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climbing mount olympus, greece

Kate and Andrew at the Decision Point (Mt Olympus)
Day 16-17: Hey folks, we climbed Mount Olympus (Home of the Gods) and have the pictures to prove it!

After a late lunch at Litochoro, the nearest town of substance, we drove up to the trailhead for Mt Olypmus at Pironia, about 11km inland from Litochoro. Our departure time was 4pm.

We tackled Mount Olympus, as many people do, in two days. The first day was a walk up from Pironia to the hut which goes by the inauspicious name of “Refuge A”. The trail to Refuge A rises around 900m from Pironia over 6km, taking around 2.5 hours.

Forest on way up to Refuge AThe trail starts in a picturesque forest and then tracks to the right of one of many narrow gorges in the mountains surrounding Mount Olympus.

Horses working Refuge AThere’s a chance that you will pass or be passed by a team of donkeys and horses which are used to supply the mountain huts.

To The RefugeAlong the trail to Refuge A there are occasional (reassuring) signs pointing you in the right direction. The trail is, however, well-trodden with day trippers just going as far as the Refuge, and there is no chance of getting lost. The Refuge that we were heading for was clearly visible above us and to the left about 45 minutes before we arrived there. (Look for a pointed roof and some picket fencing.)

The incredible Refuge AThe Refuge itself, at an altitude of around 2000m, is a marvel. If we hadn’t encountered similarly well-organised huts for hikers in Norway then it would have come as a complete surprise. It was professionally run and with a kitchen turning out simple but nutritious food to sustain us on the journey.

No hiking boots are allowed inside - you change your boots for slippers provided at the door. Kate was also instructed by a staff member that there was to be “No sacks on the beds.” The reference was to Kate’s backpack, however it did cause a doubletake.

Dinner was served until 9pm and lights out at 10pm - not a moment too soon after a tough walk uphill.

Sunrise at Refuge AThe following morning it was an early rise at 6am. We cleared the sleep from our eyes and walked outside to see the sun rising over the Agean Sea to the east, beyond Litochoro. A quick breakfast, and we were back on the trail by 7am.

Follow the E4 SignsThe main trail up the mountain is known as E4 and is marked accordingly. Once again, the path is reasonably clear. You can ask to see the scale model at Refuge A which was very helpful in getting it straight in our minds.

Early Ascent from Refuge AThe path from Refuge A starts out though sparse pines. Enjoy this while you can because thereafter…

View Back Towards Kaki ScalaJust following a turnoff to another of the Refuges, it takes a turn to the right and follows just beneath a ridgeline all the way to the top. This difficult section is known as Kaki Scala, a narrow path, through scree and shale, straight up.

View from Decision Point to MytikasAfter about an hour on Kaki Scala, you reach a peak, where you can take a very well-deserved break, and make a decision whether you want to strike out to the right for the highest point on Mount Olympus, Mytikas (2918m). To get there, it’s about 45 minutes, including going by hands and feet over loose scree in the final ascent.

View from Decision Point to SkolioWe took one look at Mytikas and then chose the popular alternative, to take a left turn and walk 20 minutes to the second highest point, Skolio (2911 metres). After the rigours of Kaki Scala, this was a relaxing stroll.

Andrew pointing back to MytikasSkolio is possibly the best place to look back at Mytikas and the cliff rim. I’m pictured here pointing back to Mytikas, with the “decision point” from which we came to my right.

Kate signing the visitors register at SkolioBelieve it or not, there also a visitors register to sign to record the date of your achievement. Kate took great pleasure in doing this.

Descending after Kaki ScalaAfter enjoying the view, as they say, it’s all downhill from there. Downhill is possibly even more of a challenge as it is harder to ignore the fact that you are teetering on precipices.

We were back at Refuge A by 12.30pm, making it a 5.5 hour return journey to the summit of Mount Olympus, including half an hour or so up top.

After a quick bite for lunch, it was back on the trail to return to Pironia - another 2.5 hours of increasingly pleasant walking until we made it back to the car park at the trailhead by 4pm.

All in all, Mount Olympus is quite an achievement - climbing and then descending 2000 metres within 24 hours. We’re proud to say that we did it!

Photos here come from Kate’s weightless Canon Ixus digital camera which we packed for the hike in a moment of weakness - leaving my digital SLR behind.

