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.
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.