Winter 2012

Mount Olympus conditions update

It has been quiet a long time since my last correspondence in English. Following a cold and dry summer with plenty of rock climbing, trail running (Killian's Quest took place on Mount Olympus in June: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axewzag1YCA) and a great number of ascents to the main summits of Mount Olympus, winter appeared on the corner since mid-October when the first snowfall caused the Plateau of Muses to be inaccessible from the mules, hence leaving us to carry supplies on our backs, logging training miles for the coming winter and finish up a great summer season by the end of October.

Starting from Gortsia


November was an extension of the summer climate regime; cold and dry. Snow remained on the north facing slopes of the mountain, while disappeared from the south and east slopes. Mid December brought the first considerable snowfall on the mountain, a result of another cold front that arrived from the northeast (a result of the Siberian High variability). Snowline dropped to almost sea-level, while the road from Litochoro to Gortsia (main trailhead for winter ascents to the Plateau of Muses) was closed during Christmas and New Years.

Petrostrouga 1950m

Three weeks after New Years the snow pack remained fresh and powdery on the north slopes while it was blown away due to the high intensity NE winds that hammered the mountain during and after the New Years. The result of these climatic conditions is that currently the upper mountain (above 2300m) has been left with relatively little snow (all ridges are dry), while fresh powder has accumulated on the lower slopes.

Heading towards Skourta


Our first visit of the year on the Plateau of Muses on the weekend of 22nd and 23rd of January was characterized as windy (NW winds with gusts over 60km/h) cold (-20oC, -30oC including wind chill factor) and dry. East facing slopes (including the coloir of Mytikas) are characterized by wind slabs, under of which there is thick layer of loose unconsolidated snow, increasing the avalanche danger.

Laimos ridge

Agion Antonios & Zonaria

Kalaia & Mt Athos


Given the forecast for the coming days with considerable amounts of fresh wet snow from the southwest, the avalanche danger will increase even further, so extra caution is required towards the summit of Mytikas, if climbed from the coloir (Louki) through the Plateau of Muses.

Coming snowfall + existing conditions == Increased Avalanche danger!


To my perception currently the safest route to Mytikas is from the west side of Mount Olympus from the military camp (KEOAX) through the route KEOAX - Emergency hut - Agios Antonios ? Skolio ? Skala ? Mytikas. Snow from the ridge of Skala has been blown of, so bolts for belaying are visible, whereas the last part of the route is characterized by unconsolidated snow, but still climbable.

Some photos from our ascent during 22nd and 23rd of January are cited below.

I wish a Good Winter season to everybody with safe enjoyable climbing and skiing!

Mike Styllas