Mixed and Alpine Climbing in Vardousia Mountain | Aris II 2 M2 – 400m.

Vardousia (Greek: Βαρδούσια) is a mountain in northwestern Phocis and southwestern Phthiotis, Greece. Its highest peak, Korakas (Greek: Κόρακας) reaches 2,495 m (8,186 ft) above sea level, making it the second-tallest summit in Central Greece after Giona. It is a southern extension of the Pindus mountains. It is divided into three main parts: Northern Vardousia, whose highest peak is Sinani at 2,059 metres (6,755 feet), the very steep Western Vardousia, whose highest peak is Soufles at 2,300 metres (7,500 feet), and Southern Vardousia, with the highest peak of Korakas. The whole range measures about 25 kilometres (16 miles) from north to south.

The Vardousia is drained by tributaries of the river Spercheios to the north, the Mornos to the east and south, and the Evinos to the west. The Panaitoliko mountains are to the west, Tymfristos to the northwest, Oeta to the east and Giona to the southeast.

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Gioni Plai as seen from Profitis Elias

 

We have started our travel towards Vardousia early in the morning and our destination point was Athanasios Diakos, a picturesque village lying at the foot of the north side of mount Vardoussia at an altitude of 1.500m, surrounded by a dense forest of fir, plane, chestnut and oak trees. Once we have reached Athanasios Diakos (or Ano Mousounitsa) we drove for another 10 kilometres on a dirt road in order to reach a location called Profitis Elias. This dirt road is in rather good condition and therefore is not difficult to be approached.


See previous winter mountaineering ascent in Vardousia and nearby mountains:


Profitis Elias – Mountain Shelter/Refuge EOOA (Pitimaliko)

We have parked the car within a beautiful pine forest at around noon time and we rapidly got ready with all our equipment for the approach of our climb. The trail path officially starts from Athanasios Diakos and goes through Profitis Elias and ends at the EOOA mountain shelter (refuge) at an altitude of 1.930 meters.

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Winter Hike towards the mountain shelter
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First view to the area of interest – Skorda Pitimalikou
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Winter Hike towards the mountain shelter
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Shepherd’s shelter
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Skorda Pitimalikou
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Alogorachi and Plaka-Piramida
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Winter Hike towards the mountain shelter
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Winter Hike towards the mountain shelter
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Vardousia Mountain Shelter (EOOA)
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View from the entrance of the mountain shelter

Aris II 2 M2, 400 meters – Mixed Climbing

Vardousia mountain is perhaps the most interesting mountain in Greece for winter mountaineering activities, alpine climbs and even steep ice climbing activities. In fact there are numerous of alpine climbing routes such as the following ones

  • Vardousia – Gidovouni
  • Vardousia – Gioni To Plai
  • Vardousia – Korakas
  • Vardousia – Koryfi 2437
  • Vardousia – Pano Psilo
  • Vardousia – Pyramida
  • Vardousia – Skorda Mousounitsas
  • Vardousia – Skorda Pitimalikou
  • Vardousia – Skoufia

The route we have selected to climb is located in the Skorda Pitimalikou area, where there are plenty of other mixed climbing routes.

 

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Mixed Climbing Route: Aris M2 400 m.

Pitch 1 (30 meters | M2)

As soon we have reached the base of Aris, we search for the best location in order to create the first solid belay. Our first belay, consisted out of three solid points and therefore we were ready to start our ascent.

Aris, is a rather complicated line and this is due to the high alterability this line shows based on the snow coverage. This year, in Greece we have had very few snowfalls and therefore the climb was much more demanding and definitely with more demanding mixed climbing parts.

Pitch 1, is about 30-35 meters long and the climber can use gear (mainly nuts) for protection. The Crux of this pitch can not be fully protected, but with steady progress the climber can overcome its difficulty. The difficulty of the crux is rated as M2.

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Starting point of Aris | R0
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The Crux of Pitch 1 | M2
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The Crux of Pitch 1 | M2
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Mixed Climbing
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The Crux of Pitch 1 | Mixed Climb | M2
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Just after the Crux
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R2 – Belaying the rest of the climbers

Pitch 2 & Pitch 3 ( 60° |  150 meters)

As soon the rest of the fellow climbers reached R1, we soon moved on with the climb. Pitch 2 and Pitch 3, were an easy snow climb on a couloir that was about 50° to 60°. There were a couple of small rocks that we used slings as protection, but also some snow pickets, and specifically the Olympus Snow Pickets.

This section of Aris, is quite easy for experienced climbers and we did not have any difficulty. Therefore, we have reached very soon R3 where we came across a solid 6 to 7 meters slab.

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R2
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Snow Couloir
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Snow Couloir
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Snow Couloir
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Snow Couloir
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Snow Couloir
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Snow Couloir
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Snow Couloir

Pitch 4 (30 meters | M1+)

As soon we reached R3, we came across a vertical slab of about 6 to 7 meters. Usually, when there is enough snow coverage, this is a steep snow couloir, but due to the low snow coverage, the entire slab was exposed.

Due to the fact we realised that this slab was rather dangerous to climb, we looked around and we have noticed a couple of pitons on the left (east) side. Therefore, we decided to go an explore towards that direction and actually, we came across even more pitons.

This new passage was a M1+ passage, though it was a bit exposed and therefore the lead climber should be quite careful with every move. Furthermore, with the few snow on the route, we had to “attack” the grass, instead of the snow and/or ice.

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Starting the small traverse prior the M1+ section
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small traverse prior the M1+ section
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ready to enter the M1+ section

Pitch 5 (80 m.)

As soon we overcame the second difficult passage of Aris, the route becomes again a rather easy couloir of 50° up to the ridge that is located under the peak of Skorda Pitimalikou. The ascent offered a nice nevé and once we reached the top we enjoyed the beautiful western Vardousia (Soufle, Alogorachi, Plaka-Piramida), Tymfristos and even Agrafa mountains.

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Almost at the top of Aris
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Almost at the top of Aris
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Almost at the top of Aris
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La Sportiva Spantik and Cassin Alpinist Tech
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Skorda Pitimalikou
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Alogorachi – Plaka Piramida – Gidovouni
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Skorda Pitimalikou

Recommended Gear

For this multi-pitch climb, I used the following gear:


Details of the Climb

  • Location: Vardousia Mountain
  • Starting Point: Profitis Elias
  • Route: Aris
  • Total length: 400 m.
  • Difficulty: II 2 M2
  • When to Climb: Winter
  • Water Features: None

See previous winter mountaineering ascent in Vardousia and nearby mountains:

3 thoughts on “Mixed and Alpine Climbing in Vardousia Mountain | Aris II 2 M2 – 400m.

  1. Wow, I didn’t know that these kind of conditions excist in Greece. I love to hike and this landscape is really inviting. I’ll keep this in mind for the future. Thanks for a great post.

    Like

    1. Thanks for stopping by and reading this post.

      Indeed, in Greece, generally, you can find some good winter mountaineering conditions. Though this year we had a poor winter.

      On the other hand, Vardousia and especially the western section of the mountain offers some really nice hikes for spring, summer and autumn.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Hiking in Artemisio Mountain – Artemisio Arête – Post Covid-19 Lockdown – Olympus Mountaineering

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