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Mount Olympus

Climbing Mount Olympus

Mount Olympos, home to the major Greek Deities of antiquity, is the tallest mountain in Greece. Many people each year choose to climb the 2,919 metres to its summit, though this is no easy feat. The Olympus range in which the highest peak is located is a natural playground for climbers and hikers, with over fifty peaks, deep gorges and a whole array of beautiful vistas full of fascinating wildlife.

A number of hiking trails run by Mount Olympus, including the long-distance E4 European path that runs west of Litochoro and through Enipeas’ Gorge. There is also a National Path, 02, which heads south from the peaks towards Pelion. Mountaineers heading up Mount Olympus itself will usually begin their trek in Litochoro, or start up at Prionia, a waypoint that can be reached by road. Alternative starting points are also found in Dion or Petra.

If you are not an experienced mountaineer the ascent should not be attempted in the winter months. It should be noted that even summer hikes, between early June and late September, require a fairly high level of fitness. Though if you are well-prepared, this can be a very enjoyable climb, affording spectacular views.

For the full experience of the walk, though a full-on challenge, the delightful scramble up past Ayíou Dhionysíou Monastery is well worth the extra effort involved and will take around 4 hours. From Prionia it will then take another three hours or so to get to Refuge A. The path is extremely clear and it would be rather difficult to get lost. As you continue upwards, be sure to take in the spectacular views out over the Enipeas Canyon and beyond.

Note that Refuge A is the last water before the summit, so make sure you stock up and bring enough with you to make it to the top of the peak. After leaving the tree-line behind you, you will have several options as to your route. If you turn right at the signposted fork you will be on the Zonária trail and will have the option after another three quarters of an hour or so to ascend to the highest peak, Mýtikas, by the steep, tough and rock-strewn Loúki couloir on which you will have to look out for rock falls.

Most people will ascend via the safer Kaki Skála route. The first hour or so of this route is a bit of a trudge up between the surrounding peaks. But at the end of that section you will find yourself on the summit ridge between the peaks of Skolió and Skála. A precipitous drop ahead of you plunges 500ft into the Kazánia chasm so great care is needed for this section. Be careful!

The final stage leading you along just shy of the top of the ridge is aptly named the ‘evil stairway’. Paint splashes have been used to mark the way. Do not think that this is an easy hike – this last section is a tough scramble and definitely not for anyone who is scared of heights! Vertigo would be a major hazard in the conditions you will find up there.

Those that make it up to the summit should feel elated to have finished the fairly arduous climb! They have reached the legendary home of the gods. To find out if the gods and goddesses still live there, you will have to attempt the climb for yourself.