The adventure continues:- Masouri or Bust – where the action is!

Sebastian and Sylvia are now on their flight to Athens and with the team dwindling to just Grace and I, the suggestion is that we move diggings to a smaller and more convenient apartment in Masouri. This will put us closer to the action and the beach as well.

Masouri Village
Masouri Village
Main Beach - Masouri
Main Beach – Masouri

We spend a couple of hours wandering around Masouri looking for an apartment that is suitable, well maintained and affordable. We check out a few places that don’t make the grade and with some reluctance take up the opportunity to look at a place recommended to us by our resident Kiwi’s Matt and Anna. Locating the Spitakia Studios makes us smile as they are gorgeously maintained and extremely cute to boot.

Spitakia Studios
Spitakia Studios

After meeting the owner and settling on moving in the next day, we head back to the Villa to pack and get ready to have dinner at our favourite restaurant; The Aegean Tavern.  But thats a whole other story…………

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The adventure continues:- Sebastian inspired to restructure DNA.

I met Sebastian Sadowski five days ago. He and his wife Sylvia are staying in the house in Panormos with us in Kalymnos where we are all enjoying some time climbing together. Seb is a passionate man. he loves his wife, his coffee, his motorcycle, his latin music and he gets extremely excited about great food and of course………rock climbing. It is great to see this open display of passion about life and the things that bring us pleasure openly exposed.

Whilst climbing at Panorama Wall the other day, Seb says “I want to go to the Grande Grotto and climb in the big cave.” This is an exciting prospect for all of us listening as this cave is one of the most spectacular crags I have seen yet in my travels. It is enormous, full of steep over-hanging routes on big holds and stalactites that go on forever. You can even sit on them and rest whilst on route and stare out at the Aegean Sea.

The Grande Grotto (Great Cave) in Masouri.
The Grande Grotto (Great Cave) in Masouri.

Sebastian has eyed off a route call “DNA”, a 7a graded route that is on the left hand side of the cave. He looked up at it and was instantly inspired and excited about getting on it. The guidebook states “Nervously anticipated by many visitors to Kalymnos. Not a long route……..but its still the real thing. There is a strong likelihood of lactic forearms”. This is climbing at Sebastian’s limit but I feel that this will not be the case for very long.

Yesterday the team headed to the Grande Grotto for the morning. Grace and I were quite tired and this would be our third day on. Matt was to be on a flight at 2pm to Athens and Sebastian was motivated to send (It was his last full day of climbing before leaving.)

Seb and Matt decided to put the draws on DNA whilst we all warned up on a 6a on the far right of the cave. Matt had been on the route before so it was a walk up for him and then Seb had a shot……..not knowing what he was in for he was soon pumped and not sure where to go. By this time Sylvia, Grace and I were heading over to see how things were going. Matt was just about to leave for Athens when we arrived at the route so we said our goodbyes and off he went down the steep approach to his scooter eagerly awaiting him.

Seb said “Tie in and have shot Craig!” I looked up at this steep route and thought why not, have a shot and enjoy the climbing. Just see what its like. Seb was on belay and I stepped up and pulled on. I thought this is a solid second warm up for the day as I clipped the first bolt. Just keep moving and feel the way your body rolls through the movement. I remember my friend Monique saying to me in the Red River Gorge this last April “sometimes the movement is just so incredibly good, you can’t help but love these challenges.” As I got further up the route I realised I was at the second last bolt and the anchors were insight. I was starting to feel a little pumped, but knew I had juice left in the tank. Clipping the anchors and letting myself fall into space was so awesome……..whoooooooo hoooooo! My first 7a flash in Kalymnos was done.

Grace jumped on the beast next and worked through the first few moves and settling into a great rhythm. I love watching her, she is very strong and a powerful climber. She was moving really well and this sort of thing was her bag, as she is a regular nearly every weekend at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky; her home crag. As she pulled up to the sixth bolt, she was starting to get pumped and the lactic burn was kicking in. Finding a great rest, Grace shook out and slowed her breathing…….refilling the tank with what was available and getting some recovery. Climbing! she says and this determined athlete continues up into a right hand hold in the hand crack………this is seriously good climbing to watch as the fight begins to really amp up. The breathing is heavier and the movement starting to slow, another rest is required. C’mon Grace push through! We are all at the base yelling motivating support to her as she clips the second last bolt…….keep it together Grace….c’mon you got this! This lady is fighting hard now and the pump is definitely starting to win as she pushes up through the last bolt and onto the large tufa that is providing a last bastion of support. Resting a little and pumped pretty senseless, the last two moves occur and grace has flashed this steep unrelenting route. We are all so stoked for her as she lowers off to a well deserved rest.

