dimanche 28 septembre 2014

Not as good as the 1st time but still flippin' great! Return to Kalymnos.

It seemed a good idea to go to Kalymnos. According to the topo there should have been a strong northerly wind blowing (called the Meltemi) to keep the humidity down and make climbing in September reasonable.

In reality there was no wind and most of the time the crags were damp and suffering from the Gogarth/LPT soap. Temps were around 32 degrees C and the humidity was up around 80% which made it pretty unpleasant for climbing, lathered in sweat, red faced and panting like a dog each time we tied into the rope!

The outcome was far different from Easter last year. Unfortunately it wasn't possible to do many of the harder routes on my rather long hit list. Still it wasn't a waste of time either. During the 3 weeks we visited lots of different secteurs and climbed lots of amazing steep tufas. Which is what people go to Kalymnos for. We made lots of new friends and even met up with friends we'd not seen for many years.

Despite the heat, the humidity, lots of polished footholds and the crowds I still believe Kalymnos is one of the best places I have climbed at. Where else, for example, can you go and climb amazing 6c's on blobby tufas, like at Ghost Kitchen and Secret Garden? Or have an entire crag to yourselves covered in quality routes, like at Galatiani or Sikati Cave? Or eat fantastic Greek food for 8 Euros per person, like at Noufaro's?

What a pity though that we had to drive to Milan Bergamo again to catch the Ryanair flight and have to suffer the crazy Italian drivers on the autopista around Milan!
Arriving on Kalymnos

Our accomodation (shame about the Swedish witch above!)

Tools of the trade

There's beer!

And good food too!

Our wheels below Ghost Kitchen

Andy Chambers on the brilliant Frapogalo (6c) at Secret Garden

Elaine on the tricky Dafni (6c+) at Ghost Kitchen

Spot the climber on Morgan (7b+) in Sikati Cave

Surreal landscape in the bottom of Sikati Cave

French climber on the mega Calcite Star Plus (7b+) at Galatiani

The same French climber on Feuerdorn (7a honest!) at Galatiani

Look at those incredible tufas on Armata Sikati (7b) in Sikati Cave

Austrian climber sending one of the best 7c+'s anywhere: Marci Marc in a Force 7 (one of the few days there was actually some wind!). Elaine looks cold!

Yours truly at the knee bar rest above all the hard climbing on the mega Gegoune (7c) at Galatiani

Sunrise whilst leaving Kalymnos

The view from Ghost Kitchen

Telendos from our apartment

samedi 27 septembre 2014

RIP Scamp

Whilst we were on Kalymnos our lovely Scamp died!

Since January we had known that she had a heart murmur and the vet said we might need to take it a bit easier with Scamp. In fact he went as far as to say that she may even have a heart attack at any moment or maybe not. We just assumed that she'd keep going at her usual max speed for several more years.

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. We received the awful news on Kalymnos. We were absolutely devastated. However, it must have been equally upsetting for poor Caren who was looking after her and found her. 

Scamp was 2 months short of being 12 years old. She was always very stressed out by thunder storms, fireworks, hunters and anything noisy. Interestingly, she did die on the first day of this year's hunting season (i.e. 14th Sept). It appears that she had a heart attack and went peacefully in her sleep on our terrace. 

We picked up Scamp's ashes from the vets yesterday and walked up the hill behind our house. We spread them on "Smerl's Rock" (named after our 1st border collie Merlin) at the summit, which was one of her favourite places and has a beautiful view of the Gorges du Loup. She is now "scamping" in paradise.

Thank you Scamp for making us smile and laugh every day for so many years. We will miss you so much.
Scamp with her favourite toy

Scamp had her own chair!

Scamp (far left) with some of  her brothers and sisters at the farm.

Scamp was already used to playing in the snow at the farm.

Scamp on "Smerl's Rock" where we spread her ashes yesterday.

Herve Gourdel, climber and ordinary citizen

One of the most moving things Elaine and I have ever seen was the silent march in Nice today, to pay respect to our friend Herve Gourdel. There were several thousand people walking the route from the port to la Theatre Verdure. Most of us were carrying large colour portraits of Herve and white roses, provided specially by the city of Nice for this special occasion. The culmination was a very moving speech by one of the mountain guides he worked with.

The barbaric murder of Herve has led to widespread condemnation throughout France and it is not just the climbing community that is in shock and in mourning. It seems everybody has been stunned by the wicked act of the terrorists in Algeria. Francois Hollande has declared 3 days of mourning and there are marches being held throughout France to show how the nation feels.

I was lucky enough to have worked with Herve a few times over the years, on outdoor activity trips with students here on the Cote d'Azur. I shall always remember his calm approach to his work, his amazing attitude towards life and the environment and of course his wonderful smile. Also, it was always a pleasure to bump into him at the crag and trade tales (like climbers do). 

Herve will be missed by so many and my thoughts are with his family. Goodbye dear friend. RIP.