the adventure continues:- the greatest motivation to succeed is failure……

Robert H. Schuller  once said “I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.” Recently I have taken this approach to not only my climbing but also anything else that I am exploring. I think I have stated previously that I spent years holding myself back and self-sabotaging my own personal growth and goals. I am remiss to admit this as I feel a little ashamed for I have the ability to achieve so much.

To make a clear and new start to improve my well-being and to break the habits of old, I have set myself solid and achievable goals on a daily basis whilst here in Kalymnos. To give a little background will help with understanding why. Firstly, like most climbers I have a nemesis grade! This grade is 6c+ (22) or (5.11c/d) for the conversion phobic. I have always had some mental block with this grade and over the past two years basically avoided climbing it not matter what.

So anyways, before coming to Kalymnos I decided to try and climb as hard as I could and this meant trying to send 7a+ (24) through 7b+ (26) routes. What I didn’t take into consideration was that although I have an extremely solid foundation of experience to spend time projecting routes in the mid-seven’s, I hadn’t cleared a very big flaw in this foundation. This was a more important thing to me than just going number hunting. Don’t get me wrong I am definitely wanting to climb hard routes, but without clearing this nemesis in my mind…….I was causing my own failure…this had to stop.

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the author on “Ermix” 7a Symplegades Sector Kalymnos.

It took me a little while to sort out exactly what my process would be as I had to completely rethink my approach, goals and motivations. I spoke to my friend Monique Forestier about this and she gave me some sage advice “If you don’t know why you’re doing it…….Then what are you doing it for?!” There’s gold in these words. After a couple of weeks here on the island just climbing routes and getting back into the swing of things I made some decisions. Very simple ones.

  1. On every climbing day pick a project at the crag you’re going to. There’s a lot to choose from here in Kalymnos.
  2. Warm up well
  3. If there is nemesis grade routes at the crag, climb them and try and  on-sight them. If you don’t its ok, because its about clearing your head cabbage.
  4. Make sure you are still moving toward the anchors when you fall
    (go for the next move anyway).
  5. Put the draws on your project, rest and then try it again….And again….And again on the day Remember it’s ok to take your gear for a walk.
  6. Walk away at the end of the day with your head held high and show some self-compassion……by saying I tried really bloody hard today.

Remember your process………This is the key to it all. Don’t delineate from the path of least resistance. Your process is what got you to where you are at the moment. What makes you think anything else will work.

This is where I failed…….I forget my process!

I work better when my process is strict and I function better mentally when I stick to a solid game plan……I am not an on-sight climber at all and I’m definitely not a “random acts of ascents” kind of guy. I thrive on function and form.

My projects are 7a or 7a+ at the moment and I am trying my 6c+ grade regularly. I am also most importantly not giving up anymore at all and the head cabbage is not a permanent fixture anymore…..it comes and goes quickly now and I am enjoying myself a lot more………life’s to short!

Climb hard, love long, laugh loud and have fun……….

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the adventure continues:- alpine meadows and a journey of rediscovery……..a pilgrimage…

Rest days bring out the most interesting outcomes for some, others just sit and read and think about the four inches of stone that they could not hold on to the previous couple of days. Today was not one of those days and the goal was to head to Telendos for a walk up to the small chapel built on the northern face of the island under a huge cliff.

Heading off down the road with the wind in our hair on our little shitbox of a scooter we realised it was actually quite cold and even in the sun the cool wind was cutting into our souls. We pulled into to the  jetty where the boats take us to the island and there were no boats anywhere. They were all gone. Pretty quickly I realised that the sea was too rough for the little boats to alight passengers on this jetty and they were using the bigger more sheltered harbour further south .

Karine was watching one of the boats come back across from the island and was looking a little nervous as it was being tossed about like a rag doll on the rough seas. The look on her face told me exactly what she wanted do……….Not go on a boat at all! Hopping back on the scooter, she hugged me and we headed off back to our apartment to get our helmets for a longer ride.

We decided on the way back to go up to the highest point on the island. this was a four hour round trip to one of the true spiritual places in Kalymnos. We stopped for a coffee at Ethereal cafe olong the way, hadn’t been their but the coffee was pretty good and its a nice setting looking over the Aegean…..as is everything here.

