In my opinion the climbing sites in Greece have really a special unforgettable charm; it’s the case of Mount Olympus, where the Gods lived according to Greek mythology, the fascinating area of Meteora towers, the island of Kalymnos and the neighbouring island of Telendos. Telendos is a tiny Greek island located in the South - Eastern Aegean Sea, belonging to the Dodecanese, which literal meaning is "twelve islands", a Grecian archipelago situated amongst Turkey, the island of Crete to the South, the Cyclades to the West and the island of Samos to the North, including more than 163 islands and islets, of which only 26 are inhabited.
Telendos is located approximately 700 meters North-West of the well known Kalymnos, formerly famous for sponge fishing, now a world classic rock climbing destination: in fact Kalymnos has plenty of cliffs, which show an excellent kind of limestone, truly extraordinary. Moreover the mild climate and the wonderful landscapes made it a unique site. Telendos has a semicircular shape and is predominantly rocky, being almost entirely occupied by a mountain whose steep walls fall directly on the sea. Except for the small marina, with picturesque taverns and caffee, the island is wild and uninhabited.
Telendos is separated from Kalymnos by a short stretch of sea and can be reached from the port of Myrties in just under 20 minutes through daily trips made by traditional local fishing boats. It can be relatively hard to get to Kalymnos, anyhow a direct flight to the neighbouring island of Kos is the quickest solution. In summer and mid seasons there are different charter flights connecting Kos and the main European airports, including low coast airlines as Ryan Air or Easyjet, while from November to April, which is also an ideal time to climb, the island of Kos is only reached by daily flights departing from Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport. In the year 2006 it was built a small airport also on Kalymnos, but the flight is expensive and sometimes may be cancelled when the weather is bad, so the approach by sea from Kos remains the favourable solution. In fact the Kalymnos harbour of Pothia is reached quickly from the nearby and larger island of Kos via ferry or hydrofoil starting from Mastichari harbour. The crossing Kos - Kalymnos is active throughout the year, because many people of Kalymnos take the ferry every day to go to work in Kos.
Telendos has not always been an island unto itself. In the past it was part of the same Kalymnos, but was suddenly separated from this one by a disastrous earthquake in the year 554 AD. The ancient name of Kalymnos was Kalydna, meaning "good water". The island was inhabited since the Neolithic and since the ancient times it prospered thanks to the sponge fishing. It was later occupied by Persians, Romans, Arabs and Ottomans. Speaking of times closer to us, the island was occupied by the Italians who held the Dodecanese from 1912 to 1943, and later by the Germans. After WWII the Dodecanese became part of the Greek state.
While on the main island the first routes opened by the discoverer of Kalymnos rocky beauties, the italian Andrea di Bari, date back to 1997, rock climbing in Telendos began to develope from 2007 onwards, so with a marked delay if compared to the main island. The reason should be sought in the first place in the enormous potential of cliffs located on the main island, in the second place in the minor convenience of access to Telendos.
The kind of rock is a top quality limestone, offering a varied climbing on stalactites and tufas, slabs, technical walls, overhangs and pumpy pitches. The routes are equipped with stainless steel bolts.
The multipitch routes are located on the massive South face, that rises over the uninhabited island's southern coast. The wall shows some huge caves full of stalactites! The most featured routes are "Wild Country" and "Wings for Life", running on the two rocky spurs located on the right and on the left of the huge orange cave of Crescendo. Recently (on October 2014) a British team realized a third route, harder than the existing ones, "Eterna", which takes place between Wild Country and Wings for Life.
South Face Routes overview from left to right:
-Wild country 6a+, 265 m, 9 pitches - Peter Keller and Urs Odermatt (CH) 22-5-2010
-Eterna 6b+, Francis Haden, Gordon A. Jenkin, Donna Kwok (UK) 30-10-2014
-Wings for life 6a, 250 m, 11 pitches - Peter Keller and Urs Odermatt (CH) 10-4-2008
*** Three Caves
29 single pitches between 5b and 8a+
Exposure: East - In the shade after 13.00
Style - Pumpy climbing on holes and small tufas inside the cave, vertical climb on the outer flanks
Approach: 30 min from the harbour
6 single pitch between 5c and 7a+
Exposure: North-East – Shade in the afternoon
Style – Vertical grey wall with technical climbing Approach: 40 min from the harbour
9 single pitches between 6c+ and 8a
Exposure: Nort-East, in the shade after 12.00
Style – Pumpy climbing in the middle, vertical or slightly overhanging on either side
Approach: 45 min from the harbour
36 single pitches between 3c and 8a+
Exposure: North-East, in the shade after 14.00
Style: varied, from easy-angled pitches to massive overhangs
Approach: 50 min from the harbour
19 single pitches between 5a and 8a+
Exposure: North, in the shade
Style – Sligtly overhanging climb on tufa pipes in the middle, smooth grey wall on the left
Approach: 1 hour from the harbour
26 single pitches between 5b and 8a+
Exposure: North-West, sun after 14.00
Style – Stalactites and tufa pipes, slabs on the left
Approach: 1 hour from the harbour
*** Snow White
12 single pitches between 4c and 7b+
Exposure: North-West Style: vertical or easy angled
Approach: 15 min from the harbour
6 single pitches between 7b and 8a
Exposure: South , sun between 11.00 and 16.00
Style: a hanging huge cave, very steep climbing on stalactites and tufa
Approach: a wild crag, 2 hours from the harbour
*** Crystal Cave
14 single pitches between 6b and 8a+
Exposure: South-East, sun after 10.00
Style: huge stalactites
Approach: 1 and a half from the harbour
*** Princess Canyon
11 single pitches and 1 multipitch between 6a and 7a
Exposure: South, sun after 10.00
Style: slightly overhanging
Approach: 2 hours from the harbour
The French grading system is used in Telendos and Kalymnos.
|Rock Climbing Rating Systems|
See more scales and info here: American Alpine Journal
There are not particular restrictions in hiking and climbing.
If you want to stay on the tiny and quiet Telendos, remember that it has a few possibilities for accommodation. On the other side Kalymnos is more lively and offers a considerable number of rental studios and hotels, especially in the villages of Masouri, Myrties and Armeos, located along the western coast of the island, which offers a breathtaking view over Telendos. The approach to the jetty of Myrties is short from these locations, so it is not necessary to rent a scooter, the typical transport of the climbers to move on the island.
The islands are famous in reason of its dry climate. It's possible to climb all year round, but the best season are Fall and Spring.
"Kalymnos" - Rock climbing guidebook by Aris Theodoropoulos, Terrain Ed.2010