MOUNT OLYMPUS is definitely the holy grail of skiing and snowboarding in Greece. With only one small ski field that operates a handful of days out of the year, it’s essentially a mountaineering only mountain. There are several refuges that operate throughout the year, with a handful staying open through winter. There are several routes up to the alpine zone, varying in difficulty.
The classic route up to the Muses Plateau that lies beneath the largest open face – Zeus’ Throne, begins at the Gortsia parking lot. The trail up towards the first pit stop – Petrostrouga Refuge is clearly marked in summer and in winter. The Petrostrouga refuge is often closed in winter but has an unlocked emergency shelter room with several bunk beds, ideal for spending the night if the weather turns sour. Following on from there the path continues up through the sub alpine trees to the first open ridgeline where you get a glimpse of the vastness of the mountain. As you continue towards the Throne, you come to one of the most iconic passes on the path – “Lemos” (neck). A knife edge traverse that demands attention and respect in any season. In winter it’s advisable to traverse using crampons if the snow is crusty. It’s not a long passage but will invoke a little vertigo in even the most experienced climbers. Once you’re past Lemos you have to climb the steep wall leading up the to plateau of the Muses. Again crampons are advised especially in the colder winter months. Once you’ve reached the Plateau there are signs that mark the path towards the refuges – Christos Kakkalos and Giorgos Apostolidis, that lie beneath Zeus’ Throne.
The other route is from Prionia, and is significantly steeper. It should take about 3 hours to climb 1000m to your first stop at Spilios Agapitos Refuge (2060m). From there it’s another 2 hours to get to the Plateau, or 3 to climb straight up to Skala peak.
From Athens – head North to Thessaloniki and take the exit towards Litochoro.
From Thessaloniki – Go South towards and follow signs by the road leading to Litochoro.
From Litochoro the road into the National Park are clearly signposted and you can drive in or walk along the E4 trail starting in the town.
Make sure to use the bathrooms at Christos Kakkalos refuge. An unforgettable experience!
We also recommend having lunch or dinner at the Taverna in Prionia, accompanied by a cold and refreshing bath in the Prionia spring.
If you’re heading up to Mt Olympus to go skiing or snowboarding make sure you do your homework. There are tons of amazing places to ride, discover and explore, and depending on the snow you can sometimes ride almost 2000m down from the throne, through the trees. For more information and ski maps check out ROUTE MAPS Ski Mountaineering Map of Olympus.
Remember to always check the weather conditions, take enough water and let someone know you’re out there. Enjoy this beautiful mountain within your own limits.