Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kalymnos Countdown

Were should we climb tomorrow?
Yesterday I finally completed a longish multi-pitch climb.  The way the weather has been acting this summer, finally finishing something in the mountains was a small victory over the forces of weather instability.  For the last three or four times out climbing or training, the weather has turned, bringing in thundershowers, lighting, high winds and even hail.  Every time out seemed to end with sitting in the car soaking wet with the heater going full blast.

The jet stream is abnormally low over north western Europe this summer.  The effect in the northeastern alps is very unsettled weather.  There has not been a strong high-pressure system with a dry and stable air mass for as long as I can remember.  Everyone is a bit fed up with the weather situation.

Fortunately a week from now I won't have to worry about afternoon thundershowers.  I'll be in Kalymnos.  Yes, it will be hot and perhaps there will not always be enough wind, but it will be dry.  Planning for the next day's climbing is simple when you don't have to factor in possible bad weather.

Jennifer on the overhanging jug-fest of "Phineas"
This past spring and early summer, I had planned trips to the western alps in France and Switzerland, or even a long week end in the Dolomite's.  Every time I had some free time the weather was not good enough to warrant an extended trip   Then of course all my outdoor guiding, coaching and course work got pushed back to the point that when ever we had a day or two of fine weather, I had to schedule all of my various appointments with course participants and clients.

I will be doing some personal training and 2 scheduled courses in Kalymnos this year.  There are still places available in the courses 29. July - 05. September and in the following week, 05. - 12. September.  There was a lot of interest from people at first when we published the courses and coaching opportunities.  But the initial interest has not translated into bookings and therefore I will only have at the most a handful of clients.  A great situation for the small number of climbers with me as they will get a lot of individual time climbing.

I must admit that I am somewhat baffled by the attitudes of people who want to improve their sport climbing,but don't really take advantage of opportunities that are so easy to take advantage of.  A week of sport climbing in Kalymnos for €450,-- (not including flight and accommodation).  Is just one of these opportunities.

the cliche of climbing above the Agean
I think it takes a bit of gumption to move outside of established habits.  At first it is certainly somewhat uncomfortable, but after getting past that, the potential for improvement more than makes up for the discomfort.  Most beginning and mid-level sport climbers are stuck in going to the same indoor gym and doing the same things once they are there.  They rarely climb outdoors, though they almost always say they want to.  What's the problem?

I think it is hard to accept that when you change from climbing indoors to out, there is the shock of finding that your perceived climbing level is many times drastically lower..  The problem(s) could be 1) you have overestimated your climbing level, 2) you have no experience outdoors with utilizing hand and foot holds, 3) you have to put time in outside, just as you have indoors, 4) you are too nervous and fearful in the new environment and it has a negative effect on your movement, 5) you are unaccustomed to the distance between bolts on many outdoor routes, 6) etc., etc.

Read Dave, he'll help too
There are techniques and strategies to overcome all of the above problems.  A good climbing coach can help you overcome these issues in a smart and efficient way.  But first, you have to take that first uncomfortable step and overcome your ego to put yourself in a situation in which you will most likely not be "successful" or "good".  Many people are not strong enough to allow themselves to enter into a situation in which they may feel embarrassed or seem to look out of control.

Of course Kalymnos is not perfect, but there are now over 2000 routes on the island spread over about 70 or so different climbing sectors.  The climbing is centrally located with very easy access.  If you go in the summer through the early fall it will not rain.  You can always climb in the shade, moving from sector to sector avoiding the sun.  You can train on-sight climbing, endurance, power, multi-pitch, push your grade, etc.

On Kalymnos, you can climb more outdoor routes at a beginning to mid-level of difficulty in one week than you could in a month or two in the Salzburg area.  A personal breakthrough and improvement in your sport climbing is almost guaranteed.

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