Sebastian now well rested and feeling very motivated tied in again and Luca, our obligatory Italian who we picked up at a crag along the way is ready to belay. Luca is such a cool human. Funny, polite, supportive and most of all just downright awesome; his english is incredible and his skills are great. He really takes care of his climber.

Seb steps on to the wall and begins his second shot, pushing through the steep and committing start and rips up through the next three bolts. He starts to slow as the enduring pump fest now provides a welcoming sting. He is now hurting and the recovery is not what he requires. Seb moves up to execute the last five moves and is so fucking pumped that he is yelling at himself. We are all yelling support to spur him on…….he fights and fights and…………falls into space……..disappointed and cussing. After being lowered off, relaxing and looking at what he has achieved today, he knows he can send this route. Grace said to him “lets come back early tomorrow before your flight and get on it again, you know you can get it.”

Just yesterday morning on June 27th 2015, Sebastian sent DNA in great fashion and the smile was so wide as he let himself fly into space it was infectious……….A well deserved send for a truly good human……..it was an absolute pleasure hanging with you man.

Dr Sebastian Sadowski with  GraceRomanelli and Sylvia Garcia descending from the Grande Grotto - Kalymnos, Greece.
Dr Sebastian Sadowski with Grace Romanelli and Sylvia Garcia descending from the Grande Grotto – Kalymnos, Greece.

The adventure continues:- Panorama Wall and The Aegean Sea.

The morning started with the sound of cockerels waking me up at about 5:50am. I was hoping to sleep a little longer in my Sea to Summit bag insert. It is cosy and warm……and despite being in Kalymnos, the mornings are a little cool at that time of the day. I dozed off again until about 6:50am and decided to get out of bed; remembering Grace’s comment from last night “Whoever wakes first makes the coffee.” I headed to the kitchen and made drip filter coffee for 5 people. I couldn’t be bothered waiting for the rest of the crew and drank a cup or two whilst updating Fartbook and waiting for the morning to really kick in.

Sunrise in Panormos - Serene and Idyllic...........except for the Roosters.
Sunrise in Panormos – Serene and Idyllic………..except for the Roosters.

Today we are heading to Panorama Wall for the day until the sun hits the wall and we would move on. I love riding a motor scooter to the crag and being able to stock up on lunch on the way at the local supermarket. I remember seeing movies that were filmed in Greece and the stars blasting around the place on Piaggio’s or Vespa’s.

We arrived at Panorama Wall at about 10am and it was shaded and a strong breeze was blowing. There were already a couple of people there on a 6c route, the name escapes me right now……but they  definitely had funny southern hemisphere accents. I thought, “gotta be Kiwi’s?!” The bloke belaying said “Hair ya’ doing?” I replied with “Good thanks mate! How are you?” Pleasantries exchanged and we established they were from the south island of New Zealand and lived in Wanaka just north of Queenstown. Beautiful area too. Great wines and good snow……………”Oh yeah, thats it! Carpe Diem, that was the name of the route.

Grace (above) and Sebastian (below) warming up on Pancelinos 6b+ at Panorama Wall
Grace (above) and Sebastian (below) warming up on Pancelinos 6b+ at Panorama Wall

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Sebastian and I decided to put the draws on the route to the left and warm up. I tied in and Sebastian popped the rope through the Gri Gri ready to belay.  Pancelinos 6b+ (20) was great fun, pumpy enough to warm up on and the friction was just awesome with the breeze and being shaded from to scorching sun.

On a recommendation we decided to get on this route called Cigarillo 7a (23). So I tie in and begin the ascent. climbing up into a large cave, Sebastian says “I think you go left.” So I head left and onward and upward I go. About halfway up I get to thinking “This is pretty solid for the grade!?” pull through another ten metres and clip the third last bolt. By this stage I am feeling pumped and shake out a bit and rest while surveying the next section. Keep moving Craig……breathe…….. I pull up into the next section and three moves in I am toast. Off I come and the on-sight is gone……..disappointed and pumped senseless still, I sit on the rope resting. Sebastian says “I think you’re on the wrong route, you’re climbing a 7a+ (24)”……..I smiled to myself and looked down and said “Your kidding me?!”. It was called Aegean Sea and I was so so stoked…….absolutely fried……but stoked.

