When we decided to hit the most Northern ski field in Greece, we didn’t think we would have to walk the extra mile (literally) just to get there. Apart from the fact that I forgot my Splitboard skins in Thessaloniki and was super annoyed with myself, we then stumbled upon a pretty good size snow drift in the middle of the road up to the resort base. The lifts had seen their final working hour just the week before, but somewhere down the line we heard about the “epic” amount of snow left on the bald mountain, so after failing to get the car through the first of apparently many of these drifts, we parked up and started unpacking our gear.
There’s always that one place you’ve wanted to go check out in winter but never had the time… Well stop thinking about it and get on the next boat, Crete is insane! We met up with the boys and girls running the second Pierra Creta Ski Mountaineering event on Crete’s highest mountain, Psiloritis, and were blown away by this insane mountain in the middle of the Peloponnese. With faces that resemble the alps and what seems like endless runs this hill is a MUST if you ever make your way down.
After the race we headed East to check out another mountain range up in the Lasithi plateau, called Dikti. We were met by friendly locals who were only too eager to accommodate us by feeding us what seemed like a ton of traditionally cooked meat and lots and lots of Raki (local spirit). We had two riding days, which were mostly made up of hiking up and down the mountain as there is no lift access anywhere and the hiking paths are mostly covered during winter. Both days were epic, although our second day was the only day we could actually see what what we were doing, as the fog comes in pretty heavy from time to time.
What can I say, this mountain is probably the best playground I’ve ever ridden in, and for most Greeks is synonymous with shredding trees, steep faces, powder and hitting park, not to mention all the Jagerbombs and Souvlakia you can handle. We’ve spent two pretty long stints up there this season already and boy oh boy did we have a blast! Cooking with gas in Gerasimo’s trailer, hitting the spa at Casa La Mundi, and carving lines ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT!
So we decided to travel North to this tiny little resort with 1 and a half lifts above a town called Kastoria to visit this crew we’d only heard about in fables and dreams… Omihli Crew.
A couple weeks later we returned to this diamond in the rough to attend and ride their first ever slopestyle contest, which was nothing short of a snowboarder’s wet dream: Kickers, rails, punk rock, night sessions and a whole lotta rowdy boys!
Omihli Crew For LiFE!
Helmos is the tallest mountain in the Peloponnese, and home to a ski resort with about 8 lifts. It’s also home to some of the fluffiest powder in the Southern Mediterranean, not to mention some pretty decent raki stands for the apres…
February was a pretty good month here. We got to explore the backcountry with some of the locals, build jumps, hit some street spots and sip hot cacao by the fireplace… NOT.
Alexis De Tarade and a bunch of Frenchies decided to come to Greece for their newest filming project, so we joined forces and got some riding done with Badio catching some decent hangtime over the jumps and street spots.
For more info on the ski resort check out their website – kalavrita-ski.gr/
Parnasso has long been the go-to mountain for most Athenians, which makes it a pretty good hub for the ski and snowboard community. The first time I ever ventured out past the resort boundaries was with George Ouzounis. The whole TTAG project was still in its infancy and I was looking for the unknown and the less-heard-of. What I saw blew me away. A wealth of terrain that rivals any alpine landmass in steepness and contour. The mountain was huge. The ski resort barely covers 10% of the skiable terrain and there was more than plenty of fun ridges and slopes to play on.
Over the course of 2 seasons I made it up a number of times with different crews, took different routes and explored a pretty wide variety of terrain. What really caught my attention after all was said and done was the sense of community on the hill though. Apart from the occasional skier-snowboarder bout, the fact that the hill is almost never packed makes it function like a dysfunctional but loving village. The liftees and the Cat drivers belong to the old system, the public sector and are pretty long standing members of staff. The skiers and snowboarders are also made up mostly of people who have spent a few seasons systematically venting at the staff and administration for the lack of infrastructure, or development of a park and so on. They bicker, but in essence there is a co dependancy that becomes almost romantic through its drama.
Bottom line – Parnasso has huge potential for being more than just a few lift rides and a hot coacoa. There’s a ton of terrain left to explore, and it’s awesome to see people getting out there and doing just that.
Just like a lot of my peers, I grew up in Greece and took the fast train out as soon as I was done with high school. Not without warrant, I mean the education system is pretty confusing at times and the prospect of living on my own in a foreign country sounded damn appealing. After 6 years in the UK I moved to New Zealand, even further away from my home, in search of something more valuable than the urban environment I was used to. I ended up in a village in the mountains, where I went on to spend 5 years connecting with nature in ways I hadn’t been able to until then. I was conditioned to believe that my homeland was just a series of golden beaches and a selection of ouzo. My inclination for the colder climates and mountainous terrain kept me from considering Greece could fulfil these needs in the same way.
In 2014 I happened to meet two of the most influential people with respect to my view on my home. Gerasimos Avramidis and George Ouzounis, two of Greece’s best known snowboarders, showed me around their back yards (Vasilitsa and Parnasso respectively) revealing to me a wealth of landscape and potential I had never dreamed could be found on this tiny speck of land.
TTAG was born. The idea was to make a movie about Greece’s winter landscape and help promote adventure tourism in a country that didn’t even understand what that means. It became apparent pretty quickly that there was a pretty healthy community of mountain lovers and winter explorers already heavily invested in the winter terrain. The government however showed no indication they were about to accept Adventure Tourism as a standalone facet of the industry.
And who am I to tell anyone what to do? Yeah no one really. I just want to spend more time in nature. So here’s my excuse. I hope you enjoy it!