Starts September20th and ends October 5th 2014
Kalymnos is not only about steep tufa climbing but also island adventures, multipitch experiences and greek food.
There is excellent food to be eaten- baked octopus, fresh fish, spanikapita, and baklava. I will hype the uniqueness of beautiful long routes, that suck on your fingers and hands when they touch the rock. There are 3 pitch and up to 12 pitch routes. The climbing itself is extremely varied, with style changing considerably from one pitch to the next, from vertical slabs with small crimps, to steep roofs with jug hauls, to vertical pocketed walls, and of course a few tufas and cracks around. All the pitches have been equipped with bolts and rappel stations.
Myanmar was once known as Burma, but is now called “The Republic of the Union of Myanmar” but a few years ago it was “The Union of Myanmar”.
Why Myanmar - There are so many things that are so bizarre, exciting, unique, and different about this country. All things are done the Burmese way, so in that respect it is all correctly done but it is not the Western way. Burma is a great place to go and experience a real cultural difference.
Booking Flights and Hotels
Flights – Air Mandalay or Air Bagan are the best. The other one is the known government airline and it is a better travel policy to avoid known military government owned businesses. Use the web to book internal flights or a travel agency once in Myanmar (the prices are the same although the same). Do not get the business class the seats are bigger but most times if you get the cheaper flight the stewards will let you sit in the business seats anyways.
Hotels – Book when in Myanmar they will be 25- 60 percent cheaper than the walk in rate. The hotel with pool I booked in Bagan for five days was 40 US dollars a night from the travel agent. Then when I arrived and wanted to stay another 5 nights the front desk said it was 80 dollars a night. So I went to a travel agency in Bagan and booked the hotel with them for 38US$ a night travel agency (45 walk in but usually booked up fast). Travel agencies now will take MasterCard or US cash. Recommened Hotels – Mandaly City Hotel in Mandalay best Breakfast Buffet in Myanmar 38 US$ for Double but i would not recommend going to Mandalay it is Ok but the Beach or Bagan or inle lake are better places to spend your time. Bagan- Bagan Princess Hotel 40 US$ at travel agency (80 walk in), good pool, not in the city, near the ruins, good breakfast.
Burmese People – There are many people from the hill tribes, many Chinese people live in Myanmar, along with Burmese, a large Indian population and people from many diverse ethic states within Myanmar. Everyone here seems to speak even a little bit of English and many people speak four languages.
To see and to do
Central markets, twisting brick side streets that lead to hidden temples and tea shops. Insanity everywhere. Myanmar is about meeting the people going slow, eating and experiencing the culture. It is not a fast paced place nor tourism based.
Shwedagon Pagoda - Located in Yangon, is intense and shivers begin running down my neck and spine. I have to sit down to take it all in. As the light changes the Pagoda becomes more beautiful and the temple area takes on a rosy tint. I sit peacefully and mediate on the golden beauty of this architectural and holy wonder.
Inle Lake – Know for easy trekking trhough treaditional villages.
Nagapoli Beach – Beach life
Food – Burmese food is good, with noodles, rice with green tea leaves and peanuts, white rice, many soups, chapatti, veggies, potato curry, spring rolls, sticky rice, fried fish or chicken, or the classic dish here called “Mohinga”, which is a fish-broth based soup eaten for breakfast traditionally. Many Chinese people live in Mandalay, along with Burmese, a large Indian population and people from many ethic states outside of the city. Tropical fruits are plentiful and very sweet and juicy. So I had fish ball noodle soup and it was yummy once I added some chilly.
Weather – Well monsoon season hits Mandalay (July and August) but the rain is nice and cool only 28 degrees outside.
Motorbikes - Everyone drives like a maniac, and there are no rules of the road. Driving in Myanmar is a skill in itself as there are no stop signs and few traffic lights. It is a skill to cross a street: you either just barrel through honking and hoping others will stop for you or you stop and cross when the road is clear. Another tactic is to edge your way into oncoming traffic until they stop. Traffic weaves three motorcycles, two bicycles and a car wide per lane and may have traffic going the opposite way on the outer edges of the traffic lanes. You are also in danger of one of the motorcyclists helmets flying off and hitting you since 30% of people do not use the chin strap and leave it undone and flapping in the air. There are 1,308 deaths and 45,780 injuries a year in Myanmar (Source of data: ASEAN Region Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, 2004). I asked Myanmar people why they do not do up their helmet strap and the common answer was “It is like that.”
