Hey Evolv Lovers : P
I am writing from the world famous climbing destination, Kalymnos (Greece)!!! Right now I am resting in the "Fatolitis" snack bar, surfing the web, writing blogs/articles and drifting in and out of day dreams to do with amazing limestone cliffs only minutes walk from my very seat.
I have been here now for almost 3 weeks. The first week I was working alongside Simon Rawlinson (Welsh Team Coach and fellow Evolv team member) on his Kalymnos coaching holiday. We were offering our coaching expertise to climbers across a range of experience levels, helping them get the best out of their climbing trips whether it be through harder ticks, self improvement in their technical ability or guiding them to the best crags and climbs.
Once the coaching week was over, we were free to run riot on the island, climbing to our hearts content. Simon was recovering from a finger injury that lasted the whole of this year and part of last year. It was the first time in a year that he was able to crimp, but despite this, was still cursing (I mean cruising) up most 7b+ to 7c+ routes.
My climbing trip has been very different. I have travelled to Kalymnos most years since I was 16, it's definitely a place I can gauge progress after a hard years training. Last year in Kalymnos I was ticking of 8b's fairly quickly, but got my ass handed to me by the 8b+'s. This year, the tables have turned yet again and I've stepped my personal level up another notch. As well as this, I've been climbing mostly on new routes that have only had one or two ascents prior to mine, so it's been very interesting to say the least venturing into practically unknown territory. It feels like new routing but without all the phaff of bolting and cleaning (maybe a little bit of cleaning) : P.
On the first week I ticked of a famous 8b+ called "O'Draconian Devil". My first time on the route it felt impossible! I couldn't figure out the sequence at all and for all I knew it could have been V11! The second time I got on was after watching a video of Ashleigh Wolsey-Heard on it, after five minutes I had done the crux and was repeating it on demand (it felt about V6). The third time I got on it I went straight from the ground to the top : D my first 8b+ in Kalymnos!
A few days after this I tried a lesser known 8b+ called "Trous Dans L'air" in Kalydna sector. I went up once to work the moves but found the final crux and middle crux really tricky. On my second try, whilst climbing through the middle crux I found another hold (a jug) which made the whole sequence a lot easier and I cruised to the final crux only to find a cheeky knee bar rest before the final bulge. Unfortunately it was now getting dark and I failed to to do last moves. It was so dark that I couldn't spend any time figuring out the sequence and had to simply return to the ground and wait for another day. It was a surprise on my third attempt when I reached the final crux and managed to somehow slap my way through to the chains! Wow! This was after a full days coaching as well when I was pretty much spent having done already a lot of mileage putting up ropes on easier climbs.
After this, I went to an older sector called Odyssey where I attempted an old 8b+ called "Nadir". This used to be 8c but is far from it (probably a soft touch 8b+). This again was totally different to everything else on the island. It is more or less vertical for the last half and is only very slightly overhung until then. The crux is a nasty boulder problem on very sharp crimps and reminds me more of Malham than anything else. This was probably my biggest challenge as it took me around 7 goes to finish it, but I also think my beta for the crux was wrong up until my sending try.
After a rest day, I went back to Kalydna to try the left hand variation of "Trous Dans L'air" called "Fake Friends" (Given then 8c). Amazingly, on my second go I fell staring the chains in the face. This was an exhileratin sensation, to almost tick an 8c 2nd go!!! Unfortunately, I knew that it wasnt 8c and 8b or 8b+ would be closer to the mark, but I was still super psyched : D a day later and I sent it 4th try.
After another rest day I went back up to Kalydna to try the other 8c at the crag, hoping perhaps for more of a challenge. The route was awesome, called "Keep Going" involves the weirdest climbing I've done in Kalymnos. Despite having been climbed by a number of strong climbers, I felt that it was more like a normal 8b, just a bit techier than the others, but not as physical.
It is now the end of my trip and I'm heading home in 3 days. I've had a wonderful time this year and I feel like my personal development in climbing has come a long way over the last year. I am now more confident than ever where I can take my climbing in the future and I'm psyched for returning next year and hopefully progressing onto the two classic 8c+'s of the island "Inshallah" and "Guta Gora Attack".
We will see what the future brings...