It may be snowing in the Sierra, but that didn’t keep TMS Ambassador Rachel McCullough from heading to warmer climes to climb
Rachel McCullough is an avid hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow@rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building and marketing websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.
Who: Rachel McCullough, Garrett
What: Rock climbing
Where: Kalymnos Island, Greece
When: November 2015
I was at the top of my warm-up route and enjoying the view. The view of poop. Right next to my fingers, 60 feet off the ground on a near vertical wall. These goats really don’t specialize in making you feel good about lugging around a bunch of heavy climbing gear halfway across the world and jumping on your first route. I did learn quickly. Check holds for poop before committing.
We were climbing on limestone, which is very different than the Tahoe and Yosemite granite I am used to.
Instead of smooth cracks, I found sharp and jagged slots, nice pockets formed by water drops, no fall zone cheese grater slabs and these strange broccoli-head type features that seemed glued onto the rock. Then there were the million holds but no holds. At least that’s what I called them. The water eroded away much of the surface leaving small features sticking out everywhere. But they all seemed just a little too small for your hands or feet, making it hard to figure out which, if any, would be secure enough to use.
The nice thing about arriving in Greece in November from Tahoe is that it is warm. Like 70 degrees and humid warm, which might actually be considered too warm for someone with Tahoe blood. I sported t-shirts, while the mostly European crowd dressed in puffy jackets. Not just a light layer, but the really big puffy jackets with hoods. The kind of jacket I might consider for a trip to the Arctic.
Kalymnos is known for its well-protected sport climbing. Most crags have amazing views of the Aegean Sea. And I guess they have seen too many tourists mistakenly climb the wrong route, since the name and sometimes grade of each route is written on the rock right at the bottom of the route.
Most people got around on motorbikes, but in true form, we walked everywhere. It made us feel like we were at home and just like in Truckee, people seemed uncomfortable with the fact that we didn’t have motorized transport (or maybe we just looked completely worked), so we were offered rides by locals and tourists alike. We didn’t want to seem weak though, so we held out until the last day when the sun went down during our final mile back to our place.
Rachel Arst McCullough is an avid runner, hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi and skier living in Truckee, CA. She’s always up for an outdoor challenge and is willing to put in the hard work to tell you all about the process, learning experience, and adventure, even if it didn’t go quite as planned!