I met Constantine Papanikolaou – CP for the first time during a ski event on Mount Olympus’ Plateau of Muses with guest star Slovenian extreme skier Davo Karnicar. This was a period when free mountain skiing on Mount Olympus and Greece in general was blossoming and there was a very good buzz in the air. One evening as I was downing a well-deserved beer after a couple of descends from the nearby peak of Toumba, CP was chilling out in the yard of the refuge with his body spread in a chez-long when I heard him mumbling…
I can set here for several days bring a bunch of pros and a helicopter and shoot for a week
At an instant I spurted out
We do not like helicopters here, human power only” thinking inside me.
Who the f**k is this American dude that wants to settle here and bring a heli, for which I have been fighting against all these years?

That was the end of the conversation and we rarely had the chance to speak more after this brief dialogue, as it was hectic in the refuge. The following summer an email came from CP asking for more information about the winter season, refuge pricing etc. I kindly replied but did not took it very seriously. And there we go...Frozen Ambrosia was conceived.

CP soon after Frozen Ambrosia was conceived

He did re-appear the following winter and we met again in Summit Zero seaside hostel, where we hang out a lot with our Front Range pal Perry, who is in charge. CP had come to meet us straight from Athens airport and as he was jet lagged, a few hours later we were battling the winds and spindrift in the ridge of Laimos. This incident happened repeatedly over the next two winters. CP landing from the US through some European airport, driving from Athens up to Mount Olympus, and a bunch of us climbing up the mountain with our big, heavily loaded backpacks and usually with shity weather. We were carrying stuff for the refuge but he was carrying his cameras, tripods and all the cinematographic paraphernalia of equal - 20kg plus - weight. Amazing thing we were skiing down the mountain with empty backpacks, but CP was facing a different reality as he still had to ski down with all the stuff he had brought up!

The last hard step before the paradise – the Plateau of Muses, the infamous Giosos pass. 20kg of gear, the heavy tripod, cameras, lenses and climbing stuff plus the skis…and this happened many, many times.

In the beginning I did not take the whole thing seriously. He was insisting he was making a movie, but I was more interesting in working the refuge properly, make our visitors happy and ski down nice slopes. Evenings that we were getting smashed on trispouro, CP would take his tripod and film the sunset, the wind or something. Soon I realized that “The Dude”, as we often called him, was not a joke. I am not an internet or Facebook guy, so I had not actually seen his previous filming work. I have to admit that at this stage I was learning a lot about mountains, skiing and global politics, as coming from the US west coast he had another vision of the world. I hadn’t realized that there was a movie going on after our fourth time up on Mount Olympus. CP would call for a stop and to tell us to go back to pass again in front of his camera. In the beginning it was frustrating, especially the days with nice powder snow, but in the end all of us hide a little poser inside us.

The creamy powder of Vasilitsa under the mid-February sun. Committed to the project I had to make the same turn many times missing out a perfect day in paradise…the outcome proved it was worth it. 

And this was the new norm, from Mount Olympus we would travel to Vasilitsa during an epic winter to ski more and from there to Astraka for even more and then back to the Mount Olympus torture. Gradually I became committed to CP’s filming project. It was a verbal contract and not a signed agreement, but I had decided that it was worth it to miss a few close to incredible skiing days in the shake of a pioneering movie that was showing winter Greece at its best.
One day he pulled a camera I had never seen before. A 16mm Swiss machine, he would parallel its existence to a Swiss knife. The noise, the tapes was all new for me, as I had never have before a similar experience. Now that the movie is released and I see the snow splashing on the camera lens, vivid memories surface from how this footage was born.

CP and his Swiss knife during the filming of Frozen Ambrosia, with winter Greece at its best.
Not all was perfect though. On several occasions there was tension building up. Name it weather, or me being tired of having to say the same thing over and over again, or to go back and forth, or to wait for two and a half hours in the same spot for the fog to disappear cold and drunk from last night’s party in the refuge. Sometimes I would just not see the point, but CP’s persistence brought great results and also a near tragedy, which is illustrated very realistically in the movie.

Waiting on Mount Olympus for the fog in the atmosphere and in my head, to clear out. The outcome proves that such downtimes were worth the patience.
In the end no regrets. Despite various shortcomings, I am delighted I lived it all out, as it opened my eyes towards many different directions. Frozen Ambrosia is a pioneering movie showing the winter beauties of Greece during the hardest times of the country’s post Second World War history. It’s not about skiing steep slopes with a “cool dude” attitude, but more than that. Frozen Ambrosia is a reminder of how passionate Greek people, who love their mountains, neglect the eternal messages and symbolisms of Mount Olympus’ Gods, pay the price and stand up on their feet again.
I hope you enjoy it at www.frozenambrosia.com

Mike Styllas