Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Greece 2010 - July 20th - Climbing Mount Olympus

By this point all the easy stuff was done, and we had kept the best, but hardest, challenge for last: a hike up Mount Olympus.

Getting dropped off by our "personal" taxi driver Ioannis in Prionia, at the base of the valley, we set out to climb up to Refuge A.

Our target.  This was one of the very brief and rare moments where we could see the peak from the base or vice versa.

A short while into the hike, we were already nearing the cloud cover. 

Clouds just barely a few meters above our position.

It's going to be above 30 degrees Celcius that at the base that day, past the middle of July, and here we are trekking across snow.  And we're not even close to being half-way up yet!

Lots and lots of snow, but it's "ski de printemps".

A look back down, to the path we just recently walked.

Getting close to the clouds.

Refuge A!  Time for some veal spaghetti and, as always, Greek salad.

Mules bringing up supplies to the refuge.

Having started at about 9:30am at the bottom, we got to refuge A just past noon.  We rested, ate, and gathered information about the rest of our planned route.  We still had a bit more than half to go.

Leaving around 2pm, we kept walking through the clouds.

An ethereal setting, with the sun getting close and the clouds letting up.

We are now occasionally above the clouds, on the E4 international hiking path for the moment.


When we are not above the clouds, we can barely see feet ahead.

Across the mountain to another stone arm flanking the valley.

You can just barely make out three human-made stone piles at the top left there, at the edge of the Plateau of the Muses.

You don't want to fall down here.

We are so high up by now that the views are similar to those from a landing plane.


Brief rest before going on.

Barren lands from now on.

One of the peaks with the sun behind it.

This picture cannot impart the sheer steepness of the slope below.  You can see Refuge A through the clouds.

One of our first peeks at a summit refuge.  Still quite a ways to go!

The path leading across to the Plateau of the Muses, where the refuges are.

Reasonably sheer drop.

Brief moment in a dark cloud, where you pretty much can't see anything.

The valley below, with Refuge A.

Where we came from.  Clouds are fewer and further apart here.

Our first glimpse of Refuge SEO (on the left, where we slept) and smaller Refuge C, on the right.  The green area beyond is the Plateau of the Muses.

Refuge SEO about to be swallowed by a cloud.

We reached Refuge SEO around 5:30pm.  All in all it took us about 6 hours for the ~9km hike from our starting point, which we gather is about the norm.  At the Plateau des Muses, it was 12 degrees Celcius inside the refuge, before they turned on the heat, so that's quite a temperature gradient along the mountain - a difference of about 20 degrees Celcius with the base.

Setting sun.

Peak by moonlight.

Before hitting the sack, we had some goat soup with Greek salad, which was exactly what the doctor had ordered.  In the mountain, I was expecting astronaut food; the actual quality of the food in the refuges left me astounded and surprised.  It's not merely good, it's great, and it's not even more expensive than elsewhere in the country.

I was fast-tracked through about ten years of Scout training in order to use the facilities for my ablutions, however.  And you really want to make sure that you take care of business before going to bed, because the prospect of hitting up a floodlit, draughty, unheated, Turk-style can in the middle of the night because you had one too many sips of tea is enough to make you hold it in until morning.  (The reason for this state of affairs is that the washroom can be independently accessed from the outside with boots on, and as such, is not part of the enclave of warmth and slipper-bound comfort.)

1 comment:

  1. Mourant ! Tu me donnes des flashbacks d'un petit voyage au Mont Washington en plein coeur de l'hiver...

    Je sympathise !