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How to climb the highest mountain in Greece - Mount Olympus 2918m

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- 5 months traveling in Europe - Greece



To Greece you will surely do three things, they are

1. Enjoy islands’ sun and beaches
2. Look at ancient Greek monuments
3. Drink the famous ice coffee Frappé


If you have done 3 already, what you can do else?

I like mountains of course I will go for hiking. As for which mountain, why not choose the highest of Greece? Challenge yourself and with the beautiful scenery, cool! Although this is the highest mountain in Greece, the mountain is just 2,000 something metres (Even though it is not that high, it can be quite challenging)


The day before I was in Meteroa for a whole day to see the cliff and the monastery. I don’t have plan where to go next but while I knew the existence of Mount Olympus', lastly I went from Thessaloniki to here to climb this.

How to get to entrance of hiking Mount Olympus:

The entrance is located in the Prionia, where there is a parking lot. Most people will drive to here, and then climb 2-3 hours from here to Refuge A (Spilios Agapitos Refuge).

Another way:

Walk from Litochoro to Prionia for 4 hours.

As I do not have car, I could only start from Litochoro. The day before in Meteroa, the next morning (6:45 am) took the bus to Trikala and changed bus to Thessaloniki. While passing by Litochoro I got off form highway. I needed to walk 6km to town of Litochoro. It was a bus stop in going to the town Litochoro near the highway, but the bus frequency was like an hour, so I tried hitchhiking going to the town.

Originally I wanted to put my big backpack just on the side of the road to reduce the weight. When I started packing things, there was a car stopped for me and asked me to ride together to the town.

It usually takes 2 days to go to the summit and the first night was to stay in the middle of the mountain, choices are:

Accommodation:


The first place to stay:

Refuge A (Spilios Agapitos Refuge) (2100 metres), it can accommodate most number of people (110 people) here and it’s a must pass place while you go.

Higher mountains:

Hellenic Hiking Association Refuge (Refuge Giosos Apostolidis) (2697
metres) (100 people)

Refuge C (Christos Kakalos) (2650
metres) (22 people)


Just a few days before I email bothRefuge A and Refuge Giosos Apostolidis if they had vacancy.

Although Refuge A has 110 beds, but he replied me they were full, I replied that I could sleep on the floor since I could only do on that night. He said I could come.
And Refuge Giosos Apostolidis  they  said they had a bed, as I did not know the condition of the path and could I reach there before dawn, I did not reply the email.

First Day:

Litochoro (298 m) -> Prionia (1100 m) -> Refuge A (2100 m)


Litochoro is a small town, the driver rode me to the city center, I began my mountain trip after getting off.

I just used my mobile app to locate where I needed to go. Actually the path was not clear, I went the wrong way at one point. But lastly I reached the real starting point Myloi. From here to Skala is part of the European mountain climbing route E4. E4 starts from Portugal, passing through multiple countries and the final Greek is Cyprus.

Real starting point Myloi in Litochoro

Scenery

E4

You need to cross bridges a lot of times

From Litochoro to Prionia is quite hard as it is up and down and up down. As it is in the forest, so not much scenery can be seen. You will pass by one monastery, and there is another mini church before reaching the monastery.


I thought this was a monastery but its a holy cave

The monastery - Agios Dionysios Monastery



After three hours and 45 minutes I finally reached Prionia car park. Lots of car parked here. Seeing team of 10 people getting ready to start, I preferred eating something before start.


Prionia - Parking lot

Map at Prionia


From this point the scenery along the path was better since it was higher and more open. But the path was only up and up and up.

While starting with the same pace, some people started to walk slow or started to take a rest. As my bag was small, my pace was faster. After some while I surpassed some groups. Actually, within 3 hours you can reach Refuge A. You don’t need to walk so fast but instead you shall enjoy the scenery.

Donkey helping with luggage, of course surcharge is needed

Signage had both English and Greek

Scenery while going to Refuge A

Arriving Refuge A

As I did not have a booked bed, the e-mail said that that night was full. I needed to arrive quickly to see if there any bed left that someone didn't come. After 2 hours 15 minutes, I was in front of the reception in the hut. The reception staff said there were still some places and asked me if I wanted it or not.I think I thought I still had some time to go up to the upper huts. However, the receptionist said there was snow up there and the path was with snow and may be dangerous. She also asked me if I had helmet, I said no, then she said you shall think about it. I was afraid and I stayed there instead. My room had 6 beds, with 3 sets of bunk beds.

There were a lot of young people here today, it shall be school group. There were many hikers came from Bulgaria, they have brought beer with them up to the hut. You could also buy food and drink here, the price of course, will be more expensive than the town. Finally I also ordered a hot chocolate (2.5Eur), my hands got warm with the drink while sitting on a wooden stool.  


