Time has come for the Autumn ascent. After the initial planning, it was that time of the year to visit again the Mountain of the Greek mountains, Olympus.
Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and the second highest mountain in the Balkans. It is located in the Olympus Range on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, between the regional units of Pieria and Larissa, about 80 km (50 mi) southwest from Thessaloniki. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks, deep gorges, and exceptional biodiversity. The highest peak Mytikas, meaning “nose”, rises to 2,918 metres (9,573 ft). It is one of the highest peaks in Europe in terms of topographic prominence.
Olympus was notable in Greek mythology as the home of the Greek gods, on the Mytikas peak. Mount Olympus is also noted for its very rich flora with several species. It has been a National Park, the first in Greece, since 1938. It is also a World’s Biosphere Reserve.
Climbing Mount Olympus is a non-technical hike, except for the final section from the Skala summit to the Mytikas peak, which is a YDS class 3 rock scramble. It is estimated that 10,000 people climb Mount Olympus each year, most of them reaching only the Skolio summit.
For this ascent, we decided to follow the route from Refuge Krevatia, to Barbalas peak via Papa Rachi and the final alpine path towards the Refuge Apostolidis. Bellow a diagram of the route we followed:
This is a route following the North Face Ridge. It is 8,6 kilometres and within this distance one should cover 1.700 meters of altitude. We have managed to cover this distance in about 5 hours and 45 minutes with only a couple of stops. Though, this route has some small climbing involved and is not recommended for beginners.
Refuge Krevatia – Barbalas
We started at 6.30 in the morning, while the sky was still covered from stars. Hence, our head lamps where on and with slow pace we moved towards the first peak of the day, Barbalas peak 1.842 meters. Trail was well signed and clean from bushes and therefore it was a great morning trek. We have also seen the sunrise from Barbalas peak.
Barbalas – Papa Rachi
Having reached the Barbala peak, we had a small break for a snack and refreshments while observing the high peaks of Olympus mountain, such as Stefani and Profits Ilias. Although the view from that point was beautiful, we had to move on quickly towards the Papa Rachi. This was not a very steep trail, but it was equally stunning.
Alpine Area of the Krebatia – Barbalas – Papa Rachi – Plateau Mouson route
One of the most beautiful part of this route, was the last 2,6 kilometres. It was a pure alpine rocky route with a lot of rock scrabble that in parts was a bit exposed as well.
Arriving at the Plateau Mouson
After almost 6 hours on the trail, we have finally reached the plateau of Mouson. There one can find 2 refuges (C. Kakalos, Apostolidis) and of course the magnificent Throne of Zeus (Stefani). This is perhaps one of the nicest spots of Greece and for sure in the top-list of the world.
Towards the Top of Greece. Mytikas Peak 2.918 m.
Once we have reach the Mouson Plateau, we had a short break of 30 minutes and then we soon moved towards the couloir (louki) of Mytikas. Climbing to the top is not very technical, but for the reason is relatively exposed, one has to be concentrated on how to climb up or climb down. This route is a YDS class 3 rock scramble.
At the Top of Greece. Mount Olympus. 2918 m.
Camping at Mouson Plateau
Having achieved our ascent to the highest point of Greece and second highest point of the whole Balkan region, we moved back towards the Mouson Plateau where we decided to camp for the night and stair to the 100% clear night sky.
The morning after
Descent towards Gortsia via Petrostrougga
Maps and Technical Information