We rode through Chora (pronounced Whore Rah) and navigated our way to this dilapidated car park that has a rough dirt road on the far side leading into the gorge. We rode up this horrid little track until we could go no further as our scooter was basically dying. This is where the adventure truly began.

Walking past a local farm to locate the beginning of The Kalymnos Trail (yep they have trails that you can walk) I noticed this was a very basic set up. A few chicken, some sheep and a couple of goats. We initially went the wrong way and I noticed the yellow arrows on the rocks were a little more to the left………we headed left.

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It’s a sign…………IT’S A SIGN!!!!

As we walked up through the gorge the landscape began to become more arid and alpine looking. It was amazing as we are on a beautiful island in the Dodecanese archipelago (well sort of….maybe?!?!) The spring flowers were blooming and the air was less salty. it was a nice thing to notice. We walked along side this old wall for the entire journey to the entrance gate where the sign read Prophet Ilais.

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The path to the best view on the island……….
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Alpine meadows on the island are beautiful.

As we walked through the gate we were presented with two trails. We chose to head left and continue our ascent. Fortunately for us this was the right decision as the track continued to meander up and around the hill and down into a little gully. Up and over the top of the gully we walked. The sun was out and strangely we were getting a little cold as the temperature was a little cooler as we headed up.

Coming around the crest and over the next rise we were presented with a gorgeous alpine meadow that was in full blossom and at the top of the meadow I saw a little blue door that was built straight into the rock face. We had to investigate this strange phenomenon. What an amazing thing to discover this little door was indeed a chapel. So small that only a priest and maybe four people could stand in it………and they had to be very short as well.

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The smallest chapel on the island and its built in to a cave.
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Miss K looking very tall next to the little blue door

After this we headed up the trail and as we rounded the first switchback we could see the chapel of Prophet Ilais. It was standing there beautiful blue and white. The archetypal Greek building that postcards display. As we arrived at the chapel the view was just incredible. This is the place to stand and see that Kalymnos is truly beautiful.

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Prophet Ilias chapel………altitude 676 metres above sea level..
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The best view in town
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Pothia and surrounds…..

the adventure continues:- a birthday gift to yourself is sometimes just the right thing…….

Yesterday Miss K celebrated a birthday and when asked what she wanted to do……she said lets go climbing! I want to try my project. So off we went to Noufaro Sector and climbed for the day. We  warmed up on a couple of 6a+’s and then I had a shot at my current 7a and broke a foothold off. Miss K decided it was time to test herself and tied in and pulled on to the rock to put the quickdraw on her project “Spice” 6b+.

It was great to watch her pushing through some barriers that she had placed around her ability and face a few heady fears. She got to the sixth draw and said Can you put the rest on for me? I smiled and said Sure honey. She came down satisfied with her efforts as this was the hardest route she had ever tried and it was a really step up for her. I was a proud man this day indeed.

I put the rest of the draws on and lowered down and extended a few of them to try and reduce the head game Karine was experiencing. I thought to myself “I wished I had somebody do that for me on the odd occasion when I first started leading at my limit.” When I touched down we talked about strategy and how to approach the climb as a project and not as a difficult ascent.

The sun was now approaching the crag and we had a limited time window for K to try the route again. She tied in and off she went. It was wonderful to see her try this hard and wanting to try this hard. She climbed the first few clips rather quickly and then moved into the little roof slightly right of the crux. Clipping here was paramount as the fall although safe and relatively short had a little swing involved. She pulled out and clipped quickly. Then I heard the words….”I’m tired.” She pulled tow more small moves and sang out “Take!”

After resting for a couple of minutes K pulled back on and although scared out of her pants she pulled the crux and headed up to the last 5 metres of slab climbing to the anchors. She rested and shook out her pump and continued strongly to the anchors. This was her first red point attempt! One hang on the rope and she was up the route. She was super pleased with this and I was a very proud partner indeed.

We headed home to get ready for the birthday party we had organised for K…………

the adventure continues:- Face your fears and set yourself free……

Today was I guess one of the funniest climbing days since I began climbing late November 2006. Today Miss K and I had the pleasure of taking out two lovely ladies whom we have become very friendly with over the past twelve months. Sue and I met at Glaros Snack Bar back in June 2015 and Koulla was working there with Sue and Steve.

