Pythagoras was a rock climber

edit (Jan. 27h 2009)
Additional info for visitors from forums…. Climbing in Ikaria is possible only if you bring all the gear necessary for trad climbing on limestone and/or granite. There are no bolted sport routes anywhere on the island. Leave a comment should you wish to hear more suggestions on suitable areas and potential problems. BTW I’ve discussed climbing in Ikaria some more in another post.

Mention Greek islands and most people would probably think of beaches full of German and British tourists, the idea of which will either entice or repulse them. As is usually the case with generalizations, they are usually at least partially right (having been on only three of the islands I can hardly call myself an expert though).

But mention, say… Kalymnos to a group of rock climbers and you’re likely to find that they’ve either been there or desperately want to go there. Not for the beaches you see, but for the beautiful climbing routes. There are numerous websites devoted to the cause and, not having been there myself, I can only daydream and watch videos or photos.

But all that daydreaming is a big injustice to neighboring islands, like Samos or Ikaria… see, when you decide to visit the cave of Pythagoras on Samos, you will inevitably ask yourself how the old fart manage to run up and down every day (I presume there were no white painted stairs back then since he was apparently in hiding) and you will curse the road builders for not having built it higher up towards the entrance.

pythagoras cave

However, if there’s any rock climbing blood running through your veins you just might get a bit excited at the look of the wall above the cave, especially once you spot the signs for climbing routes. Not having the necessary gear, or a climbing partner, I only imagined myself going up. And I imagined that Pythagoras chose this specific cave precisely because it was a perfect base from which to climb every day.

There are no recognized rock climbing routes on Ikaria (to my knowledge at least) but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it anyway. Bouldering fans can enjoy no end of problems and there’s enough cliffs over the water to satisfy deep water soloists among you. Traditional rock climbing is quite possible as well and having had a look at several walls all over the island I’m becoming seriously restless.

At least I got a quick fix traversing the ridge extending a short way behind Koskina castle this Sunday. I had the sunrise all to myself…

ridge behind Koskina castle

Koskina castle

more photos of the weekend rental car road trip around Ikaria in the gallery …as usual.

Here’s one from Saturdays sunrise over Lagada valley

sunrise over Lagada valley

11 Comments so far

  1. Nana @ May 26th, 2008

    I know exactly the impossible spot that you stood (crouched?) on when you took the photo of the castle. Man, you really need somebody to hold you from behind! (:lol:)

  2. Jernej @ May 27th, 2008

    The position where I stood when I took the photos was relatively flat but getting there did provide some amusing challenges. I’ll write more about climbing, with more photos some other day.

  3. Eleni @ May 27th, 2008

    You seem to know the names of many places in Ikaria. So you may know already that the row of pointed white rocks you climbed on, is called ‘Prioni’ = the saw. According to the legend, when the castle was taken, this where the last of its defenders escaped from, carrying their old folks and babies on their backs.

  4. Jernej @ May 27th, 2008

    Nice, thanks for that. I didn’t know anything about the name (does not appear on any map I’ve checked) or the story before. Seems appropriate (the name) and believable (story). It’s a very defendable ridge as it is unlikely someone could climb that and attempt a proper fight at the same time. Especially in that era.

  5. Eleni @ May 28th, 2008

    There is ‘Archaia Ikaria’ (Αρχαία Ικαρία) a book by J. Papalas about the ancient and medieval history of the island on sale in local shops. In the last pages there is an appendice with the poem ‘The Castle of Nicaria’. It’s in obsolete medieval Greek so you porobably won’t understand it. The poem is about the siege of the castle by the Genoese and their pirate allies. It ends with ‘They ran off [stepping] on the Saw.
    Anyway, it’s a good book with many good photos.

  6. Jernej @ May 28th, 2008

    I’ve read parts of a book Ikaria 1600-2000 (or something like that), I think it may be by the same author. I hope I’ll get a chance to read all of it.

  7. Simon @ May 29th, 2008

    I’ve been up those steps to that cave – philosophy isn’t what it used to be – they should insist that all philosophers stay in their own inaccessible cave (without stairs) – and, preferably, live off nuts and berries. And rock-climbing, that should be part of it too!

  8. Eleni @ May 29th, 2008

    Ooops! Hello Simon! I know who gave the word and you found the way to this blog entry.
    Would you stand up in an amphitheatre of a School of Philosophy (let’s say, Heidelberg) and repeat what you just wrote? ha ha !..

  9. Till Eulenspiegel @ May 30th, 2008

    Did you mention Heidelberg?

    I have followed my friend Simon here.

    Did I never tell about the time I showed what kind of fools those professors are?
    They asked me where the middle of the world is, and I answered them ‘Right here! You can measure it if you like!’
    Then they asked me how far it is to the end of the world. I told them ‘The same distance as the return journey back here.’
    They wanted to know how far it is to the sky. ‘Just as far a you can kick yourself!’

    I must try this rock climbing. You say there are lots of Germans in the Greek Islands.

  10. Simon @ May 30th, 2008

    Sorry, that guy Owlyglass is dogging me everywhere.

    But perhaps I could build up Nietzsche’s “Only thoughts reached by walking have value” into a philosophy that includes caves, berries and climbing…

  11. BOULDERING IKARIA @ February 18th, 2015

    In 2012, in cooperation with Municipality of Ikaria, we began taking advantage of the rocky anaglyph of the island, creating the first bouldering parks on both the North and South side of the island. Until today, we have opened approximately 300+ boulder passages, as well as plenty of sport climbing routes. The new project currently running is the creation of a new print bouldering guide, which will be on air early spring this year. Moreover, our new site will soon be on air, providing information about climbing parks and general info for the island.


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