Betel – is a mess through the country; the chewing, spitting and the stains everywhere, the Burmese and their stained gums and teeth is alarming.
Laundry – All laundry is still all done by hand – the nearest machine laundry is always thirty minutes away by motorbike. They do not use very much soap so the clothes do not turn out smelling very clean, but on the plus side they are ironed, even my socks. So I took my laundry to Madame Show. It is a chain of Laundry services in Mandalay.
The must know Information
Money Exchange – The currency in Myanmar is strange to exchange money you need pristine 100 US notes; crisp, unmarked, no pens marks, no ink marks, no smudges, tears, folds, creases absolutely new. So once you exchange your pristine US$ notes you receive the Myanmar money called kyats, pronounced chats. The kyat bills are tattered, torn, rotting, Covered in scotch tape and crumble apart as you touch them. The government is replacing the 10 and 20 kyat notes with new ones, however you can not buy anything for 10 or 20 kyats. Well ten 10 kyat notes will buy a banana. There are a few ATMs in Yangon. Also bring other smaller Us cash to pay for things at travel agencies or Government visitor sites.
Military country – People have fear of the government and there are informers everywhere. At some point the secret police will come up and have friendly chat with you. Where are you from? What are you doing? where are you going? Are you married? Do you have children? These are the some questions everyone asks you so you will never know who the undercover police are and it really does not matter.
Best Burmese book – Burmese days by George Orwell
Travel in Myanmar
Public bus, taxi, motorcycle taxi, plane, train, hike or bike.
Travel guide – Moon Publications – Rough Guide – the French one (Routere?)
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As summer days get warmer I find myself enjoying evening rounds of disc golf after work.I have played disc for over 10 years now and have played on courses all over the world; Canada, USA, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK.
I am surprised of how many people have never played a round of disc golf. It is a simple concept throw a Frisbee into a target in the least amount of throws as possible. Then do it again until you complete a round of 18 holes, like golf.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED: a long range Frisbee golf disc and a putter. These can be bought at Frisbee golf shops. Two popular brands are Discraft or Innova.
Check out the link for a list of courses near you.
5c rock climbing
Approach: Zucco dell’Angelone is 20 km north of Lecco next to the ski town of Barzio in Valsassina. Once in Barzio follow the signs to the Funivia but on the weekends parking costs 3 Euro. The climbers trail starts below the Gondola restaurant. Follow the signs to the 3rd/4th Sperone which is about a 25 minute hike on a nice trail. There are many sectors and climbing routes along the way. Do not get lost like me, even with the guide-book in my hand I spent extra time searching for this route! The start is an obvious looking grade 4c but no route name or sector name identifies the start. It is the last sector before crossing a massive scree field to Bastionata Sector.
Foto di Gruppo on Terzo Sperone
1. 4b – 30m. Up a nice crack/flake to a scooped face.
2. 4c – 30m. Climb steadily rightward on a vertical face.
3. 4c – 30m. Follow the grey rock on solid limestone.
4. 5a – 30m. Climb rightward onto a well bolted arête.
5. 4a – 40m. Traverse left and up easy terrain, you will encounter a fixed chain belay once you get to large ledge. Continue up this and belay once you see another fixed chain traversing into big shady gully on the left.
6. 3a – 60m. Walk along the Via Ferrata like chain through the gully to wall on the other side of the gully. There are 3 routes here.
Gli schiavi della pietra on Quarto Sperone
7. 6a – 35m. This shaded gully is a great spot for lunch. Start up from middle route on big pockets and cracks, then traverse into right hand route or just begin on the right most route at 5b.
8. 4c – 35m. From ledge up and left on arête to grassy ledge.
9. 5c – 35m. Through trees on left to exposed rock.
10. 4c – 20m. Climb up easy cracks.
11. 5b – 20m. Start up the featured limestone to belay on the rock tower.
12. 5a – 20m. Cross a small gully and lead on upward.
13. 5a – 30m. Up and onto mega arête with the valley dropping way below.
14. 3b – 35m. Pull over boulder and scramble up ridge to a slung boulder belay.
15. Hike 200m. Following white and red stripe trail to the summit.
Descent: Follow white and red stripes along marked hiking trail to parking lot 40 minutes. Then drive yourself to the Gelateria for something cool and tasty. The orange and limon coni was angelic !