Staring out at the Aegean Sea from the base of Aegean Sea 7a+
Staring out at the Aegean Sea from the base of Aegean Sea 7a+
Grace and Sebastian climbed awesomely well and they are really cool to hangout with. We headed to the beach for the afternoon, swam and had a beer (we fell a sleep in the sun) ooooops……….might be a little sunburnt……maybe?!?!

The Adventure continues:- My Island Home (for the next 9 days)

After settling in with Paul and Erin in Oberhaching, Germany for a couple of days another 4am start signifies my continuing habit of booking early flights to far away places. I identify the need to stop doing this, I am on no timeline and this trip is on my terms (I feel very fortunate saying that).

Paul graciously drives me to the airport at a leisurely speed on average of about 200 km/h. Autobahns are such a great idea and the Germans definitely know how to use them, as a BMW blasts past us at some god for saken speed I am happy that we are cruising casually along.

Standing at the check-in counter I am hoping that my baggage arrives with me. I was ridiculously late to check-in and the lovely lady behind the counter very much reinforced just how late I was, announcing that my flight was closed to all. She made a couple of calls and I was on the flight, now to get through security as the anxiety builds, hoping not to miss the flight. Passing through security rather quickly I arrive at the gate and there are still about 120 people left to board the flight……I relax and get my affairs in order.

Today is the first anniversary of my father’s death and I am on my way to Kos and then Kalymnos to meet another climbing fanatic and Red River Gorge,KY companion Grace Romanelli. Grace invited me to Greece to join her and her friends on a nine-day climbing trip. I took great pleasure in saying yes as I thought of my good friend Glenn Short and his very clear and clean mission statement for my trip “Just Say Yes to Everything”.

So I am HERE and it is NOW!

As I sit in 14d,I am listening to a great singer named Chris Knight, whom I think sounds like a new Bob Dylan. His song “One of the River’s Own” stimulates my senses, and as I write the first 9 words of this update the following lyrics strike a chord “ Two years ago dad passed away. I’ll never forget that mournful day.” I miss dad so much everyday but I know he is with me on this wonderful journey and he would be so excited that I am doing it.

Staring out the window looking down on the Dolomite Mountains of Italia I am awestruck at the beauty and the danger that is spread out below me as far as the eye can see. I have never seen a mountain range like this from the air; or at all for that matter……I live in the flattest country on earth. It is incredible and I am staring in wonderment.

Moving further towards our destination we fly over the snow-capped mountains near Sophia; fast approaching Alexandroupolis. I look down at the ancient river basin and small villages and towns dot the landscape as the highways and back roads play “join the dots”. The mountains dwarf the towns and the farm land is only identifiable by the colour of the soil and the symmetrical patterns that are rarely non-human. Nature has done some amazing things but rarely is blatant symmetry one of them. Squares and rectangles cover the flatlands. Large lakes are still and create amazing contrast. No boats are visible. Out of the left hand side of the plane I spot the Ionian Sea as we are about to leave this beautiful coastline and head towards the island of Kos.

Arriving in Kos on the island of Hippocrates was short-lived as I grab a taxi to the ferry wharf and after a brief and very funny encounter at Kala Kardia Cafe with an Aussie woman, I head off to meet the boat to Kalymnos.

Sailing into Kalymnos is a great experience, its picturesque coastline is everything you could imagine Greek island town to be.

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the adventure continues:- mourning the loss and heading for Kos; I am HERE and it is NOW!

Another 4 am start today signifies my continuing and somewhat bad habit of booking early flights out of places as I identify the need to stop doing this, I am on no timeline and this trip is on my terms.

Today is the first anniversary of my fathers death and I am on my way to Kos and then Kalymnos to meet another climbing fanatic and Red River Gorge, KY companion Grace. This lady invited me to Greece to join her and some of her friends on a nine day climbing trip and I took great pleasure in saying yes as I thought of my good friend Glenn Short and his very clear and clean mission statement for my trip “Just Say Yes to Everything”. So I am HERE and it is NOW!

As I sit in 14D I am listening to a country singer named Chris Knight, whom I do like and have done for years. His song “One of the river’s Own” is on iTunes and as I write the first 9 words of this update the following lyrics are sung “ Two years ago dad passed away. I’ll never forget that mournful day.” I miss dad so much everyday but I know he is with me on this wonderful journey and he would be so excited that I am doing it.