Accommodation summary (Refuge A)
Dorm room, shared bathroom: US$28
In a few words: Location, location, location
Rating: 9


Comments

Comment from Judith Long
Time: 13 July 2007, 3:45 am

Hi Kate & Andy
I am following your blog with interest. Just in case no-one else has told you it was featured in yesterdays Green Guide supplement in The Age. I could not find it in the online Age though.

Comment from andrew
Time: 14 July 2007, 7:04 am

Hi Judith. Thanks for the tip off! It’s good to know that Melbourne best (only) broadsheet has taken an interest. We will try to track it down.

Pingback from the monastries of meteora
Time: 15 July 2007, 1:36 am

[…] retrospect, this was probably not the best place to visit after climbing Mount Olympus the previous day, our aching calves reminded […]

Comment from Trevor Cook
Time: 15 July 2007, 7:17 pm

Very cool

Pingback from Veggie Friendly » Blog Archive » Olympus Restaurant -Litohoro (Greece), Taverna, VVV
Time: 17 July 2007, 8:50 pm

[…] is a pretty town at the foot of Mount Olympus. It’s the base camp for climbers and a ski resort in winter. In the 38 degree Greek summer, it combines the air of an alpine […]

Pingback from Veggie Friendly » Blog Archive » Refuge A Hostel - Mount Olympus, Greece, Hut Food, VV
Time: 18 July 2007, 11:55 am

[…] a youth hostel in a capital city. But like in Norway, when we pushed open the small wooden gate of Refuge A on Mount Olympus we were greeted by a charming wooden chalet, reception desk, and […]

Comment from Klaas and Jose
Time: 24 July 2007, 12:19 am

Hi Kate and Andrew,
Just visited your site, hope you remember us from the summit of Mt Skolio(Olympos). Unfortunately we had to return to Holland for various reasons.
Hope you have a good trip!
Regards, Klaas and Jose.

Comment from suze
Time: 25 May 2008, 11:31 pm

Great ifo, thanx. Just wondering how you got around > by public transport ? Did you climb down the mountain and reach meteora all in 1 day ?
Or how did you do this ?
Abd how much time did you need to get from athens to Lichoro ?
Thanks alot !!

Comment from suze
Time: 25 May 2008, 11:39 pm

Ps I hope you’ll be able to remember such a small detail of your trip. Compliments on the website !

Comment from Dan Mirea
Time: 31 May 2008, 12:12 am

Hi, Kate & Andrew!

I intend to climb the Olympus sometime between June, 15 and June,19 in just one day. with the night before spent in Lithoro. Please, tell me if that’s possible, because from your beautiful presentation I didn’t find out the total duration of the trip.
Thanks. Dan

Comment from andrew
Time: 31 May 2008, 6:20 pm

Hi Dan. Yes, I think it would be possible if you are fit and start early. You can stop for lunch at Refuge A. Good luck!

Comment from GB
Time: 8 July 2008, 5:09 am

Hi there. I am wondering how hard this is to do for someone who is in good physical shape but does not have climbing experience per se (save for some hikes)? What equipment is needed for a mid-Septmember ascent? Thank you! Great post!

Comment from CG
Time: 18 November 2008, 3:22 am

What is the rush? You can walk all the way from Litochoro to the summit via the gorge and it is really brilliant. There is much more to Olympus than the summits. My girlfirend and I did it in May carrying rucksacks and tents cold weather gear etc since we camped at the refuge. We started early just after dawn had a lengthy lunch and siesta after Prionia and got to the refuge around 19:30. Next day we did Mytikas which raised a certain amount of tension since there was a very steep snow field to cross above an avalanche chute itself leading to a lot of nothing (I am a little nervous of steep snow after a glacier fall a few years ago). The final approach to the summit is a scramble. It does not require any actual climbing moves but did have a lot of small loose scree on top of generally sound rock. If you take care not to slip on the loose it is not a problem. The worst place only really became apparent on the decent (we retraced our route up) and was not actually difficult but it was clear that a slip on the loose stuff would include a free flying lesson. For British readers I would say it is about as difficult as the Cullin ridge between Sgurr Dearg and its ajoining peaks either side (excluding the in pin) only shorter. We stayed at the refuge an extra night and spent the next day round the other side of the mountain which was great but many routes were closed by deep snow. A note on the snow. By May it is melting and in one gully it is perfect firm stuff you could cut steps in and the next knee deep slush. We didn’t take axes and crampons which by chance was ok since the snow was too soft and slushy in the places I really would have wanted them. Two weeks before and I bet they were essential. All in all a great trip and all it takes is a long weekend.

