- Days to hike: 2
- Total ascent: ~1800 m
- Special gear: A helmet is recommended for the final summiting
- Number of Gods at the peak: 12 (+ great number of lesser demi-gods in the vicinity)
Our route took us from Helsinki through Istanbul to Thessaloníki, where we hired a car and drove towards the town of Litohoro. Mount Olympus is relatively close to the Aegean Sea, so the full size directly from the sea level looks impressive. The most common route to hike the mountain is part of one of the long distance hiking trails in Europe, E4. The country spanning route in fact starts (or ends at depending on the way you are looking at it) from this particular town, but there is a car park called Prionia somewhat higher up the mountain (1100 m)
Given our flight schedules, slower than expected roads and wanting to eat well before the first day hike, we were slightly delayed from our planned start of the journey. We had called the Refuge Spilios Agapitos earlier on the day and they had strongly suggested us to ensure that we make it there before it gets dark. Thus we were hiking against the setting sun. The trail is clearly marked and goes through forests. The hike from Prionia to the Refuge takes about 3 hours. The twilight started to creep on us just at the moment when we first saw a beacon of light higher up in the mountain. It was indeed the Refuge, our midway goal at 2100 m.
|Mytikas as seen from Skala|
The ascent continued in a forest but started clearly giving away for more barren rocky environment. One of our companions kept others entertained by seemingly never ending interpretation of Stig Dogg classics like I'm Hunting a Puma. Eventually Puma song started to get slightly repetitive just by the time we reached Skala peak at 2866 m. From Skala one route takes to Stefani, which is the mythological Throne of Zeus and another to highest Mytikas, the Pantheon of the twelve Olympians.
|Scaling the steepest section of Mytikas|
Finally we were standing on the highest point of Greece. Clearly the stories of great halls and stormy feasts the Twelve Gods have reportedly had on this very location seemed vastly exaggerated. The only thing the Gods had left behind was a little flag of Greece and a visitor book. Yet the overflowing feeling of achievement was once again as gratifying as ever. There would have been a more direct way back to the Refuge, but it would have taken through very steep and long descent to begin with. We unanimously decided that we will just safely backtrack our steps. The trip from Refuge to Mytikas took us about 4,5 hours. The walk back to the car park was uneventful, yet knee-hurting.
|Route from Refuge to Mytikas|
|Vikos Gorge at sunset|