Gear: 60 meter rope, helmet, 12 quick draws and head lamp.
Pera Aquila at Mottarone, Italy
Viaggio nell’aderenzo/Beek provided 100 meters of climbing in 5 pitches
Approach: A 15 minute hike from the ski lift parking lot on the top of Mount Mottarone (1450 meters above sea level) in Lombardia, Italy.
P2 – 25m 5c. Climb the non featured slab.
P3 – 30m 5b. Use the layback, then continue up pods, cracks and nubs.
P4 – Traverse left 10 meters to Beek but watch out for lizards.
P5 - 20m 6c. Climb the fabulous left trending dike .
Descent: Top out and walk back to the parking lot while enjoying views of Lake D’Orta.
Gear: 50 meter rope & 10 quick draws.
460 meters of bolted multi pitch climbing
Gastlosen is located in the south-west corner of Switzerland near Jaun. There are lots of moderate multi pitch climbs on the south face walls and single pitch sport routes on the north side. It is at 1700 meters elevation and is clear of snow by May.
Approach: 30 minute walk from the parking lot Oberi Bire with 100 meters elevation gain.
Hallo Marco – 14 Pitches (6a)
Follow a sticky slab to belay at a small cave, the ‘Bar’. 45m (5b)
Pull over roof on massive holds and continue upwards. 45m (6a)
Work your way left then right on solid rock with fantastic holds. 45m (5c+)
Clean fluid climbing in a stunning situation to 2 rap anchors on a scree/grass gully. 45m (5c)
Traverse from the belay across the gully to 1 anchor belay. 5m (3)
Move right on fins with bridging and side pulling. 25m (5c+)
Grass pitch an easy hike up clumps but no bolts. 30m (4)
Back onto verticle rock with nice pinching fins. 25m (5c)
Stem up the step grey bulge. 25m (6a)
Grass pitch. 35m (4)
Summit pitch, on a single tower of course. Sign in the register and enjoy the summit. 30m (5b)
Descent: use double 50 meter ropes to rappel to the left of the route following red arrows then down the new double anchor rap stations.
‘Fair Hands Line’ is a 330 meter long 6a+ granite climb. It is located at the Handegg slabs near the Grimsel Pass in Switzerland. The belays are bolted and the route is too but you may want a supplemental rack. This is a great route and totally a ‘HOOT’.
Approach: Park behind the Handeck Hotel and walk out the parkingplatz towards the Funicular you must cross over the highway and river on a super cool suspension bridge. Walk left past the toilets at the Funicular to find a climbers trail. Follow a cairn marked single track and scree slope for 15 minutes to the base.
Pitch 1 (5b) Up 3 bolts to an old ring and glue-in, 20 meters.
Pitch 2 (6a) An arête slab pitch, 35 meters.
Pitch 4 (5b) Continue straight up with slab and more crack climbing, 40 meters.
Pitch 5 (5b) Trend to the left and up easy quartz streaked granite, 40 meters.
Pitch 6 (5a) Cruisy climbing on features face, 35 meters.
Pitch 7 (5a) More nice horizontal cracks, 35 meters.
Pitch 8 (5b) Traverse right to a slabby hand crack, 25 meters.
Pitch 9 (6a+) Move rightward again to a flake then up the well bolted and featured slab, 35 meters.
Pitch 10 ( 5b) Nice rightward angling cracks, 30 meters.
Descent: Follow the trail through the bushes to the right for 5 minutes. Climb above a gully and continue on trail for 5 more minutes. Then traverse down to the Funicular and walk down the stairs for 20 minutes.
Gear: 4 long slings
12 quick draws
.4 / .5 / .75 / #1 / #2 BD Camalot
The beautiful Quartzite of Arapiles is indeed a pleasure to climb on. The animals are exceptional with the wombat, kangaroo, stumpy, echidna and wallaby. The bird life is brilliantly abundant in color and population creating melodious bird symphonies daily. The weather is dry and warm making a great destination for avoiding a North American winter. The massive island in the southern hemisphere is really all about the nature, the animals, the friendly locals and world class sport climbing.
