The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival took place in Greece from the 26th to the 30th September 2012
The festival was held over three days and consisted of three separate competitions and evening entertainment courtesy of the event sponsors. The competitions were;
World renowned climbers attempted four newly bolted routes a virgin crag - now named Psili Riza (meaning High Cliff in Greek). The conditions were unusually hot and humid for this time of year, there was some impressively hard ascents in 35 degree C heat!
Yuji Hirayama and Caroline Ciavaldini were among the most successful competitors over the three days of competition in the PROject contest, alongside Alexander Megos, Michael Fuselier, Nicholas Favresse, Gabriele Moroni, and Melissa Le Neve. Each climber red-pointing three of the four routes to claim a share of the €5,000 prize money. Since one route in each competition remained unclimbed, the prize money was sharred between the three.
Amongst the climbers who made at least one route and also took home prize money were Sam Elias , Kilian Fischhuber, Dani Andrada, Hansjoerg Auer, Andre Neres & Iker Pou. Sharing a women's separate pot of prize cash worth €5,000 with Ciavaldini and Le Neve were Anna Stöhr, Barbara Zangerl & Anna Nikoushkina.. Newly signed athlete to The North Face team, Daila Ojeda, plus local athlete, Argyro Papathanasiou took part in the contest too.
Yuji Hirayama: "Everyone in climbing should share in the experience and moments of the festival, it is great!"
Surprise performance from 19-year-old German, Alexander Megos, ecstatically claimed: "This was the best competition I've ever participated in, really! The climbing and the atmosphere was fantastic and very relaxed."
The routes ticked in BIG & OPEN Marathons totalled 1,354 - the winning teams won prizes from the event sponsors with a total value of €5,000.
The Open Marathon was won in the male category by the Spanish duo Urko Carmona Bandarian and Sergio Sola Atares. The result was particularly impressive result considering Carmona Bandarian, winner of the Para-climbing World Championship 2012 in Bercy, climbed with just one leg, creating awe amongst the climbers competing. Sandra Nakamatsu & Tiia Porri flew the flag for Greece by winning the women's category. Ukranian duo Anna Mushchynina & Dmytro Mushchynina jubilantly claimed the mixed category title.
In the BIG Marathon, with routes of difficulty ranging from 7a+ to 8a, the strongest pair in the mixed division was In the BIG Marathon, with routes of difficulty ranging from 7a+ to 8a, the strongest pair in the mixed division was Teresa Troya Gil & Iris Matamoros Quero from Spain, showing impressive motivation by the difficulty and number of their climbs. In the men's category, it was Russian pair, Vladimir Starstev & Stanislav Poplavskiy, who took first position with British expat Adam Renshaw & Norwegian Nils Rune Birkeland and close second.
The top three competitors in each category were as follows;
|Open Marathon (up to F7a) – MEN
||Big Marathon – MEN
The focal point for the entertainment each evening was the terrace of the Elena Village Hotel. There was a presentation honouring local activist, Andrea Di Bari, the first climber to discover Kalymnos as a climbing mecca in 1997 - bolting the first 200 routes on the island. Simone Moro also gave a brief talk detailing the work the Mayor of Kalymnos and his team had put into making the event a reality.
The Storyteller event, which took place on Friday night, was well attended and had James Pearson & Caroline Ciavaldini telling stories from a expedition to Mt. Kinabalu, Borneo with some inspirational words from Yuji Hirayama at the end. Climbing F9a is hard... Yuji climbed F9a at 4000m... Legend!
Nicholas Favresse then shared tales of big wall climbing in Venezuela including details of from one of the party taking a 40m lead fall on Trad gear, yikes! Thankfully the climber got away with just cuts and bruisers. The slide-shows backed by Nico and his ukulele were an audio/visual feast and went down a storm.
The Festival ended with a bang on the Saturday night - with traditional Greek food and a DJ set by Gus Hudgins into the late hours. The atmosphere throughout the whole event was amazing and left me reminiscent of the old Deep Water Solo Festivals held in the UK about five years ago. There was a sense of excitement in the air everywhere you went. Kalymnos is a stunning place to climb.
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