Leonidio (Greek: Λεωνίδιο) is a town and a former municipality in Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality South Kynouria, of which it is a municipal unit. The town of Leonidio, with a population of 3.826, emerges from a spectacular landscape, bound by two abrupt mountainsides enclosing the town from the north and south.
The River Dafnon passes through the town, and its banks are linked with three bridges. The town is capital of the Tsakonia region, notable for its cultural and linguistic particularities, and the settlement itself offers striking and picturesque architecture; now a protected architectural site, there are very strict regulations for building within the town’s limits.
Most climbing in Leonidio happens at crags on the surrounding hillsides, not directly above town. The cliffs of Leonidio are highly-featured limestone, and climbing is enjoyable and varied: tufa columns, smooth crimpy walls, caves with stalactites, grey balancy walls.
Climbing conditions in Leonidio are ideal for winter climbing, as the concave red cliff above the town acts as a natural shield against bad weather. The best period for climbing in Leonidio is November to April, though some crags higher up in the hills are good for climbing even on hot spring, fall or summer days.
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The vast majority of climbing routes in Leonidio are relatively new. Many still require thorough cleaning of loose rock and traffic to improve. Pieces still break off, so helmets are strongly recommended.
Mignonette, (5c+), 175m Kokkinovrachos Leonidio
In the Kokkinovrachos sector there are more than 10 sport multi-pitch routes. One of them, Mignonette (the easiest one) is graded at 5c+ and the others at 6b or higher.
The weather on that day was optimal. We had sun, but it was not too hot and of course not cold at all. During our climb, and in the last two pitches, we had a nice breeze coming from the north-east and that was pleasant too.
Mignonette (5c+, 175 m) was opened in 2015 by J. Jägermayr and R. Schumann. It moves to the characteristic pillar formed where the main “body” of Kokkinovrachos ends, to the right of the “Pillar of Fire” route.
It is fully equipped with bolts along its entire length so that the use of portable protection (nut, cams etc.) is not necessary. Two belay bolts have been fitted to each belay, with the exception of the R6, that basically had no bolts.
The quality of the rock is good, but there are also some spots that need attention (mostly in the P3 and P6).
The route was named after the lovely aromatic plant Reseda that grows in many parts of the route and has a very pleasant smell.
You can park the car in the U-turn just in the outskirts of Leonidio, where the following sectors are located:
- Red Rock
Easy access from the Douvari approach to within about 50m of that sector then branching off right on a steeper zigzagging scree path marked by frequent red blobs.
Total Time: around 30mins.
After 30 minutes of approach hike, we have finally reached the base of Mignonette. There is not any indication that this is the route, but if one follows the instructions will identify it easily.
Due to the fact we have been hiking rather fast, we took a short break before the actual climb. We prepared all our gear, set up the ropes and off we went for the first pitch.
Pitch 1 (5b – 30m.)
The first pitch, although the first bolt is a bit on the high side, it has a nice start with nice and not difficult moves. It is 30 meters long and ends on a nice and very comfortable belay area. The official guide gives this pitch as 5a, but in my opinion is a 5b.
P2 4c 20 m. & P3 5a 25 m.
As soon we both reached R1, we soon did all necessary rope management and we soon went off for the next pitches. Due to the fact the next 2 pitches are not that long and not difficult, we decided to skip R2 and move directly to R3. Thus, we did P2 and P3 on one go.
The official guide gives the P2 as a II UIAA, though again, in my opinion is not valid. P2 is a 4C and P3 a 5a instead of III UIAA.
R3, is again a rather comfortable spot, though, one has to pay attention on a big chunk of rock that is not very stable and perhaps a potential hazard for the ones situated bellow.
P4 5C+ 20 m.
Just after the R3, there is a small traverse until the first bolt. After that, there is a vertical dynamic climb on a slab with rather poor placements. There is need of good footwork but one can find several solutions in order to climb this part in a safe way.
The official guide gives this pitch as a 5C, in my opinion is a 5c+.
P5 5C 25 m.
Perhaps the nicest of all pitches with some nice good holds and well bolted. Amazing views from this pitch and the only minor part is that the R5 is not easy to identify.
Basically, it is a bit hidden on the right side of a rock. The climber will have to be aware that R5 is located in a long run out.
The official guide gives this pitch as 5C, and I had the same impression too.
P6 5C 35 m. & P7 5c 20 m.
Due to the fact we had been informed that R6 is missing, we have decided to climb the last two pitched in one go.
I found that P6 had a couple of run-outs, but with good solutions on the rock.
P7 was the most exposed pitch and and the end the rock quality was not as good as on the previous pitches.
Finally, after 7 pitches and 170 m. of vertical climb we have reached R7 with great pleasure, in good shape and amazing views towards Leonidio and the Myrtoan Sea.
Return and Abseiling
From the top-out you pick up a decent path leading rightwards for a couple of hundred metres until you reach a large cairn on the cliff edge and another line of red blobs (if you haven’t found it you probably haven’t gone far enough). This leads via a bit of a bushy scramble (more red dots) down to the first of two rap points.
For this multi-pitch climb, I used the following gear:
- Mammut Wall Rider Helmet
- Simond 22 lt. Back pack
- 5 lanyards 60 cm
- 1 lanyard 120 cm
- 4 locking carabiners
- 1 HMS carabiner
- Mammut Ophir Harness
- Simond Rock+ Climbing shoes
- 15 Quickdraws
- Cordelette for prusik
- 2 x 60 m. half ropes
- 4 carabiners
- 1.5 lt of Water
- 1 energy bar
Leonidio besides rock climbing
- Go mountain biking. Want to test your endurance? Bring your mountain bike in the cooler season and challenge yourself to a ride on the curvy and steep mountain road to Kosmas village. Stop there for a great view, and if you get hungry, don’t miss the traditional goat soup.
- Visit historic monasteries, traditional mansions and world-class archaeological sites. The famous monastery of Elona is hidden in the cliffs just a stone’s throw away. The traditional mansions of Leonidio, such as the Tsikaliotis House, showcase local architecture at its best. And numerous world-renowned archaeological sites, such as the Unesco World Heritage sites of Mycenae and Tiryns, are just over an hour away.
- Dive into the blue. The magical underwater world of the Myrtoan Sea awaits, and if it’s your lucky day you may even get to hang out with dolphins. If all you want is a day at the beach, no problem! We promise you can find your own perfect spot at one of many beaches around Leonidio.
- Experience local festivities and tradition. Easter celebrations at Leonidio, during which softly lit hot air balloons are released above the water at dusk, are not to miss. Famous also are the regional festivals (called panigíri) throughout summer, at the height of which Leonidio also celebrates one of its most acclaimed products, the Tsakonian eggplant (melitzána), with Melitzazz, an annual multi-day festival bringing together food and jazz music!
For more info about Rock climbing in Leonidio, feel free to visit the following websites: