MT OLYMPUS – TO THE TOP
October 17th, 2020. Summer is slowly coming to an end. Winter is creeping in. It’s the last few weekends before the cold really hits us. No better time to climb the tallest peak in Greece.
We began from the Gortsia Parking area on the East side of the mountain, and made our way up to the Muses Plateau. On average it took about 6.5 hours, including a half hour stop at Petrostrouga Refuge to catch out breath and have a cup of tea.
The weather was incredible. Temperatures were in the mid 10s most of the day, so the hike was easy. We were informed that beds at the refuges had been restricted before even arriving, so we came prepared to sleep under the stars. Or in tents anyway.
After setting up basecamp right in the middle of the two refuges, we headed up to Apostolidis Refuge to grab a bight to eat and talk about the next day’s ascent to the peak with our lead guide Sakis Pitenis (Trekking Hellas Mt Olympus). The place was rammed with fellow hikers, climbers, adventurers and first time visitors. But once a plate of hot food got placed in front of my mouth the whole world disappeared and it was by far the best meal I’ve ever had.
We finished up and headed back to our tents for a chilly night’s sleep. 6am start the next day. Better get some rest. I tried. My sleeping bag was a little less than ideal. My toes felt like they were about to fall off. Couldn’t get much sleep but as soon as the alarm went off I happily got up to move around and warm up somehow.
Off to the beginning of the Louki of Mytikas. The long, narrow and steep corridor leading up to the peak of the mountain, at 2918m. I had only heard of this section of the ascent. And I’m no experienced climber. But somehow I didn’t get too scared. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. The sun began to shine on the rocky surface leading up to the top, and I couldn’t wait to touch them with my bare hands to warm up my fingers and toes.
Sakis and Tasos from Trekking Hellas led the way for our group. Some friends went up with Nikos, Babis and Stergios from WildTrek Greece. And just like doing a tour of a busy museum, we crossed paths on the way up and down, briefly, but long enough to exchange smiles and take a couple photos.
The peak was lit perfectly by the morning sun, so it was a welcome break from the chilly ascent. It felt good to be up there, a really nice reward after a tough hike up carrying tents and sleeping bags the previous day, and a bad night’s sleep. None of that mattered though. I tried to take in the view along the crystal clear horizon, the sea on one side and the open plains to the West. And that morning light. I know I mentioned that already. But damn it just made everything look so damn good. A great moment. A few more minutes to take photos and hug your buddies, before heading back down the rocky chute.
The descent seemed like an impossible task. It was super steep and we already knew how careful you had to be going up. And there were more groups making their way up at the same time. Like trying to run down a two way escalator in the Tokyo Metro. But once we got going it wasn’t actually that bad. You pick up a rhythm and before you know it each new step was easier than the one before. Piece of cake. Even for Andreas who was scared of heights. He got to the top and back down without even breaking a sweat.
We got back to Apostolidis Refuge for some breakfast and coffee with the rest of the group who decided not to come to the top with us. We could see they were still tired, some hadn’t slept well at all. Others still tired from the previous day’s hike. But we busted in with radiating smiles and tons of energy. It was contagious.
Time to leave. We made our way back to camp. Took our last few photos in the warm sun. Packed our tents and strapped up our bags, and headed down for another 6 hour hike. It was hard on the knees. And the last few kilometers felt like torture. But that moment you see your car parked at the bottom of the road is golden. We got this second wave of energy as we dropped our bags into our cars and said our goodbyes before heading back home. 2 days went by pretty fast. It felt like more, but I was also happy to head back to Athens, with a quick pit stop at the Thermopylae hot springs of course.
Thanks to everyone who came! And congratulations to each and every one of you for outdoing yourselves! Hopefully it’s not the last time we see each other on the mountain of the gods.
This year’s IKARIA Surf & Yoga camp was an absolute blast! I still can’t believe we crammed so much into such a small amount of time. The fact that we only had three days of waves gave us the motivation we needed to explore the island and take advantage of everything it has to offer. We surfed, we stretched, we learned new balancing techniques, we climbed rocks, paddled across bays, jumped and flipped off anything we could find, played beach games, went to beautiful villages, ate amazing food, enjoyed the hot springs, and slept like babies.
I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better camp, with such amazing people! Sara, Sandra, Freya, Eleni, Alexandros, Konstantinos, Christoforos and Ladiko thank you all for joining us, for being present and going with flow… Stay safe, and we hope to see you all again soon!
