Winter time in Greece is a very interesting season. Weather conditions can vary from mild to extremely harsh. For this weekend, our initial plan was to visit Vardousia mountain for a winter mountaineering ascent, though the extreme winds (more that 80 km/h) forced us to change our plans. Due to the fact we wanted to try something new, we have decided to visit the splendid Via Ferrata “Arma” which is located on Mount Parnitha.
Mt. Parnitha is located in Attiki province, 25km N from the city of Athens.It is one of the 4 mountains(the others are Immitos, Penteli and Aigaleo) that surround the circular plain,in which the city of Athens is built. Mt Parnitha is the talllest and more impressive among the mountains that surround Athens.
see previous climbs on Mount Parnitha here:
Hiking is a very popular activity in Parnitha. Two climbing associations, along with the Forest Service of Parnitha have created a dense network of trails, that covers the whole mountain range. Numerous paths pass along springs, thick forests and pastures. There are many options, according to the altitude difference that someone intends to cover (0 -800m.), the distance (500-5,000m.) and the time needed (30΄- 6 hours). Several routes give the opportunity to observe different vegetation types: firs, pines, oaks, junipers, plane-trees, phrygana.
The most important trails are indicated either by simple red signs on rocks and trees or by red tapes or finally, by special signs for each path, such as red triangles, red squares, yellow rhombs etc. In this way, following the same shape and colour of the signs, one can find the path and follow it to its end.
A via ferrata (Italian for “iron path”, plural vie ferrate or in English via ferratas) is a protected climbing route found in the Alps and certain other locations. The via ferrata found on Mount Parnitha is called “Arma” and the starting point is nearby “Moni Kliston” monastery. For the most part, it is the route that climbers have been following year after year in order to access the climbing barracks.
At many exposed locations, ropes are mounted on the rock and often fitted with mechanical plugs, which offer relative security. The path passes through cliffs that are fully exposed in the void. What makes it special is the direct contact with the special nature of the imposing cliff. Two small traverses which need via ferrata gear, offer the first short via ferrata sensation. The path rises up the slope with relatively easy climbing, but minimal security and the scree is quite loose. It is one of the most exposed parts of the route and needs special attention.
Once we have reached the highest point of Arma the wind was blowing hard and harsh. Therefore we moved vey fast on the Arma plateau towards the next part of via-ferrata. From there follows a downhill with a lot of loose scree and minimum safety (old ropes) that requires extra attention and then the traversing trail at the base of the impressive North face of Arma. On that point, there is the most interesting section, the famous ridge, which is a via-ferrata equipped and exposed passage on a narrow edge. Bellow that edge there is the void and therefore the climber should be focused. The path continues towards the base of Spilia Sarri of the largest and most imposing vertical cliff of Attica, 150 meters high.
The 6 km of the Via-Ferrata route is completed at the base of the Goura Gorge near the cave of Pana where it crosses other trail paths. From that point and on we have another 4 km of normal hiking till we reach the start/end point.
The Via Ferrata Arma in Parnitha is one of the best options a hiker/climber has for a Sunday morning. It is easy to access, is not far away from Athens city centre and is definitely a very exciting route to follow. Although this via-ferrata is not for unexperienced hikers/climbers, it is not very difficult to accomplish. Therefore, with the help and guidance of experienced climbers one can enjoy this via-ferrata without real technical difficulties.
It is important to inform that a climbing harness, 2 screw-lock carabiners, slings and eventually a helmet are mandatory.
Details of the climb:
- Location: Parnitha Mountain
- Starting Point: Moni Kleiston
- Ending Point: Moni Kleiston
- Trail Signs: Well signed path
- Minimum Elevation: 557 m
- Maximum Elevation: 828 m.
- Total Distance: 7 km
- Difficulty: Moderate for experiences / Difficult for beginners
- Water Features: No
see previous climbs on Mount Parnitha here: