3 de febrero de 2011

Greece. Mount Olympus. Day 64

 Day 64:

Views from the refuge

The Team
7:30  We woke up and had a heavy breakfast. Surprisingly for us, the day appeared absolutely cloudless. We had seen a positive forecast for this 23 October, but we didn’t expect that. In a conversation with the guard, she said that climbing Mt. Olympus’ highest point (Mytikas) that day wasn’t a good idea, because we would find so many ice in the top of the peak, which is quite steep. We decided to climb first to Skala point (2.880 m), and then there we could decide between Skolio (2.911 m, an easy and plain peak) or Mytikas (2.918 m). We didn’t see our new greek friends that morning… Where were they??  

Having a rest in the Greek mountains

Kakalos refuge
9:00  We started to walk, carrying light bags. It was sunny, but cool. Although the views over the valley were superb and we were enjoying them a lot, we had 2 hard hours to Skala passage (2.880 m). There, a strong wind surprised us, coming from the north face. We took a look over that isolated face, dark and iced. Not for us… frightening! We talked about trying  (or not) the climb to Mytikas. Ronnie (especially Ronnie!), Adri and me were determined to try it, but Josemi preferred to stay there and wait for us. A clever decision, considering that was his first time in a high mountain. The wind was cold and persistent there, but we felt encouraged when we saw that the path (marked with red points) went through the east side of the mountain, which were sunny and protected from the wind.

Ronnie, with Mytikas behind him!

A look over the north face

The "rescue" team
So we continued moving forward carefully, this time with the help of our hands. The only people we found on the way were some kind of mountain rescue team. But some of them were very clumsy (we didn’t understand that, maybe they were training because some of them were new), and we finally overtook the group. The pass to Mytikas has some tricky points, but it’s quite easy if there is not ice. We found two iced zones, and we took some risk stepping on them witouth crampons or ropes… but is what we decided. It’s always hard to decide to turn back so close from your objective.

The best "path" is easy to find if you follow the red marks

The "rescuers" in one of the trickiest parts, using ropes

Mytikas, top of the Olympus
12:00  Finally, at Mytikas peak (2.918 m). Highest point in Olympus, and by extension, Greece. Impressive views from here. Rewarding feeling. We had a quick meal, while watching the “rescue” team advancing toward us using ropes in the iced zones. Surprisingly, a young couple appeared behind us. 

–“Errhh… Hello!”, I said. 
– “Ohhhh… at last!!! Hi!”, replied the boy. 
–“From where are you coming from??” 
-“Ah, we got lost, we come from Kakalos refuge. It was an awful decision to follow that route… It was hard and risky for us. We climbed with our hands, I dunno how are we here...”.

They were quite tired, and with a scary expression in their faces. I felt that they didn’t enjoy so much the climb… We started the descent just in the moment the mountain group arrived. We were lucky, because they left the ropes put and we (and the young couple) could use them. Easier and safer. Josemi were almost frozen when we met him. Long way down until Zolotas refuge

Skolio peak, and the north face of Olympus

15:00  We recovered energies there, eating a lot. Ronnie showed us all his variety: lutenitza, bulgarian cheese, vegetables… and Rakia, of course!! We ate and drank everything. The rest of the way back to the car was never-ending for our tired legs… In fact, we had made 3.000 meters of height difference today. We were in the car around 20:00, after a very hard journey. But we had work yet: 2 hours and a half drive to Kalampaka (Meteora village). We drove to Larisa, later Trikala and finally Kalampaka. We were lucky to find a cheap hotel (12 € each one, in a 4 people room) one hour before midnight. We had crepes for dinner, and was funny when we had to decide who of us would sleep together (one of the beds was double). Piedra, papel y tijera, and Josemi and Ronnie were the loving couple. 

Adri, in the middle of Mount Olympus

Although absolutely tired, we felt fortunate… happy. We had a great sunny day and we could reach our main objective: the top of the Olympus. All the views had been unbelievable, and we had been walking through amazing spots in the legendary Greek mountain. All had gone nice, very nice!! And we were excited about Meteora... but that had to wait until the next day...
Josemi, in the last kilometers

High On Fire - Snakes For The Divine