Next to me there were father and son from Austria. They really knew how to enjoy themselves by buying white wine and cheese and cracker. They treated us with wine too. We chatted a bit and they were hiking all day today. Apart from Mt Olympus Skala (2866m) and Mytikas (2918m) they also climbed mountains nearby. They told me that last night more people stay here (but I think tonight there was already lot of people), they needed to sleep in the hall on the stool yesterday night.  That night, I also joined the Bulgarian team who danced in the dining room with their traditional dance.

With white wine and my diary

Second day:

Refuge A (2100m) -> Skala (2866m) -> Mytikas (2918m) -> Refuge Giosos Apostolidis (2697m)  -> Refuge C (Christos Kakalos) (2650m) -> Refuge A (2100m)

Sunrise while walking up the hill from the first hut

Scenery after leaving Refuge A


Most people will climb from Refuge to Skala of Mt Olympus and that's it.. It takes 3 hours, first through the jungle, then started to have open area with endless slope. There is nothing to hold while you are walking up. If you have hiking sticks it will be good. It's ok steep but you can put your unused things in Refuge A before climbing up since you will be passing there after reaching the summit. Thus your belonging will be lighter.


Endless going up to Skala

While looking back


Although officially it said you can reach Skala in 3 hours, I just used 1hour34mins. I also asked others have I arrived since it does not look like a summit or a destination there.


At Skala, further point is Mytikas

I just rested a bit and kept continue, goal is going to Mytikas. Although their difference is only 51 metres, people need to go down and then go up, like a curve. You have to use also hands while going to there. Along the path are all irregular rocks with no flat places.



Skala to Mytikas, with marks on the rocks


Feeling afraid while look at this angle?
After 27 minutes, I arrived at the highest point of Mt Olympus Mytikas. With multicolored flags for sure I took some selfie and picture for record.
Encountering other people going up from Refuge Giosos Apostolidis to here, I asked about how's the path. They said ok. Originally my plan was to going back the same way as I came and back to Refuge A. But after hearing the news, I chose to pass through Refuge Giosos Apostolidis and back to Refuge A. Also, if I went the same way back to Skala, there must be a lot of people going towards me in opposite direction.


Arriving at Mytikas!

While I was going down from Mytikas to  Refuge Giosos Apostolidis, there was a family going down too. They had gears - helmet, harness, rope. They clinged together and carefully went down using both hands.

For me, I didn't have any gears. As they walked quite slow I surpassed them in no time. There were some marks on the rock for direction. Actually, the direction is going down but the mark will tell you how to get down easier

The steepness is nearly 90 degree, so it was actually quite dangerous. Following the marks made your path much easier. Sometime if you missed the mark and went down some direction yourself you cannot really find a way going further since no places to step on at all.

While going down there was a place where I could not find the the mark. I did not know how to get down from there. I tried different ways and places and lastly I got the sight of the mark and went to there to continue. In the whole process you needed to fully use both of your hands.
Sometimes I needed to crawl with my tummy facing the sky and used 4 limbs to go forward. The rocks are so undulating. There were also some small stones rolling down. Luckily there were only 3 people above me, I also got further away from them while I climbed down.

After completing the mountain and looking upwards, it was so sheer.

After going down from Mytikas and look back 
After Mytikas the path is comparatively easy with stunning scenery. Passing by Stefani Peak, it was a really big piece of mountain and I felt small under it. Walking further you will pass by two refuge huts which are in higer elevation: Refuge Giosos Apostolidis and Refuge C (Christos Kakalos).

Under Stefani and saw Refuge Giosos Apostolidis

Looking back Stefani, mind-blowing

Refuge Giosos Apostolidis

Refuge C (Christos Kakalos)

I just kept going without stopping. This was a good route and I did not need to hike back the same way I came up, thus I could see more stuff. There were not many people passing by and the path was narrower.


Some ice trapped in the crack

While going back to Refuge A I saw a woman I met in Refuge A. I said to her this morning I went from Refuge A to Skala then Mytikas passing the 2 refugee huts and went to here, she was surprised by my speed.

Lastly I arrived back to Refuge A and rested a bit. Since I wanted to get a free ride, I needed to be hurry going back to the car park to wait for others. I thought there may be some people ahead of me so I could ask them, but there was no one in front of me while I walked down with brisk speed.

Waiting for half an hour in the car park, lastly there was a man coming down. He went to here from Austria with his car. (Again, Austria) He did not know a lot of English, I used body language to let him know I needed a ride and he said OK. And there we went. If I needed to walk back to Litochoro it would be another 4 hours... Taking a car is a better choice since I was tired. After arriving at Litochoro I thanked him and said goodbye and I encountered the father and the son met in Refuge A again. They already changed their clothes and got relax in the cafe. I also ordered a frappe with ice cream. It was so good since I needed some refreshment at that point!

Things got after a hike is always a big reward for ourselves!

After a while, I went to find the bus stop that could go to Thessaloniki, and this was the last stop of my Greece trip.

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