History

Links are given to reproductions to the original guides where available.

Early Days

Recorded rock climbing in Cyprus has its origins in the late 1960s, via a small group of climbing enthusiasts from the British forces stationed in Cyprus. The period 1967 to 1969 saw the opening up of several of the climbing areas now popular amongst local climbers and visitors to the island. All ascents were protected using traditional methods - nuts, hexes, threads, etc. During this time a set of smalll guides were produced to the following sectors:

  • Pendadactylos: around 50 routes were established on the west face of the five fingers mountain - including the ridge traverse which consists of around 500m of exposed climbing/scrambling.
  • Episkopi/Happy valley: A few dozen routes established on the rocks either side of the main road that goes through the 'Happy Valley' sovereign base area.
  • Diarizos: Now a very popular sports climbing destination, the routes on the easy slab were pretty much all first climbed using traditional protection, including the classic route parthena/virgin. If you want to reconnect with the climbing from the past, then ditch the sport rack and try the (well protected) line of parthena (trying to ignore the bolts as best you can) at VS 5a, or follow the crack/corner to the right of No pump (labelled Mono ego - but more correctly named Ruthven Crack) at HS 4b - again well protected (on small wires and sliders) - this time no bolts to spoil the enjoyment!

Eighties and Nineties

The seventies seems to have been fairly quiet with regards new developments on the island. The next signiciant milestone was the development of the Cavo Greko and Pyla sea cliff areas. Starting around the mid-eighties and continuing through the late nineties, this phase resulted in around 200 routes being established on the featured reef limestone (wrongly attributed elsewhere as sandstone!). This includes the hardest traditional route on the island - at around E6 6b/6c (about 5.12d in YDS and IX in UIAA).

The other main developments took place at the other end of the island, around the area west and south of Droushia on the edge of the Akamas peninsula. A few dozen routes were established on the various metamorphized standstone outcrops - including many on the now bolted faces of Gerakopetra. Most impressive of these being a line that blasts it way up the middle of the impressive overhang (now a 7a sport route - then a E5 trad route).

Also from this period, was the first (and so far only) forays onto the massive (by Cyprus standards) cliff at Episkopi village (15km north east of Pafos). A small number of trad climbs were established on this face, including one that takes the main line running up the centre of the buttress - 65m in total, at a suprisingly amenable E1/A1.

The Noughties

The activities around the late nineties represents the last major traditionally oriented push in development (so far). The turn of the millenium saw the formation of the Cyprus climbing federation, and with it the ushering in of sports climbing on the island. Initially, activities focussed on the previously established trad areas of Diarizos and Gerakopetra. As well as retrobolting the easier lines, new challenging lines were established at both these venues. Since this, various new sectors have opened up to climbing, such as: Agios Iraklidious near to Nicosia, the Kakopetria sectors in the Troodos mountains, a new sector close to Episkopi near Limassol, major new sectors in the north of the island, various new sectors in the Droushia region.