Comment from michelle
Time: 30 December 2008, 9:29 am

I’m looking into climbing Olympus in Feb. I hear it is a little more difficult, but doable. Do you know anything about this?

Comment from cg
Time: 20 January 2009, 4:29 am

Michelle, I was never there in Feb, but judging by the amount of snow in May you will need winter climbing gear to reach the actual highest point (Mytikas). As a general rule a scramble in summer is a climb in winter. I would think that summit you reach just before Mytikas would be accessible to a walker equipped with an ice axe, crampons + cold weather gear as there was nothing very steep to deal with (as long as you stay away from the edges). You should pay full attention to the avalanch risk since the route passes numerous avalanch gullies. I certainly would have loved to be there under good hard snow conditions. Do not underestimate the mountain, treat it like a 3000+m alp in winter with a slightly higher avalanch risk and you should be ok.

Comment from jasmine fitzsimons
Time: 28 January 2009, 6:01 am

i think that i would love to live in greece iy looks amazing and i would love to live on mount olympus

Comment from alex chraca
Time: 16 March 2009, 5:30 am

I was wondering if you guys had to make a reservation for Refuge A. Some friends and I are going to be doing this in a couple weeks and any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

Comment from Andrey
Time: 8 May 2009, 7:40 pm

Does somebody know how much is the accomodation per person at the refugee A?

Comment from Kev
Time: 29 July 2009, 4:08 am

Hi. Looks like an extremely picturesque climb. I’m going up with a few friends in August. Does anyone know if you can rely on Refuge A to have spare beds, as I presume you can’t book ahead.

Comment from Hii
Time: 14 January 2010, 5:02 am

So cool! Did you run into Zeus, by any chance?

Comment from Rich T
Time: 15 July 2010, 12:50 pm

Hi Kate and Andrew, I love your site. My family owns a villa in Plaka Litochoro (beaches of Litochoro). It is 20 minutes from the base of the hike. If you are ever in the area or have friends traveling, please tell them to check us out. We are trying to get the word out to hikers about our amazing, oceanfront villa. thanks, rich
villalitochoro.wordpress.com

Comment from kathy
Time: 6 December 2010, 3:19 am

home of the gods(and me)

Comment from dor
Time: 25 February 2011, 2:58 am

Hey,

Do you know if it’s possible to climbe the mountain at the end of April?
thanks

Comment from beth
Time: 16 December 2011, 6:10 am

Please let me know if any age can manage to climb this mountain. Also, I am from an area where I have lived at sea level for years - will I have trouble breathing there? Are there any accomodations which can be made for this.
thank you. I enjoyed your story! What fun!

Comment from Grace
Time: 21 January 2012, 4:28 am

you did well

Comment from Alex
Time: 19 February 2012, 11:57 am

That was amazing

Comment from Alex
Time: 19 February 2012, 12:00 pm

I have alwase loved hiking ever since I was a little kid.
I am doing a research project on mount Olympus.
By the way I am 11 years old

Comment from ODA-11
Time: 3 March 2012, 4:00 am

Doing this hike in May right after Delphi, and right before Sparta. If you can share any tips regarding scenery, or places of interest around the town/mountain, let me know!

well wishes.

Comment from Anna
Time: 14 March 2012, 8:51 pm

Hi, thanks for your great, and detailed, entry for your climb! I don’t have much hiking experience, and am in average physical shape (trying to use this as an opportunity to get fitter!) and have been invited to climb Olympus in late May. Could I ask if you think it would be doable? How hard did you find it/ are you experienced hikers? Thanks very much!

Comment from andrew
Time: 14 March 2012, 9:18 pm

We did it in July. It is tough going in parts but neither of us had done any specific training. A bit of mental toughness certainly helps. But if you allow plenty of time and are of average fitness, it is very doable. Good luck!

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