How about climbing the mountain on which the ancient Greek Gods lived? Welcome to Mt.Olympus, (peaks at 2917 – Myticas, first climbed in 1913, and Skolio at 2911m), described by some as the tail end of the Alps. Mt.Olympus creates a natural border between the rugged Greek Macedonia region to the north and the wheat-field rich Thessaly region to the south. Distant views of the Aegean Sea to the east and Albania’s mountains, Italy and the Adriatic Sea to the west complete the panorama. In addition to climbing Greece’s highest mountain, which is mostly a non-technical hike, you also get to visit the country’s best established and protected national park, through which the crystal clear cool waters of the river Enippeas reflect the lovely sunlight.
Large waterproof rucksacks with internal frames, sturdy trekking shoes, walking poles, a head torch, waterproof plus warm clothes, T-shirts, a sleeping bag, sunglasses, sun cream and a water bottle are essential.
Climbers should be both experienced and fit in order to get to the top and the final decision as to whether, and who, is to complete the climb is usually up to the local guide/leader.
Many trips start and end in Litochoro (City of Gods, just south of Katerini on the Aegean Sea). Eastern Mt Olympus (Anatolikos Olimpos) is to the south of Litochoro, however an initial transfer (e.g. to Prionia, wood saws, at about 1000m) can soon take you above the tree line.
The walks initially follow forest paths, however the terrain also contains rocky ridges and a degree of scrambling is essential. Woodland birds and flowers, local wild goats, beech and fir trees and many charming streams are most usually encountered at these altitudes. Refuge A (2100m) can be reached in a few hours and used as an overnight resting place.
From this position it’s possible to reach both the Myticas (a YDS class 3 rock scramble) and Skolio peaks, after first going through Skala (staircase, at 2882m). A side/descending trip to the Plateau of the Muses and the mythical Throne of Zeus (top Greek God in antiquity) at the magnificent 2700m Stefani (Flower Garland Headband) peak leads to Refuge B. This can in turn be used as the starting point for a descent through Enippeas gorge, a visit to the solemn monastery of St. Dionysus and eventually back to Litohoro.
You can also visit the Archeological park and museum at the ancient city of Dion, 15km south-west of Katerini. Ancient play performances at Dion’s restored theatre in August are an integral part of the Olympus Festival. Dion is also the site where Alexander the Great made his sacrifices to the Gods prior to conquering Asia.
Posted : Friday, January 20th, 2012 at 11:00
As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save