I spent three weeks in Greece. By m’self. I don’t know many women who would let their husband go jet setting alone for almost a month, but my saint of a wife is one of them. This trip was a life goal realized. Kalymnos is an absolutely world-class rock climbing destination that I’ve dreamed of visiting for years. The climbing was ludicrously good. But even better was the freedom. With 35 years under my belt, I’ve become a certain person. Serious. Deliberate. Responsible. I don’t poses the poetry of language to describe how liberating it was to not be him for a spell.
A few memories.... so I don't lose them.
// 19 days on Kalymnos. Two rest days from climbing.
// Lattes and home made Kalymnian breakfasts and zucchini pies at the pridefully managed Ethereal Cafe.
// Second day on the island. The low point. Having a hard time meeting people to climb with. I wonder if I’d actually have a good trip. Maybe I should change my ticket and go home earlier.
// The Polish guys. Kudlata Dziwka (aka Darek), Kotlet (aka Maciek), and Cockdog (aka Jacek). We went from strangers to family in seven days. Hard routes, hard drinking, hard laughs.
// Feta stuffed calamari, mousaka, souvlaki, beef stifado, cleftiko, seared tuna steak, oven-fired pizza, lamb chops in sweet sauce.
// In disbelief before I left that the temperatures in October would be so mild that I wouldn’t need to bring a coat. I really wish I’d brought a coat.
// The Climbing Magazine crew, Julie, Alton, and Ben. So generous and fun-loving. Their work is top notch, and I learned so much about climbing photography just by being around them.
// Mythos beer. Litres of no name wine. Endless shots of rakia.
// Leave your backpack open, and goats WILL eat your lunch.
// I didn’t realize it until I arrived, but this corner of Greece is at the forefront of the Syrian refugee crisis. These islands were the destination of the young boy who drowned and who’s image became the symbol of the crisis. The dichotomy wasn’t lost on me.
// My scooter, Crush (yes, I named him. He’s a him). Tearing through the winding mountain roads, weaving through herds of goats, watching the lights of Turkish towns come alive in the distance as the sun sets over the Aegean.
// Stalactites, grottos, tufas, blobs, columns, caves, pockets, fins.
// I had a goal. To onsight (climb on the first try without falling) my hardest grade to date — which would be 5.12c (7b+). On my last climbing day it all came together on a beautiful monster of a tufa route.
// John, my mate. Funny, light-hearted, humble, tenacious, and genuine. Thanks for giving me a proper tour, and for selflessly setting me up for a big win. Congrats on the most epic hard onsight of all time.
// I love this sport.