Relatively unknown and unchartered, Kyparissi still has something of a mythical quality. It's named after the small village on border of the Aegean sea. Its few hundred inhabitants live a simple life, fishing and farming. Until the 1970s it was only accessible by boat. The absence of anything remotely modern is refreshing: The colors are brighter, the air clearer, the people more present.
The mountainous road was an hour of radical contours and breathtaking views, testing our Mica hire car to extremes. Alex, browsing through the topo, elbowed me and pointed at the screen. "Got one for you. Jerome the gangster, 7c+. You been here before?" It was an attractive looking line on the right side of sector Watermill, only a few minutes' walk from the road. I had to try it. It had that inexplicable pull that some routes have. Apparently, John "Blackjack" Jerome was a mobster, originally from Kyparissi, who lived in California in the early 20th Century to find his fortune. He had a hideaway at the base of one of the crags, for which he had grand plans: To build a cable car leading to the top of the neighboring mountain. Eccentric and ballsy. My kind of guy.
I stood at the bottom of the crag, scanning a wandering line of bolts above. Fat drops of water were rolling leisurely off the tufas and gathered in puddles around me. Wherever there weren’t colonnettes, virulent patches of dampness had spread. Maybe it wasn’t the right route? At the base was clearly written "Jerome the gangster". Guess it was. "Maybe for next time?" said Alex, seeing my disappointment. Yes, maybe.
Jerome Mowat Climber and writer. Based in Sheffield and London.