TTAG BANKED SLALOM X BIG AIR 2020
Special thanks to Ilias Kostaras and Ilias Mertis for the incredible photos of the event, Mike Vassileiou for keeping the music cranking, and Athanasios Perrakis (aka Tiny Jackal) for sharing the MC slot with our very own Andreas Mitsioulis (aka MC Zeth)!
BANKED SLALOM OFFICIAL AFTERMOVIE
BIG AIR OFFICIAL AFTERMOVIE
Photos By: Ilias Kostaras & Ilias Mertis
Join us on an Epic Adventure to the mountain of the Gods!
The Trip includes:
- 2 nights accommodation in the KEOAX Refuge
- 2 days of guided splitboarding / touring on Mt Olympus by Trekking Hellas Mt Olympus
- Avalanche and Mountain Safety Seminar by Akis Parousis
- Lift Passes to use the KEOAX lifts
- Avalanche Gear Rental (Beacon, Probe, Shovel)
- Photos and Video
Does NOT Include:
- Equipment Rental (Splitboard, Skins, Batons) – If you need to rent equipment we recommend our partners MicroXtreme and Splitboard.gr.
- Food and Drinks (Food at KEOAX usually includes Soup and traditional plates, about 30% cheaper than a Taverna).
Friday 21/2 … 20:00 – Arrival at KEOAX Military Base // Briefing and Equipment Check.
Saturday 22/2 … 7:30 – Breakfast, Morning meeting
9:00 – Avalanche Seminar: Snow Profile, Beacon use, Search and Rescue Techniques.
12:30 – Backcountry Ascent: Equipment check, Ascent techniques, Backcountry Descent.
Sunday 23/2 … 7:30 – Breakfast, Morning meeting
9:00 – Ascent to Agios Antonios Peak (2817m) and descent to the Ski area base (1900m). If time permits we will also explore the unmarked area around the KEOAX Lift area for some more backcountry riding.
18:00 – Departure
WE RECOMMEND YOU BRING:
- Water bottle
- Backpack with carrying straps
- Two sets of gloves
- Extra socks
- Breathable Thermal Layers
- Sun Glasses / Goggles
- Light Sleeping Bag
To Register for the Mt Olympus Splitboard Camp 2020 please email us at:
Registrations accepted until February 10th.
Minimum Participation 8px
This year the United Nations’ Theme for International Mountain Day (December 11) is to promote the development and education of younger people in the mountains – www.un.org/en/observances/mountain-day – So we decided to take a group of kids to one of our favourite places in the Greek wilderness, Mt Smolikas, and show them the beauty of this virgin landscape… with a little twist of our own. We hiked through the snowy forest to the Alpine Dragon lake (Drakolimni), testing our strength and focusing on spreading a message of solidarity against the industrial expansion already set in motion in Epirus, and in other regions of the country. It is of the utmost importance that the younger generation develops an understanding and appreciation of our vast and diverse landscape, if they are to inherit anything more than an abandoned wasteland.
thanks to Ξενώνας Munti Smolikas for their help on this trip. And to everyone involved for being champs.
So I went down to Ikaria for the first time this September (2019)… yeah yeah I know, what took me so long? Well I’ll be honest – Up until now surfing has just been a series of small drownings followed by quick smacks to the face and shredded toes (loosely paraphrased from Alexis De Tarade’s description of surfing)… However the conditions in Ikaria this summer were just right, it seems, to build up a little confidence and actually catch enough waves to say I really went surfing. Finally!
Anyway when I wasn’t getting thrashed around on one of Ikaria Surf School’s soft boards I managed to snap a few clicks of some of the local boys ripping the spot. We were lucky to get such a variety of waves during the 10 days we were there. Huge Kudos to the surf school crew for running a tight ship, and of course the crew up at Messakti Beach bar for making the tastiest fruit salads!!!
Here’s to next time!
The 2019 Ikaria Surf & Acroyoga camp will go down in history considering everything we did in 6 days! Surfing, yoga, dancing, falling, partying, laughing, healing and loving! We couldn’t fit them all into a single video so here’s a snapshot of why Ikaria was our favourite destination this summer 🌊🏄🏻♂️🌊🏄🏻♀️🌊
Huge thanks to Ikaria Surf School / Greece for their love and support, and everyone who made this such a fun experience!
