theodoropolous, a professional mountain guide, has been climbing here since the 1990s, and working with the local municipality to promote climbing on the island, including helping organize a climbing festival as well as efforts to keep hardware ship-shape and up to date; his knowledge and love for Kaly—his second home—shine from every page, and proceeds from book sales go toward buying an annual stipend of 500 bolts and 100 anchors for new climbs and upgrades. This new edition, covering some 64 crags, has many welcome features that make for a user-friendly format: an atlas of the island with each cliff numbered; photo-topo overviews of the approaches and individual crag sectors; a six-page “crag planner” that in graph format breaks down the grade spread, solar aspect, season, popularity, character, etc. of each cliff; a few sentences on the kid-friendliness of every cliff (Kaly is popular with vacationing climbing families); and stacks and stacks of beautiful action photos showing climbs from mellow slabs to 5.14+ rockstar gnar. For a sample, download a free preview topo for the Sikati Cave here. Better yet, buy the new guide, book your flight, and get your butt to climber paradise! —Matt Samet