We had said we should go out climbing one day together and today that day finally arrived. We arrived at Kastelli car park at 9:30am to see two very excited ladies waiting for us with their gear ready to walk into possibly the easiest crag for climbing on the island of Kalymnos. The walk in was hilarious with Koulla narrating every step of the way and the rest of us just laughing. She is one of the funniest people I know.

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The author thinking “what tha’ hell have I signed up for?”………Koulla and Sue laughing……continually.

Being born Greek and travelling between Kalymnos and Darwin regularly, Koulla is the classic Australian Greek….on the wall today there were Oh my God’s……You don’t understand’s……and the evergreen classic………I cant do this!!!! It was fantastic to watch this lady try her guts out and confront a few fears on the way through. More power to her and I hope she continues to try and do new things.

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The always fabulous and almost famous Koulla K on her first route of the day…………

Sue just waltzed up the wall and had an enjoyable time as always and couldn’t stop laughing when Koulla was climbing. Sue said her ribs were aching from it. We had a great time and have organised another little adventure for next week. Sometimes it makes a big difference in your life to  see someone else do something that empowers them.

After we had finished our mornings little adventure with the girls, Miss K and I headed up to Odyssey Sector as I was keen to get on “Island in the Sun” 7a+. When we arrived I looked up the route to see the 8th bolt had a huge X on it. So I decided to not get on it in case the bolt was stuffed. I was a little disappointed as this route was on my tick list for this trip……oh well plans change and there are plenty more routes near the sea.

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Telendos from the top of Odyssey Sector.

We walked back down to a smaller sector and I tried and failed a couple of times on “Calypso” 6c+. I tried to onsight it but blew a hand placement near the last bolt and it was all over. I had another shot and had an “Alzheimer’s moment” and forgot where I was going and fell off again. 6c+ has always been my nemesis grade and I am now actively working on ending that. I am getting on them when the grade is available at the sector we are climbing in.

Face your fears and set yourself free…………

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Sunset over the Aegean……never get tired of this view.

the adventure continues:- Us days becoming a very popular tourist opportunity……..

Being an “us” day……it was a great opportunity to start the day and be spoiled at our favourite place to hangout. Karine and I headed down to Glaros Snack Bar and indulged in a full English breakfast each.

Katerina, the owner of our accommodation was in the cafe and told us that she would be at the church this morning doing some conservation and restoration work until 2pm and said we should come down and check it out. Kat is who I have now stayed with three times in the last nine months. Karine and I both nodded our heads and said we would pop in and have a look.

When we arrived at the church after navigating the streets of Chora (pronounced Hora) and found Katerina hidden in the far right hand side of the chapel with a spot light glowing to light the area she was working in. She hugged us both and greeted us happily and started to show us around the small but significant Kalymnian cathedral. The reason Kat was there is because a fire broke out and scorched and damaged some of the ancient artefacts held there.

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Katerina painstakingly conserving one of two painting that are painted directly onto the walls of the cathedral…….

It was wonderful to go on our own private tour of the place and see how incredibly detailed the work required is to resurrect some of these pieces.

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A partially restored piece from another church in the local area.
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The altar and the opulently decorated veneer beside it…….
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Katerina and Karine discussing the interpretation of the death and ascent to heaven of the Virgin Mary in this 200 year old artefact.

Later in the day after Miss K whipped up a lovely fresh salad and equally fresh fruit salad for our lunch, we headed out to the lookout above Vathy to go for a bit of a walk. What I didn’t realise was that the lookout was just a starting point for a number of walks to different parts of the mountain range and one of them contained some Italian Gun Emplacements from WW2.

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The view from the gun emplacements
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the base for one of the gun placements…..

Karine and I walked to see if we could find the gun emplacements and we did, well the remnants of them anyways. We found two bases where very large weapons could have been mounted and faced directly out to sea. Below us was a secluded little beach that would have given troops access to Kalymnos if they so decided to attempt to attack. If the gun emplacements weren’t there and manned, no one would have known the enemy were coming at all.

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Miss K looking charming and relaxed as always………

We walked further down the track and met a few goats and established that at this time of the day it was definitely too hot to make a descent to the beach, however we agreed that we would be back to try another day…..we’ll see what happens with that.

the adventure continues:- everything went mo’ better on Mofeta……..

