Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus
Mount OlympusOlympus lies between Thessaly and Macedonia, and its highest peak, Mitikas rises to 2,917 meters high.
Olympus is the highest mountain range in Greece, universally known from Greek mythology as it was home to the 12 Gods of ancient Greece.
The 12 Gods lived in the canyons -“Olympus creases” as Homer called them- where there are their palaces, while the Pantheon – today’s Mitikas- was their meeting point.
Olympus stands out for its rich flora and fauna and is the first area in which a special protection regime was established 50 years ago, as it was declared a National Forest in 1938. In 1981 UNESCO declared Olympus an MAB Biosphere Reserve.
Many welcoming villages lie on the slopes of the mountain whereas the whole area is a favorable destination for nature-lovers and visitors who wish to relax.

Information:
Olympus lies on the border between the prefectures of Pierria and Larissa, 18 km from Litohoro beach and 20 km away from Elassona. The limits of the mountain spread in a circle around its roots, with a perimeter of 150 km and an average diameter of 26 km whereas the overall area covered is 600 square km.
The mount Olympus has numerous deep ravines and a lot of regularly shaped peaks (many of which are more than 2,000 meters high). The highest and most impressive peaks are steep though. Apart from Mitikas other impressive peaks are Skolio and Stefani, which are 2,911 and 2,909 meters high respectively.
These peaks rise almost vertically, thus forming an arrow called ‘Megala Kazania’ (the Big Cauldrons), the biggest precipitous funnel-shaped hollow of Olympus, being 1,000 meters wide and 600-700 meters deep.

Infrastructure:
• On the southwest side of Olympus, in the municipality of Elassona, there are numerous small villages that can host visitors in traditional guesthouses and let rooms.
• On the east side there is Litohoro, with advanced tourist infrastructure, a town that can accommodate quite a lot of guests.
• On Olympus there are five (5) mountain refuges that can accommodate hikers and alpinists.
• On the site Vrisopoules there is a ski run, which is accessible to the visitors after they contact the officer responsible for the military installations.
• On Olympus there are two designated trails, the European E4 and the National O2.

Olympus offers:
• Many opportunities for activities in nature such as hiking, mountaineering, mountain cycling, skiing and air sports.
• The opportunity to go on holidays and excursions in a unique natural environment.
• Multiple journeys of a religious interest, given that in Elassona area there are many historical monasteries like Panagia Olimpiotissa, Sparmos, Kanalon and others.
• The unique opportunity of climbing to the highest mountain peak in Greece, that is Mitikas.

Mount OlympusSuggestions:
• Visit the monastery of Olimpiotissa in Elassona, Kanalon monastery out of the village Karia, Agia Trias monastery in Livadi of Elassona and Sparmos monastery outside the village Sparmos.
• Go on excursions to the villages Livadi and Karia combining good food and nature activities. In Livadi you can visit the Folklore Museum ‘Giorgakis Olimpios’.
• Visit the archeological sites of Azoros and Ancient Dolichi. Near the Archeological site of Azoros there is the Military museum of the Sarantaporo battle, which you can visit as well.
• Stay in Litohoro and visit the site Prionia, where there is a tavern and a resting place, and the small waterfalls of the river Enipeas (near its springs). On leaving this place, following the European trail E4 you can reach the mountain refuge ‘Spilios Agapitos’.
• Visit Dion, the sacred city of the ancient Macedonians that was dedicated to Zeus and the 12 Gods.

Mount OlympusHiking routes
There is a rather large network of trails all over mount Olympus, so that one can approach the upper mountain from all the sides. Many of these trails exist since antiquity, like the one starting from the village of Dion and leads to the highest parts of the mountain. This trail was reestablished in 2004 when the inaugural Olympus Marathon took place. The construction of the majority of the existing trails took place over the ages and they were mainly being used by loggers and shepherds. The recreational use of Mount Olympus trails begun in the 1950’s.
Considering the density and popularity of the existing trails, Mount Olympus can be pided in two major parts; the eastern and the northern ones. This of course does not mean that there are not any trails on the other sides of the mountain as well, but these are not that many and less popular. However, in this website there is an effort so that all the existing hiking routes of Mount Olympus to be described in the near future.
On the eastern part of the mountain, the most popular hiking route includes the European trail E4; starting from the village of Litochoro, through Ennipeas Gorge reaches Prionia (1060m) where there is a restaurant. From there the trail continues to “Spilios Agapitos” refuge, to further continue to the summit of Skala (2866m). From Skala one can reach Mytikas (2918), but the E4 trail continues to Skolio (2912m), then descending to Megali Gourna (Xristaki Bivouac) and from there following mainly the gravel road used by shepherds, further descents to the village of Kokkinopilos. This route is the most popular route, but only to Skala and Mytikas. Another equally popular route is this one starting from the parking lot of Gortsia (4km before Prionia, along the road from Litochoro to Prionia). It a scenic route as most of the time someone is hiking on a broad ridge. The trail is a roller coaster going through Petrostrouga (Petrostrouga Refuge) and then to Skourta to reach finally the Plateau of Muses.
There are many other trails both on the east, north and south west sides of the mountain. The trails on the southwest side of the mountain are not well maintained, but trails from the east and north sides are well maintained.
• Litohoro – Prionia – Refuge A
• Refuge A – Zinaria – Oropedio Mouson
• Refuge A – Kofto – Oropedio Mouson
• Litohoro – Petrostrougka – Kakalos & Apostolidis refuges
• Oropedio Mouson – Mitikas & Stefani peaks
• KEOAH – Agios Antonios peak – Skolio
• Kserolaki – Kazania – Oropedio Mouson
• Katafugio Krebatia – Kopsi Mparmpala – Oropedio Mouson.

Click here for information about the refuges

Hiking – Scrabling
Across the mountain exists a wide group of routes with various difficulty levels.

Rock climbing
On “Mitikas”, “Stefani” and “Skolio” exist 64 rock clibing routes of various length and grading.

Winter Mountaineering
Most of the hiking routes can be also done during winter, always depending on the weather conditions.

Winter climbing
The regular routes to peaks “Mitikas” and “Stefani” are considered to be the ultimate classic winter routes of Olympus. Moreover, a few rock climbing routes can be done as long as the weather conditions are suitable.

Ski – Snowboard
Olympus slopes are perfect for ski or snowboard though they demand high attention and deep experience. An easy access to Olympus on skis is possible starting from “Brisopoules” (K.E.O.A.X.) with direction to “Agios Antonios” peak.

Climbing around the world (Preparation for expeditions)
“Christos Kakalos” refuge is not only the beginning point to many rock climbing or trekking routes, but also a preperation center for expeditions abroad (Cho Oyu 8201m, Everest 8848m, Tirich Mir 7708m, Koy Ri, Makalu II 7450m etc).
Contact: Mike Styllas, Tel +30 6937361689, mstyllas@olympus-climbing.gr

Sources: inthessaly.gr, olympus-climbing.gr