Staring out the window looking down on the Dolomites of Italia I am awestruck at the beauty and the danger that is spread out below me as far as I can see. I have never seen a mountain range like this from the air; or at all for that matter……LOL. It is incredible and I am staring in wonderment.

Moving further towards our destination we fly over the snow capped mountains near Sophia; fast approaching Alexandroupolis. I look down at the ancient river basin and small villages and towns dot the landscape as the highways and back roads play “join the dots”.

The mountains dwarf the towns and the farm land is only identifiable by the colour of the soil and the symmetrical patterns that are rarely non-human. Nature has done some amazing things but rarely is symmetry one of them. Squares and rectangles cover the flatlands. Large lakes are still and create amazing contrast; no boats are visible. Out of the left hand side of the plane I spot the Ionian Sea as we are about to leave this beautiful coastline and head towards the island of Kos. I am very much looking forward to this trip, however solemn I may feel right now.

The Adventure Continues: – Oberhaching near Munich

Waking up at 4am this morning was not what I would have preferred to do; I would have rather slept through and felt less exhausted, but I am in Oberhaching near Munich hanging out with my friends Paul and Erin. I tried desperately to return into the arms of Morpheus for another couple hours, but I was denied this pleasure and dozed restlessly for the next hour, when I got out of bed and headed for the coffee machine in the quaint kitchen with the pretty garden outside the window.

Sitting wide awake at 5:30am and planning my first train trip into Munich from Oberhaching where I am staying. This is truly exciting stuff jet-setters! The last two mornings have been very impressive indeed. Yesterday I had my first coffee whilst flying over Scotland and Ireland.

Yesterday after arriving and spending a couple of hours catching up, Paul-Matthieu and I headed to the gym for a training session, bouldering our way to exhaustion……it was great to hangout with Paul and burn some pent-up energy………….so much fun. We then all headed out to the local biergarten to celebrate a friends birthday and settle in for the afternoon. It was wonderful; great people, great food and the weissbier was very tasty indeed!

I am so happy to be with two of the worlds “Great People”. Paul and Erin are totally wonderful in every way and I am very much excited to be spending time going on adventures with them whilst I am here in Europe…….I know we will have a ball together.

Erin and I walked up to the local shopping village this morning as she wanted to go to the doctors, poor thing has a very sore throat and feels like crap. She hasn’t been well all weekend; she is a real trooper and has soldiered on through regardless.

So i am now on my first train trip to Munich from Deisenhofen station. Its a different sensation as noting currently makes any sense and language is a real barrier for me as I don’t speak German at all. Fortunately most of Germany speak English in someway shape or form. I feel very inadequate in this way because I have always made an effort. I think I will get my act together when I return from my train ride. A little research goes a long way in making my life and any encounter I have a little smoother.

I have wandered around the Marienplatz for about an hour looking at the buildings and the architecture is what is striking. It is positively opulent in its nature and reminiscent of a time long ago. Large statues of past leaders and sovereigns are present everywhere and the animal of choice is the lion.

The Residents Palace parklands are just a wonderful place to walk around and the tree lined walkways are a reminder of a forgotten time. Cyclist flash by in droves as I wander aimlessly around snapping pictures on my trust iPhone 6. I was going to buy  camera but thought better of it when National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin started posting the shots he’d taken on his phone.

I started to get hungry and decided the best course of action was to indulge in the local cultures cuisine, so I walked into one of the many restaurant/cafes and looked through the menu. I ordered a black coffee, still water and the traditional Bavarian meatloaf (2 slices) with sauerkraut and pretzel. I don’t get the pretzel thing, its one of those foods that I just don’t like much, but when in Rome. The town bells announced 11am with a resounding chorus of chimes, varied and resonant as the last mouthful of this dish went down. I can honestly say I will not eat Bavarian meatloaf again……..it was like warm devon and tasted pretty average……but as I said…..when in Rome. I wandered around a little longer and realised that I was in the shopping district proper and really didn’t want a retail therapy session, I would rather just  get on the train to Holzkirchen and head home for the afternoon. I am feeling a little tired as I  had a restless sleep so thats what I’m doing.

I need to go home anyways and get ready for my Greece trip. I have a little preparation to do as I am only taking one bag, however i have to take top, draws and other sundry equipment for the climb part of the trip. i can live in board shorts and t-shirts for the most but its the other gear that takes up the room. 15kgs check baggage and 6kgs carry-on. Its not much when you’re on a climbing trip……..hahahahaha. I am really looking forward to spending time with Grace. She seems really pleased and excited that i am coming over to Kalymnos to go climbing with her and do a three day trip to Istanbul as well.

the adventure continues:- I was on Highwayman and off the crux hold I did fly. Dan, Phil and John right by my side……..and I am still alive.

