Ikaria Jamming

posted in: Adventures Abroad | 2

This spring, three years after my first trip to the island, I managed to return to Ikaria, Greece. This time it was with my girlfriend Daniela for some climbing, beach time, and resting before our busy summer season. With limited holidays left on our calendars, we were looking for a place where we could get to fairly easily with good weather for both swimming and climbing and most importantly have the right terrain for some adventure climbing and exploring. Since I had been on the island once before in 2019 with Nikolas Patsalou I knew that Ikaria ticked all those boxes, so the decision was quickly made.

Back in 2019 when Nikolas and I were looking for a place that had all of the above, we went to the island with open plans and without big expectations. The main idea was to climb on some of the already established sport routes and boulders but also explore the potential of trad climbing. We already knew from Constantinos Andreou and Andreas Parparinos, who visited the island the year before and established some new routes, that the island has some granite walls which looked ideal for adventure climbing. When we arrived at Ikaria we were surprised to find out that the first climbing festival was happening that exact weekend, so as soon as we got out of the ferry we went straight there. For the next few days, we were climbing and partying at the festival where we got to visit some of the limestone sport crags and bouldering areas. When the festival ended and most of the climbers left it was time to drive around and explore. We got instantly amazed by the quantity and quality of untouched rock around and we got psyched for adventure. So Nikolas and I spend the next couple of days climbing on the main wall above Karkinagri where we established two new routes. The quality of the granite was exceptional and the lines that we choose were varied and offered some good pitches with cracks, corners, and overhangs with sea erosion features. However, the fun didn’t last long because during those two excursions nasty midges had a feast on our feet. As a result, our feet swelled up so badly, that we couldn’t even put trainers on anymore, let alone climbing shoes. After a visit to the hospital and the pharmacy, we were hoping that the swelling would wear off quickly, giving us a chance to climb some more. Unfortunately, our holiday days came to an end before that happened and we had to leave the island with lots of unfinished business.

When Daniela and I got to the island at the end of May I already had my eyes on some lines, which I spotted back in 2019 but we were also keen to explore some more and get the full Ikarian experience. We soon adopted the relaxed way of living from the locals while among other things we enjoyed the amazing beaches, the traditional feasts and a bit of surfing. Meanwhile, climbing was still the main activity of the trip. On top of the sport climbing and bouldering days, we managed to climb around 25 trad pitches, on both single and multi-pitch routes which, as far as I know, were all first ascents. Following below is a roundup of the multi-pitch routes that Daniela and I climbed around the island.

Xylosirtis lower tier

Since we first arrived in Agios Kirikos we figured out that spending a few days in this part of the island was worthwhile. After a day of visiting the thermal baths and then sport climbing and swimming at “Seychelles” beach, we were ready for our first adventure. The walls above Xylosirtis looked like a good first objective since the approach appeared quite straightforward and the rock solid with a system of cracks going up the middle of the face. Although the approach was indeed straightforward but it turned out to be longer than expected and strong wind gusts made things a bit spicy. We were hoping for the walls on the other side of the hill to be a bit more wind protected, however, this was not the case. Quite the contrary, the deep valley below the walls actually channeled the strong winds upwards and some gusts were strong enough to push us off our feet. So we reconsidered our original plan, and after checking the base of our initial line we opted for a safer, less complex alternative on the tower next to the main wall. Although the climbing was technically easy, the continuing strong wind gusts kept us on the tips of our toes throughout the route. Despite the conditions, in the end, it turned out to be a very pleasant, varied line and a good warm-up for our adventures to come. We named our new line Ναταλη, as a tribute to my dear friend Natalie Christopher who lost her life in an accident on Ikaria a few months after we left the island in 2019.

Lagada / Raches

The next stop of our exploration was up in the mountains of the island where during a day of single-pitch climbing we spotted a nice-looking wall on the side of an impressive rocky ridge. The rock quality was still good, however, due to the exposition, the rock was covered with moss, and although the climbing wasn’t hard it felt a bit spicy while leading, cleaning, and digging for gear placements all at the same time.

Trapalou Main

After almost a week on Ikaria, it was time to move to the southwest end of the island where I had my eyes on some striking lines above the remote village of Trapalou. During the approach of our first outing, the golden color walls were getting more and more attractive, so by the time we reached the base of our intended line we were like kids in a candy store. With no time to lose, we got straight into business and for our first route, we chose the obvious crack system in the middle of the face. The line offered sustained but never too hard climbing on cracks of various widths and a steep exit right at the top. Since the wall is south facing it was in full sun all day, however, a constant sea breeze made the climbing bearable and we finished our day with big smiles on our faces.

The next day even though we were feeling a bit tired we couldn’t help it and packed again to head up towards the same wall. This time with the approach dialed in we reached the wall faster and luckily the corner with the intended line was still in the shade. An easy pitch of climbing put us directly below the amazing-looking corner that ended up providing the hardest couple of pitches of our trip. The climbing eased off above the ledge but the route stayed varied and enjoyable all the way to the top. Content with our route but also tired from the accumulated fatigue, we slowly descended the steep scramble back to the base of the wall, then down to the car and straight to our accommodation for a well-deserved dinner, Ikariotisa beer, and rest.

Trapalou Left

After a full rest day and our trip coming close to the end, we decided to squeeze in one more climb. This time we decided to check out the wall on the left side of the main river valley. Although we started up the line with a relaxed plan, the climbing turned out to be a bit more technical than expected, and at the top, we ended up running to get off the wall before the approaching storm came in. Instead of abseiling down the wall, as was initially planned, we decided to take the long way around from the top. This seemed like the sensible choice at the time, however, the storm turned out to be just light rain and it took us more than two hours of bushwhacking and scrambling to get back down to the car.

Ikaria offered exactly what we were looking for, lots of adventure, amazing climbing, and of course time for beach and relaxation. We couldn’t have asked for more and although we returned home a bit more tired than we were hoping for, we really had a blast. Definitely, a trip to remember and an island to look forward to going back to.

Note: the grades suggested here are really subjective. We climbed everything ground up and on-sight while cleaning bushes and loose rocks. Except for one piton and a stuck nut on ‘’Και ο χορός να νοστιμισει’’ nothing else was left behind on the routes. We mainly climbed with a double rack of cams up to n.3, a set of micro cams and a small set of nuts with the exception of having a n.4 and a n.5 on ‘’Longevity Secrets’’ and ‘’Λούρος’’.



2 Responses

  1. Giorgos Tampouris

    Wow what an amazing and detailed description of your full action. Definitely going to visit the island. Looking forward to your next adventure. Keep up the good work my dear friend.

  2. marios hadjipetris

    Μας εμπνέεις φίλε, είσαι ωραίος. Θέλω να πάω τώρα αλλά φαίνεται να θέλει προετοιμασία η φάση.

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