Originally Kilian and I wanted to go to Croatia and Ticino this February. But sometimes plans do not work out... The weather made it impossible to go there therefore we booked a flight to Greece and two days later we were in Leonidio. Sitting on the terrace of our hosts Manja and Elias we were enjoying a homegrown and freshly squeezed orange juice. It ain't always bad if you have to change your original plans!
Kilian and I decided to go to Leonidio because we wanted to see something new, remote and charming. We found out that the climbing areas around Leonidio were fairly new and therefore we were curious to see its potential and to possibly bolt something ourselves.
We had a good time climbing in many different sectors with our friends from Berlin and we also got the chance to do some first ascents. I freed a route called "dutch cupcake" 7b+, in the sector "panorama", bolted by our friend Christian Wahle. Additionally I made the first ascent of the route which Kilian bolted and called it "ahoi", 8a. It is situated in a small sector very close to the road, is 25 meters long, climbs through a roof and onto a slab, on tufas and crimps - simply beautiful ;) .
The area I liked best was "la maison du chèvres" bolted by Caroline Ciavaldini and James Pearson. It is an amazing orange-red rock feature with a great view onto the river which runs through the valley. We spent a few days in this sector and on our last day Kilian managed to free the project called "capricorn", which he graded 9a.
All in all our climbing trip to Leonidio was great fun and I cannot wait to come back!
As we are heading down Highway 20 through Tel Aviv, I realize that I will not see these skyscrapers again. The drive marks the end of our climbing trip in Israel. Right now I do not mind the soldiers who are standing at the bus stops on the highway anymore.
“Why Israel?”, was the reaction of my friends when I told them that I am about to go to the Middle East. To me the answer was clear: Apparently there are a lot of amazing climbing areas. Nine friends of mine joined me and we decided to check out Israel’s climbing potential together. In fact this trip was Heiko’s idea. He met an Israeli climber, Or Wechsler, at the climbing world cups and talked with him about the rock in his home country. Or was very happy that foreign climbers are interested to see his areas and volunteered to be our guide for the time we were there. This is how the idea of a trip to Israel was born. We climbed in a lot of different areas all around the country. But the first one left the most impression on me. Maybe because it was our first day. We drove through Jerusalem and suddenly we saw a huge wall, which we passed. We entered Palestine’s West Bank. The difference was obvious: Worse houses, worse cars, not a lot of electricity at night. We drove into a Jewish settlement and told the guards that we would go bird-watching, which is more accepted than climbing. We parked our cars and hiked back out of the settlement and through agrarian fields of the Palestinians. We talked a lot about the history of the country and about nowadays’ situation. At home I never quiet grasped what the Israeli settlement policy means. Now that I drove through the gate, stood in this area and looked outside the barbwire I got a better picture of this situation. On both sides people want to live their lives.
Climbingwise we saw a lot of different areas all around the country. My favourite was “Keshet Cave”, which has long routes on great limestone. I also like the oldest area, called “Gitta” a lot, because it's climbs are powerful and short. All in all climbing in Israel offers a great variety and I am happy that I paid this interesting and exciting country a visit. I have to say that without Or’s help everything would have been more complicated, therefore a huge THANK YOU goes out to him!