It was only at the last minute that we spotted the wild horses by the side of the road. Enough to make an epic ride down the newly paved hairpins of Mount Olympus even more awesome…
While Freeboarding has been around for a while now, it’s never really grabbed mainstream attention, for a variety of reasons depending on who you talk to. The purists say it’s too much like snowboarding and not similar enough to downhill skating, where higher speeds and full body participation play a major role in defining the sport. Others say it’s just a style thing. Whatever your cup of tea might look like, I can only tell you what it felt like while I filmed Lazaro sliding down the powder pavement, around the corners and precariously close to the edge of the turns. Hanging out the side of the car, one hand was on the roof rack while the other one holding the camera had gone completely numb from the cold. Still, watching Lazaro switch between regular and goofy, adjusting his speed coming into the hairpins, the whole while keeping his balance perfectly aligned with the akward looking wheel setup was fascinating. Admittedly I had never filmed it before, and probably only seen a freeboard up close a couple of times, so there was a uniqueness factor to the whole thing, but throw the scenery and the horses into the mix and my heart was melting by the time my fingers regained feeling later on in the refuge.
If you freeboard in Greece or want to get started talk to the boys from NGR (North Greece Riders) for info on spots, boards and maybe a few tips.
This video was filmed on the West side of Mount Olympus by the KEOAX military ski facility.
Special thanks to Lazaros Kotakidis for shredding and Giannis Giannopoulos for the nifty driving skills.
Mount Olympus Splitboarding Camp 2019 was a great introduction to both splitboarding and mountain safety. Over two days we experienced a little bit of everything. From a sprinkle of fresh snow to blue skies and from spring slush to icy climbs. Ideal conditions for getting used to the equipment and gaining an appreciation of the unpredictability of the mountains.
Day 1 was all about getting to know the boards, going through ascent techniques like proper strides and kick turns, using batons and changing our bindings to fit the slope. We also went through a brief avalanche equipment training course just to get a feel for the reality of avalanche danger. *This is not a certified avalanche safety course – If anyone out there wants to get involved in ski mountaineering or splitboarding we strongly recommend attending an official mountain safety course.
We got to Migotzidis Refuge at the top of the KEOAX ski lift area, currently used by the military for training purposes, but is also open to the public for a small fee on select days throughout the year. After a quick snack we headed back down through the Xero-un-lucky Gully down to the base near the cars. On the way we stopped to do a couple of avalanche scenarios with the team, and dig a profile to explain more about snow layers.
Day 2 – The target was to reach the second tallest peak in Greece – Skolio 2,911m. Due to icy conditions and an increase in wind at higher altitudes however, we stopped short of Agios Antonios Refuge and returned down the same route as the day before. Playing it safe on the mountain should always be number one priority, and turning back was an important lesson in mountaineering, not to be underestimated.
The team arrived back at Olympus Lodge Hostel safe and sound and with big smiles on everyones faces. Greece has an incredible potential for ski mountaineering and splitboarding, with an almost endless mountainous terrain, even on the islands, it’s a blank canvas with plenty left to discover.
Thanks to Pitenis Siokas and Gerasimos Avramidis for the valuable lessons on safety and risk management, MicroXtreme for the rental boards and Splitboard.gr for the extra rental boards, Olympus Lodge for keeping us warm and fed, and Odyssey Campers for the extra wheels.
If you’re interested in joining next year’s Splitboard camps let us know by sending us a message. If you’re interested in venturing up into the mountains on your own make sure you have the right gear, and know how to use it. We recommend attending an official avalanche safety course before going out there without a guide. Play safe. Have fun.
Finally, special thanks to everyone who made our first Splitboard Camp one of the best things we’ve done all winter! You guys (and girl) rock!
The first official Igloo Experience in Greece couldn’t have been a better meeting for aspiring eskimos! Igloos, Snowboards, kids, dogs, food by the fire and plenty of snow made this event one to remember. Wether you had lived in n ice cave in Siberia or had never spent a night out in nature these two days of outdoor living in Vasilitsa turned everyone into certified ice architects. Getting to snowboard down one of our four different jump lines was just the icing on the cake. Choosing wether to go over the fireplace or through the ice palace was the only difficult decision you had to make all weekend.
Our Igloo building seminar helped everyone produce some amazing results. From the small two person igloos to the fortress like structures big enough to host a party in, igloos just kept popping up all over the place. We learned how to cut blocks, stack them to create a dome, and finish off the interior to make it nice and smooth. With the help of hot rocks from the fireplace everyone managed to have a good night’s sleep and wake up energised for an epic snowboarding session the next day.
Congratulations to all Snowmen and Snow-women for building one of Greece’s coolest little villages ever! #vasilitsamanicsidevillage
Special thanks to Fuit Art Cafe for sponsoring the event, and to the Fasolia, Zografos and Avramidis families for joining us in the festivities.
If you’re interested in joining next year’s Igloo Experience send us an email or message us on Instagram or Facebook.
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Take a Virtual 360 Degree Tour of the Village in the video below: