Sabaton in the shade

It’s scorchio here, so shady Sabaton is the ideal venue. It’s also Sunday, so the place is completely rammed as local climbers, many with young children sensibly donning colourful helmets, join the growing throngs from around Europe and beyond. There must be around 20 teams and at least 50 folks at a crag with only around 50 routes.

It makes a nice change to also hear Greek voices at the crag, and we feel a bit guilty that we’re “part of the problem” causing the crowding, though chatting they remain very friendly and welcoming.

With it being quite so busy, I find it hard to contain my annoyance when the first appealing warm-up we come across has a set of draws in (no problem with that), but also a rope left through them, in a clear “towel on deckchair” baggsying move. This had me more rather than less determined to…

and I tracked down the route-hoggers to a couple who were busy working a route a few lines away. They demured to my request to pull their rope and do the route (which I’d recommend as a steep, juggy 6b warm-up with a fingery finale) and Helen and I had both done it long before they had finished dangling on their project. Aaargh! I won’t mention the team’s nationality for fear of reinforcing stereotypes, and actually I was even more irritated to come across a team of 3 Brits further up the hill who had draws AND ropes in 3 routes, despite only being able to climb one of them at any one point in time!

Okay, rant over 🙂

Back to the climbing, which was all very good – the crag doesn’t look particularly spectacular and had seemed a bit “snappy” on our visit 18 months ago, when it had only just been developed, but it’s settled down to give a bunch of fine routes in the 6a to 7b range. Here’s Helen on Tokotoukan, 6a

and I just about sketched my way up the adjacent Omixli, 7a, after climbing down from the 3rd bolt having been lured on by tick-marked no-holds.

The four sub-sectors of Sabaton are separated by terraces giving quite a comfortable feel to the base of the crag. Sabaton 2 is probably the pick of the bunch, with a steep pockety wall of orange rock giving a row of about 10 6cs to 7bs. I couldn’t figure out the very bouldery mid-point crux on Giakomis, 7a, which was an otherwise fun jug fest. I fared better on Born 2 Be Precious, 7a, which was pretty sustained and sequency but very good. Makari and a couple of the others will need to wait for a visit on a quieter day! Here’s a view of climbers on the upper sections of these routes, with sectors 3 and 4 in the background.

Things thinned out the further up the hill we went, and here’s Helen enjoying the relative tranquility of the appropriately named Peace, 6a.

I then did Tsanas (7a in the Climb Greece book but now downgraded to a more realistic 6c – fun though).

The crowds had largely dispersed further down the hill and I threw myself at the weirdly named 97.62. 92 (more because it was free than because I really wanted to do it). Definitely a route too far, resulting in the first abandoned maillon of the trip. Should have read the lone comment on UKC which summed up my own experience perfectly Crozzly slopers from hell. Not what I needed at that point into the day.

Anyway, we were definitely done for the day, so pootled into town for the usual apres climb beer, but got diverted by the sight of numerous locals in bizarre fancy dress. We followed the throng to the main street where crowds were gathering accompanied by feel-good pop tunes and much confetti and squirty foam. We’d stumbled across a mardi gras carnival…

Excitement built to a crescendo with the arrival of the first “float” in the parade; a 101 Dalmatians homage full of tiny spotty tots and evil dog-catchers.

Others followed, getting noisier and more boisterous as they progressed up seemingly through the age range. Cheer Leaders; a Barca-AEK football match; a Trawler (complete with dolphins and prawns); and a master-chef reconstruction were amongst the best. Lots of fun!

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