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Ascent of Óros Orvilos on 2012-05-12

Climber: James Warren

Date:Saturday, May 12, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Óros Orvilos
    Location:Greece/Bulgaria
    Elevation:2211 m / 7257 ft

Ascent Trip Report

There is absolutely no literature on this place, nothing on the internet (in English anyway, and almost nothing in Greek) and no publicly available maps but I do like a challenge, so I thought I'd explore. Plus no-one from Peakbagger has climbed this before (not even Petter Bjøstad!). What more incentive.

To get there, you need to head for Drama, then Kato Nevrokopi (ie head for Bulgarian border). As you enter the village, turn left and head for Vathytopos and Katafyto. Keep going until you enter Katafyto (c15k), then turn left about 50m after entering the village. Keep going out the other side of the village, after c2k you pass a white chapel and after 3k you reach a small dam/reservoir. I turned R onto a track immediately on seeing the dam and drove c200m up this track, I could have gone further but its best done in a 4x4, not a rented seat Ibiza! The mountain and the border ridge are now in full view to the N.

I aimed to tackle this by going up the big ridge that leads from the S, Unfortunately, while there are tracks heading up to this ridge, I could find no path that gets on to the ridge. The best bet is to follow the track I parked on until you reach a sharp left bend and a flat area covered in big round boulders, c400m up the track. Turn R here and follow a disused track in a NW direction. Follow it as it turns N and keep going for about 1.25k - you are heading for a point where the track goes round a spur at c 1,100m, and the ground is scoured to bare white rock. Its visible on Google Earth (possibly the only map you'll have!). There are also old logs piled here. From here, the only way I could find to reach the ridge is a straight slog uphill through the cleared forest and undergrowth. About 20m N of the white rick turn, a gap in the uphill bank reveals a v faint path that zig-zags uphill. Follow this as much as you can but it soon runs out. The rest is just hard graft, until you come out above the treeline at c 1500m.

Here, thankfully, you should see a v faint path coming up from the SW, it looks like it is a proper walking trail and even has red waymarkers occasionally, however it seems to have been neglected for years. In any event, it follows a good line on the E side of the ridge, taking you up the saddle below the main summit ridge. Keep going straight up - at one point the path reaches a tiny outcrop on the corner of the ridge and disappears, just keep going straight up and the path will reappear below some fir trees above you. From here, the path traverses across below the ridge, joining the ridge at c.2100m albeit a bit west of the actual peak. You can then follow the ridge to the peak - the highest point is the one with 2 pillars to the W, not the one to the E. Great views up to the snowy Rila mountains in Bulgaria. It looks like the peak would be easier from the Bulgarian side - a track gets to c.1800m on that side and the gradient is easier.

On my descent, I hoped the path I found would lead straight S down the ridge so I could drop down behind the dam and get back the car without the cross-country slog of the ascent. Unfortunately the path veers SW and heads down into the valleys on the W side. I could find no sign of it on Google earth, its too faint. Its possible that there are tracks/paths that lead up to the ridge to the W of the dam, but I couldn't find them.

Anyway, it was fantastic to be up there, the spring flowers were lovely and heavy thunderstorm apart, it was good weather. Some old trenches/gun emplacements on the saddle at 1700m as well - great spot in May, not sure I would have liked to man them in winter tho.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1311 m / 4304 ft
    Elevation Loss:1311 m / 4304 ft
    Distance:13 km / 8.1 mi
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Pleasant, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1311 m / 4304 ft
    Distance:6.5 km / 4 mi
    Route:Ridge from S
    Trailhead:Track to N of reservoir  900 m / 2953 ft
    Time Up:3 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1311 m / 4304 ft
    Distance:6.5 km / 4 mi
    Trailhead:900 m / 2953 ft
    Time Down:2 Hours 30 Minutes



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