In case you hadn’t realised it, climbing in Kalymnos is incredible. It is the place to come for the ultimate climbing holiday. Today we headed out to Arhi sector to spend a couple more hour with John and Sherri before they had to head home to Canada. We got up early and sorted ourselves out quickly and headed off of our trusty little scooter. The wind was cold on our faces as we cruised the coastline of this stunning Greek island.

Arriving at the base of the crag John and Sherri were already climbing and had been there for about forty minutes or so. We weren’t late we just agreed to meet a little later due to dinner with friends the night before. We put our gear on and start to indulge in one of our favourite pastimes.

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Sherri doing some serious slab grabbing……….

Karine warmed up o a couple of 5’s and I enjoyed the slab climbing experience more than she. Miss K is not a fan of slabs and doesn’t like the experience at all. I decided to warm up on something a little harder and decided to jump on “Mofeta” 6c+ a very unusual and technical route. I had been on the route once in September 2015.

Tying in I was very calm and not thinking to much about what I was bout to embark on. I couldn’t really remember much about the route other than it was hard in September and I had fallen off it in the first crux. I looked up at this beautiful black flowstone and thought….ok its time to have some fun. I pulled on and I was on my way. The first two bolts were a little testing as the style is very unusual for me.

I managed to move pretty seamlessly up to just below the first bouldery crux and get a nice no-hands knee bar to rest  a little. I then chalked up moved out and pulled the crux in a far better fashion than when i had previously tried. Moving up this route is no giveaway and you have to work your feet on some very smooth rock, but I pulled the technical crux after a short rest and then up the headwall to the anchors. Very pleased indeed.

Then the hard work began…….”Polydeykes” 7a+. Talk about solid and unforgiving. Its going to take some serious effort to send this route. Its a very different style for me…………but you can always learn something from these things.

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The author two bolts from the anchors trying to get a decent rest before peeling off…….

Love long, laugh loud and climb hard……….. 🙂

 

the adventure continues:- where there are mountains and I can see the sea……..

As I attempt to write this I am sitting in bed looking out my window at the beautiful island of Telendos. The sun leaks its rays across the top of the highest part of the main peak on the island. You can hear the engines chugging along as the sound moves local fisherman across the Aegean to their favourite place of work. The sound of the sea lapping against the beach is a constant reminder of just how close we are to both mountains and the beach.

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Waking up to this every single day is super taxing…………

I was asked recently what would be the perfect location to build my house that I am planning to build and I stated very clearly “Where there are mountains and I can see the sea!” Although Kalymnos is not the perfect financial location, nor is it my first place of choice to find any sort of stable income. It is a place where I feel very relaxed, motivated and at home.

We have met a lovely group of local and ex-pat people who live here and they have been forthcoming with details about the local community and the pros and cons of living here on a full time basis. Miss K and I have discussed staying here for a three month period. It is high on our list of things to do over the next year or so.

We have been hanging out and climbing with an Australian guy, John and his lovely Canadian lady Sherri over the last couple of days and its been a blast. They are heading back home to Canada tomorrow afternoon so we are getting out climbing early tomorrow  morning with them for their last hoorah……..very excited indeed.

A couple of hours later…………. We are now heading out on the scooter for a ride to Vathy with  John and Sherri. They haven’t been there yet and its an “us day” for Miss K and I. The weather is ok, its a little cool on the scooter and we decided to rug up for the possible alpine condition on the mountain top. Bloody good thing we did…..it was a little cooler than we had expected.

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This alpine vista hides Vathy from the elements…….

The surrounding mountains and valley have a really great feel about them and you notice that you are in a very different place to Masouri. No beach, not many people and a very agriculture based area. The citrus fruit there is spectacular and we stole a few mandarins and oranges that were outside the private properties boundaries to sample.

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The incredible sea entrance and its protected port of Vathy……..

The local fishermen were tending to their nets and the water in the bay was incredibly clear and beautiful. This is a very quaint little village that has a gorgeous water port for minimal ocean faring traffic. A great way to spend the morning with some nice people in an amazing and relatively unknown place.

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The locals hard at work……..
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This is Vathy swimming pool……..obviously not a pool