Parnassos Mountain Winter Mountaineering Ascent

Located at the center of Greece, Parnassus (Parnassos) is one of the biggest and most beautiful mountains of the country. Its highest part is Liakoura peak at 2.457 m. and Tsarkos (2.415 m.) and Gerontovrahos (2.389 m.) peaks follow.

Mount Parnassus is a great area which extends to the municipalities of Boeotia, Phthiotis and Phocis.

Since 1938 a big part of the forest area of the mountain, has been declared as a National Park, which along with the one on Olympus were the first ones that were established in Greece. The Mountain of Apollo, as it also called, is known from the ancient times, as there are many myths connected to it.

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Sunrise view

Mount Parnassus (Parnassos) is a mountain of limestone in central Greece that towers above Delphi, north of the Gulf of Corinth, and offers scenic views of the surrounding olive groves and countryside. According to Greek mythology, this mountain was sacred to Dionysus and the Dionysian mysteries; it was also sacred to Apollo and the Corycian nymphs, and it was the home of the Muses. The mountain was also favored by the Dorians. It is suggested that the name derives from parnassas, the possessive adjective of the Luwian word parna meaning house, or specifically temple, so the name effectively means the mountain of the house of the god.

For this winter mountaineering ascent, we have decided to follow a rather long but very nice route. Our starting point was the mountain hut Defner (which is located at an altitude of 1.840 m.) and we visited the three main peaks of Parnassos mountain,Liakoura peak at 2.457 m. and Tsarkos (2.415 m.) and Gerontovrahos (2.389 m.). 

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Train Signs
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View of the Ski Center while climbing up
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View of Kelaria
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Cornice

Due to the fact the weather was rather hot, we have started our ascent before sunrise so we could find the snow frozen and hopefully icy. That was indeed a very good choice because we have also had the chance to climb a couloir on the southern side of Gerontovrachos. This couloir was not technically difficult, though a nice cornice was waiting us at the top of the ridge. Nevertheless, with enough experience and a rope (for safety reasons), we have managed to climb the couloir quite easy.

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Ice Axe on duty
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Traversing
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At the end of the couloir with the big cornice
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Rope
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Rope hanging down the couloir

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Just after the couloir

After the fun and entertaining part of climbing up the couloir, we have continue our route towards the first peak of the day. That was the peak of Gerontovrachos, which is located at an altitude of 2.389 meters above sea level. While climbing up, the surrounding views were simply amazing. We could easily see the mountains of Giona, Vardousia, Oiti and even the great Olympus.

Furthermore, with the sun reflections over the icy snow, everything seems even more beautiful and we were lucky enough to take some beautiful photos.

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Climbing Up
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Liakoura Peak as seen from Gerontovrachos
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Tsarkos peak as seen from Gerontovrachos

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Gerontovrachos Peak
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Fellow climbers follow up
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Breathtaking view towards Giona and Vardousia
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Parnassos Ski Centre as seen from above
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Reaching the peak

Once we have reached the peak, we had a rather short break  of 3-4 minutes in order to eat a snack and have some water and of course to enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and mountains.

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Tsarkos Peak
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Alpine camping
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Alpine Camping
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Alpine Camping

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Sun reflection on ice snow

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Footprints

Having reached the first peak of the day (Gerontovrachos) we have followed our route towards Tsarkos and Liakoura and after that our way back was via the Parnassos Ski Resort.

Parnassos Ski Resort

The slopes of Mount Parnassus are composed of two ski sections, Kellaria and Fterolakka, which together make up the largest ski center in Greece. A smaller ski center (only two drag lifts) called Gerontovrahos is across a ridge from Kellaria.

The construction of the ski resort started in 1975 and was completed in 1976, when the first two drag lifts operated in Fterolaka. In 1981 the construction of a new ski area was completed in Kelaria, while in winter season 1987–1988 the chair lift Hermes started operating and connected the two ski areas. Both ski resorts continued expanding and in 1993 the first high-speed quad in Greece was installed, named Hercules. In 2014–2015 two new hybrid lifts were installed along with a new eight-seater, replacing the old infrastructure.

Today the Ski Center operates with 16 lifts, two hybrid ski lifts which combine an eight-seater Cabin and a six-seater chair, an eight-seater Cabin, a 4-seater chair lift, a 2-seater chair lift, 6 drag lifts and four baby lifts. The ski center boasts 25 marked ski runs and about 15 ski routes of 36 km (22 mi) total length while the longest run is 4 km (2 mi).

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Emergency shelter at the highest point of the Ski Resort
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Profitis Elias Chapel

Gerontovrachos

Gerontovrachos is one of the most important winter climbing areas in southern Greece. Modern routes with major technical difficulties coexist with the old classics, giving young mountaineers the opportunity to test their strengths in a very friendly field with easy access and return, minimal objective risks, small expansions, several ropes for company and of course music from the ski resort.

There are around 13 routes of mixed and/or only ice climbing during winter time. Bellow a couple of photos of the north face of the rock.

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Gerontovrachos
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Gerontovrachos

It was a rather long day, and after 8 hours of hiking, climbing and enjoying the beautiful views Parnassos mountain has to offer, we have returned to the mountain hut of the mountain via the most common train starting from the Parnassos Ski resort and ending at the Defner mountain hut.

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arriving to the mountain hut
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Hiking Routes map
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Michalis Defner Mountain Hut

Details of the hike:

  • Location: Parnassos Mountain
  • Starting Point: Defner Mountain Hut
  • Ending Point: Liakoura Peak
  • Trail Signs: Moderate signed path (with snow signs are not easy to be seen)
  • Minimum Elevation: 1.840 m
  • Maximum Elevation: 2.457 m.
  • Elevation Gain: 1.076 m.
  • Total Distance: 14.3 km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Water Features: No (during winter)

Bellow you can see the route we have followed on a map and on 3D:

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Route on the map
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3D view

See previous Hiking and Mountaineering ascents in central Greece region here:

 

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