Having to escape another North American winter, I headed south for Australian summer, from November till April. With the daytime temperatures range from 15 to 35 degrees Celsius it was enough to for me to pull out the Visa card and book a flight. I arrived in Melbourne and spent the day packing for the climbing trip to Arapiles, eating, and bull shitting with my pal, Anthony. He kept saying shit like ‘just grouse, inna it’, ‘have a squiz’, ‘it’s in the tucker box mate’, ‘good on ya’, ‘do you want some goonbag’, and ‘put it in the boot’. We decided to leave early the next day for the drive up to Arapiles. Over our third morning cappuccino, Anthony assured me that, he now drove slower because he had way too many points on his license. I had been driving with many Ozzies before and the five minute trip to the corner store can be fifty kilometers but only fifteen minutes. We hopped into the car and zoomed along the hot highway, drinking copious amounts of water and cranking the air-conditioning on the drive north for the weeks climbing holiday. The plan was to sport climb, boulder and trad climb.
We pulled into The Pines campground and set up our tents and stored the massive 200 liter industrial eskie (cooler) under the shade of the massive pine trees. It was early afternoon by the time we were ready to climb so we decided on the short 5 minute approach to the Pharos. We arrived at the cliff and Anthony quickly flaked the rope and belayed Carole as she led up the first pitch of the 4 pitch Lamplighter (14). The climbs on the back of the Pharos are 15 to 150 meters long with grades ranging from 5.5 to 5.13b. It was great to do an adventurous yet cruisy multi-pitch to get up high and enjoy the views of the farm lands and Ozzie’s countryside. There are also fantastic sport routes on bombproof quartzite holds. Have a Nice Fight (23) and Pilot Error (21), on The Atridae is a classic and just within prime viewing of the camp ground, so when you fall off the rock and scream, the peanut gallery in the camp can have a good laugh. Walking back to the camping there was a funny looking reptile, a stumpy that has a triangle head and a similar triangular tail, so predators are confused. There was also the uniquely Australian echidna, an egg laying mammal that looked like a hedgehog on steroids.
Horsham is only 30 km away and easily reached by hitching, a daily bus or driving. One day we drove in for supplies and a well deserved rest day. After buying our groceries at the Coles, we hung around in the overheating afternoon sun in the parking, lot with the local farm boys. There were many of the very Australian cars, the Ute. The car-Ute is a very ugly two seated station wagon with a tiny truck box instead of the wagon bit. It usually has a massive engine 454, with shiny aluminum mags, low profile tires, bright highly polished paint, blasting music, an amplified exhaust system to dangerously high decibels, a black tarp over the rear truck box and driven at dangerous speeds by some sun burnt cigarette puffing bogan(redneck). After this shockingly surreal experience we went the local outdoor pool for some shade and swimming, followed by pizza.
The next day found us climbing at the Bard, an aptly named crag. The routes were 400 feet long and the cracks took loads of natural gear, meaning if the climber chose to place protection (nuts, cams, hexes) the falls would be small. There was a nice trail to the cliffs, which is 3 minutes from the campground, maybe you could run it in 30 seconds. We started on the classic 2 pitch Eurydice (grade 18) and then rappelled back to the base and decided to climb the four pitch Bard (grade 12 a beginners route with some ummph) This was stunning to get high up on the mount and look out over the yellow, hazy, flat countryside seeing the salt encrusted dried out billabongs was fantastic. Below layed a scattereing of boulders that needed some attention. The rock quality was super compact sandstone, with amazing friction, not so abrasive, a warm wind was blowing and I was glad we had slathered on sunscreen and had 2 liters of water with us.
After an hour of bullshitting at the Natimuck (only 7 km from Arapiles)climbing shop with Phil the owner about routes, we walked up the deserted street to the local fish and chip shop and general store to sit out in the evening breeze at the picnic tables and way our Takeaway dinner Natimuck and we decided the next day to go bouldering in the morning and for the afternoon session climbing some of the classic finger, hands and fist cracks that Araps has to offer.
Arapiles, just three hours north of Melbourne is absolutely world class with the climbers camp at 3 dollars a day, and bullet hard quartzite that climbs like it was created by the rock gods themselves. The surrounding Australian countryside makes for an exciting environment to climb in. The natural gear protection makes for an engaging thought process when climbing the more exposed routes. The locals are from an era long forgotten in the rest of the western world but it is a timeless haunting era to be enjoyed in the Australian outback. These things are why Arapiles has a place in every climber’s heart.