Phil, Dan and I headed up to Mount Charleston for an afternoon climb to escape the blistering heat of the desert and the bustle and boredom that Las Vegas can bring at times. This was a bit of a strange day in the sense that it was my last day climbing with these two sensational humans. They have taken me in and treated me as one of their own and included me in their family life and never once not included me in their plans. I feel very privileged and humbled by their good graces.

We arrived at the crag and there was a bit of an agenda for the three of us. Phil had decided that he needed to start lead climbing again and has been a little anxious about it but knows he has to start sooner rather than later. Dan wanted to get on the 5.13a extension of a 5.12a route called “Highwayman”, this was the route that I wanted jump on again as I had come close to sending it on our last visit up there.

As I climbed through the first three bolts of the warmup route I heard a shout from below, it was a man named Jonathan Short. We had climbed together at the Gun Club in the South Sierra Area with Jeff and Chrissy one day not so long ago. I was so pleased to hear his voice and was hoping to see him again before I left the US. He’s a good man and great fun to climb with. He was also at Mt Charleston to get on Highwayman and give it a shot. What I didn’t know was that Dan had mentioned to Jonathan we were headed up to Robber’s Roost and said tag along if you like. Good one DT 🙂

Dan put the draws on our project and laced up the extension project that he was wanting to have a shot at and descended back to the dirt after a little bit of a struggle with the crux on the upper part of the route. Jonathan put his hand up, tied in and jumped on Highwayman to give it a first shot, his goal was without question an on-sight send. I tied in to belay and was ready to catch my mate. He took off with solid enthusiasm and commitment. By the third draw he was looking a little dubious and at the fourth he sang out “Take”. He was so disappointed but climbed to the anchors after resting for a few minutes. He took a fall at the crux and got a nice rope burn for his efforts.

Rope burn.........it feels like it looks.
Rope burn………it feels like it looks.
Jonathan resting up after his first shot.
Jonathan resting up after his first shot.

I climbed the route next and fell at the crux after pulling the hardest move on the route, this was my third attempt over two days. I was a little disappointed but felt I climbed the route well and was really keen to get back on it. The boys were fabulous support as we pushed and inspired each other through our attempts.

Phil had not lead a route in quite some time and tied in. He was nervous but there was a stoic side to Phil that I really like. He always tried to process his anxieties and fears by approaching them head on. He stepped onto the face and and moved slowly and diligently up the wall, clipping the first bolt, then the second and the third. He looked up at the next move and decided it was time to perform a move that he loved………..Dyno time…….Phil looked down at me and said “I am going for it!” He launched himself up, all four points of contact now airborne heading for the glory hold. His finger tips scrapped over the top and he fell into space as the rope went taut and Phil let out a very loud whoooooooo….hoooooooooo. It made my day seeing this man so happy with his achievement. He went up to the second last draw and came off again. Satisfied with his first attempt he came back down to earth feeling pumped. Next time he said…….next time.

After the first dyno attempt......nice effort Phil!
After the first dyno attempt……nice effort Phil!
Pulling through the crux of Highwayman 5.12a
Pulling through the crux of Highwayman 5.12a

Dan stepped up to the plate and sent the 5.12a section with ease and rested for a couple of minutes and then took off up through the first few moves to the first crux of the extension. With a quick “watch me here” he tried the crux and fell. A little frustrated he pulled back on and pulled the crux move and then continued up to the next crux and through to the anchors. Lowering back to the last crux he tried a couple of idea’s and was happy to come down; next time he said.

Dan on the 5.13a extension of Highwayman.
Dan on the 5.13a extension of Highwayman.
Phil diligently looking after DT on the 5.13a
Phil diligently looking after DT on the 5.13a

We all gave our projects another shot. Jonathan falling at the crux, I fell on the second last move before the anchors, Phil fell at the crux and let out an excited yell and Dan fell at the last crux. although we did not send on the day I am pretty sure we all had a blast together and spurring each other on. This is what friendship is, this is what climbing is and these guys are some of the “good humans” I have met and appreciated greatly along the way.

“Boys” – If you read this……let it be known that I will return to Las vegas and we can go out and create more good memories and send more good routes on some of the best limestone I have climbed.