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!
Most people know Greece for its amazing beaches, delicious food and smashing plates. What you might not know is that there is an epic winter playground hidden away in its many mountains. This film follows the journey of Themistocles Lambridis through the Greek mountains over two seasons, making new friends, exploring the unknown side of this culture and uncovering some of Greece’s best kept secrets.
Music by Imam Baildi, 1000MODS, Planet of Zeus, the Velvoids, Mary’s Flower Superhead, Afrodyssey Orchestra, Black Hat Bones, The Killer Seas, Wisdom, Themistojesus, Souleance, Wild Kitten, Whereswilder, Chinese Basement, 63 High, Los Tre, Dirty Fuse, Last Drive, Hat Trick
Featuring: Spiros Badios, Vasilis Koutoumatsiotis, George Chalkias, George Ouzounis, Gerasimos Avramidis, Themistocles Lambridis, Dimitris Maniatis, Vasilis Karageorgiou, Mike Styllas, Nikolas Plytas, Vasilis Koutlemanis, Miltos Tzimas, Vasilis Tsipos, Christian Manousaridis, Raymond Prentice, Tasos Takolas, Spiros Bellonias, Mikka Nikkanen, Dimitris Liossis, Antonis David, Daniel Petrov, Dimitris Dimitriadis, George Felekis, Alex Panagakos, Giannis Panagakos, Alexandros Aspromougos, Giorgos Priftis, Kostas Sirios, Jason Siadimas, Rodrigo Valsamis, Stelios Danourdis, Vaggelis Martinos, Babis Tsiros, Dimitris Tsiros, Kapetan Garidas, Eva Patapatiou, Dimitris Pappas, Konstantinos Tzirvelakis, Yiaggos Pappas, Konstantinos Karmas, Marios Karpouzas, Christos Karpouzas, Nick Dimitriaids, Christos Boukoros, Trantafylos Triantafylou, Konstantinos Lyketsos, Giannis Kotileas, Ivan Furkov, Leonidas Spiropoulos, Aristides Vergos, Alex Nikoletopoulos, Apostolos Dianelos, Alexis De Tarade, Antoine Baduel, Anto Brotto, Remy Barreyat, Mike Handford, Jess Oundjian, Giannis Papachristou, Christos Makridis, Giannis Sampson, Teo Galinidis and more…
Directed by: Themistocles Lambridis Colorist: Dimitris Lambridis Sound Design: Joe Hudson Edited by: Themistocles Lambridis, Spiros Badios
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I knew this day was coming, but when we finally unpacked the car at the bottom car park it hit me. I was about to climb Mt Olympus man! I was petrified, but Billy and Chalkias were with me so I played it cool. The plan was to hike to the first refuge, camp out there for the night, and then head to Kakalos refuge the next morning, where hot meals and warm beds would be awaiting our arrival.
3 hours later we arrive at Petrostrouga refuge. We were toasty warm from walking and the sun was out, this was looking pretty cozy after all. The beds were pretty sad looking but you can’t complain when you’re not paying a cent to stay I guess. Only the emergency shelter was open, so luxury wasn’t really a priority anyway. The days were now getting longer and longer as summer approached. We filled the wood stove with some branches and got comfy before night fall.
When we finally started burning the wood, we noticed there was a whole lotta smoke, and not really any heat coming out. We were so tired it took us a couple of minutes to discern that the log burner had been jammed with soggy and sappy wood from the previous lodgers, and was now huffing out pure smoke! We quickly opened all the doors and windows, but it had gotten really intense, so we all left the room for a minute or two while it mellowed off.
That night was cold as f.
With the first morning light we got up and out into the sun. By 10am the heat waves were blasting and it was almost toasty again. Greek sun they say. After a little pow wow with Nick Dourlios, another documentary maker that was hiking to the top the same day, the three of us set off and up in to the trees.
We would hike for 3 straight hours before reaching the tree line. That’s where the wind picked up and we started to feel how tired we were. I’d guesstimate we had about 35 kg on our backs, plus a tripod, crampons, ice axes etc. And we still had almost 2 hours to go.
Just before the ascent on the final wall before the plateau is a 30-40m walk along a super narrow ridge called “the neck” (ο λαιμός). This is really the only part of the ascent that’s pretty exposed, and at the sight of it I could feel my heart start to beat faster. Either side was sheer drop. Billy had already gotten to the end by the time it was my turn, which was usually the case as I had to pack and unpack camera gear so I could get some shots while climbing. I stepped into the footprints made by anyone who’d been up the previous days, and kept my focus on each next step, trying not to look down.
After a couple more stops to catch our breath and regain our manhood, we finally made it to the refuge, where we were greeted with hot tea and food. I couldn’t believe how close I came to turning back, I would of been pretty pissed off if I hadn’t gone the whole way up.
The next few days saw the arrival of several groups of hikers, climbers and some more of the snowboard crew we were expecting. Gerasimo, Sporos, Papachristou, Christo, Mario and Dimitri. We had already spent a couple days digging a little pump track around the refuge, nothing super fancy, but just enough to keep us warm and productive. So after the boys settled in, we strapped in and hit the park.
Yep, we were on Mt f-ing Olympus and we were hitting the park! haha. mission accomplished. but there was more. Mike Stylas took us on a couple good hikes to check out the surrounding basin, and DAMN is there a lot of terrain here! In every direction, its crazy. The days were numbered though and we knew we had to keep our energy for the hike out.
The last night we were there Mike put the three of us in his tent because the refuge was overcrowded. It was out on the precipice overlooking the entire valley to the South, the middle of the horseshoe sort of thing. Before heading to bed though someone (me) decided it would be a good idea to go up for a night ride. At first Billy was the only one who seemed keen so we packed the hip flask and started getting our stuff together, when all of a sudden the whole crew seemed to wanna join in.
It was the last night of the season. Everyone knew it. No one wanted to leave, or let go of winter. So we grabbed it by the balls, and hiked into the darkness.
The next morning came quickly. We woke up and shifted our tired asses out of the tent. I had almost forgotten we were camping so close to a very big drop, and all of a sudden I was awake! We gathered our gear, said our goodbyes to the mountain, the refuge, and stocked up on selfies before hitting the road.
It took us the better part of 4 hours to make it down to Prionia at the base of the valley. My legs felt like concrete. Fuck. It’s all over. It was a sad moment, but everyone was smiling and having a laugh. Oh yeah that’s right… it’ll be there again next year.