Sunday, July 8, 2007

Mt Olympus

Mt Olympus: 7/8/2007

We are in the Greek village of Lithochoro, at the base of Mt. Olympus and 10 km from the sea.

Rare view of Mt. Olympus. Mytikos is the tallest peak, right in the middle

A 5AM start (thank you Bob for driving us) takes us to the end of the mountain road; the trailhead to Mt. Olympus.

We start with headlamps on, but within 15 minutes the sunlight comes on. Beautiful electric colors spill through the trees. We admire, but we still have 2,000 M to go (UP!!).

Nobody on the trail, which we are not complaining about. Most people that climb Olympus do it in two days, overnighting at the hut (2,000M) or Refuge A, as it is signed.

Beautiful, clean place. We talked to the people at the refuge about skiing in the spring. We were informed that there are lots of avalanches above us, but not to the right, which had the same aspect (??). This is definitely a place to come in March or April. Very steep couloirs, somewhat reminiscent of Dana Plateau, about 1,000-1,500 foot long. You can probably camp here for a week and be thoroughly entertained.

After a 45 minute tea break at the refuge, we start on the final 1,000 M. Low elevation (by comparison to where we've been this year), so we go pretty fast.

We end up at the junction between Skala and Mytikos. Myticos is the highest peak at 2,918M. The path to it is very exposed, portions of it 3th class with pretty slick rock.

After less than an hour, we finally make it to the top, where there are a few people sunning themselves.

The views are spectacular. Mt. Olympus is renowned for being in the clouds all the time, so we are really lucky to see it basking in the sun.

To the South, we see the top of the ski resort, to the East the Aegean sea. And to NE, a grassy plateau where you can imagine the Greek Gods gathering and plotting against one another. The Mytikos peak is really too small (a few meters at most) and too jagged to be their gathering place.

We are plotting our next trip: take the ski lift up, traverse a few Kilometers, and set up camp. Maybe next year.

We start descending, pole-pole (this is slowly-slowly in Swahili- something we heard all the time on Kilimanjaro). We take it easy (and very carefully) on the exposed section,
then we get back to the Skala-Mytikos junction.

Loose talus makes the descent a chore. With sore knees, we arrive at the hut, where we see about 100 athletic students from Croatia. We rest and manage to leave right after them. This makes even slower going, though we were not exactly complaining.

4:30, and we finally make it to the trailhead.
"Why are we doing this to ourselves?" is the foremost question on our minds. 12,000 vertical feet in one day? I guess it's the trade-off between this and spending 3 days on the mountain, sleeping in a nice, but noisy hut.


Elizabeth Mueller said...

Thank you so very much for sharing your wonderful trip to the home of the gods! Found it extremely informative!

Kathia G. said...

Hi, we loved your story!!
We are planning to climb up the Olympus during the first week of april.
We are 3 young students and we will really appreciate if you could give us some tips about how can we arrive to Litochoro (wich is, as we have researched, were the trail starts).\

If you could write to us, it would be great!

thanks !!

Kathia Guerrero (e-mail:
Esteban Lamadrid (e-mail: