Ascent of Olympus-Skala on 2014-07-31

Climber: Johann Schelesnak

Others in Party:Ashleigh
Date:Thursday, July 31, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hitchhiking
    Elevation:9403 ft / 2866 m

Ascent Trip Report

July 30, 2014
Since the weather forecast on Mount Olympus was only decent for today and tomorrow we decided to head up as soon as possible. We reserved a spot in the refuge, repacked our stuff to "essentials only" and headed for the bus, that was going into Litochoro. We arrived there, picked up some food for the hike and started walking towards Prionia.

We started the hike in Prionia (1100m) after we had hitched a 17km ride up from Litochoro (330m). It was already later in the afternoon but still very hot. I was carrying Ashleigh's big backpack and Ashleigh had the camelback. The trail was very well maintained with many steps and some railed sections. It was moderately steep for an hour before turning into steeper switchbacks. Most of the trail was in the shady trees but the last part before the Refuge A (2100m) was in the open, with small shrubs and tons of switchbacks. We could see the refuge from far below so it made us push hard to reach it in time before the sun was setting. We only encountered some rain showers and had checked the weather before. It was looking favorable except for a lot of rain the day after tomorrow, so we used this window to climb up. Otherwise we would have probably been stuck in the small town for a while. The hike up went smoothly, we met many families that were poorly prepared and struggling to get up with the poor kids. The refuge is amazing, basically a hostel with a restaurant. We had a full meal, a greek salad and spaghetti for a decent price. It was cooling down quite a bit, so we crawled into the blankets. Lights were out at 10pm, but we passed out before then.

July 31, 2014
We had the best sleep one can have at a mountain refuge. Ashleigh and I woke up around 5.30am, had breakfast and got ready to go. It was slowly getting light out so we didn't need any headlamps to hike. Everyone else was still sleeping (families + kids), but we wanted the best weather conditions and hiking early is the best! It was a beautiful morning and we were the first ones on the trail towards the summits of Mt. Olympus. We felt energized after a good dinner and a long sleep so we hiked up the first 400m of elevation at a quick pace. We did have a slight case of summit fever as well, since it had been so long since we reached an actual peak. The second half of the hike was quite a bit more difficult, the sun had come up, the temperature was dropping with elevation gain and the wind picked up considerably. Furthermore the trail became very steep and consisted of lose scree. The wind gusts (forecasted winds were in the 40-50km/h range + gusts) made the trek up a lot more work than it should have been, and we had to be careful. Luckily we had our jackets, gloves, mittens and a decent layer on, so we weren't that cold. I put the daypack on Ashleigh to give her some more weight, so she wouldn't fly of the moutain. After two hours we had finally reached the first summit of Mt. Olympus: Skala peak at 2866m. It was crazy windy up there, but there was a small wall that someone had built, providing us with some cover so we could rest for a bit and take in the amazing view. Most clouds had moved on due to the strong winds and the view behind the peaks was breathtaking. A Spanish lady had come up as well and took our picture with the flag. Now we got to wave it on two peaks, one on each continent: Africa and Europe. The other Olympus summits were a bit farther away one to the left a good half hour hike, the others to the right. Mytikas, Greece's highpoint at 2917m looked like it was within our reach. Unfortunately it was still some distance away requiring us to scramble down a treacherous ridge and then scramble up through some scary cliff sections. We were advised to watch out for rockfall there as well and with these winds & around zero degree wind chills, we decided not to attempt the other peaks (which were only a few meters higher anyways) and would instead be happy to successfully having reached one of them. After a quick break we started to head down and met many other hikers coming up. The Spanish hiker also came down after a quick attempt on Mytikas, it looked like she was going to approach it from a different route. We made our way down, had a nice lunch at the refuge and continued down the mountain. The temperature rose, our feet were hurting and after 4 hours of going downhill we were glad to reach the cold springs near Prionia. We soaked our feet for a bit, filled up our water and waited by the road for our ride down.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5794 ft / 1766 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5794 ft / 1766 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.2 mi / 18 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Hut Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Drizzle, Cool, Very Windy, Partly Cloudy
Windy on Skala Peak
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5794 ft / 1766 m
    Distance:5.6 mi / 9 km
    Route:E4 via Refuge A
    Start Trailhead:Prionia  3609 ft / 1100 m
    Time:4 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5794 ft / 1766 m
    Distance:5.6 mi / 9 km
    End Trailhead:Prionia  3609 ft / 1100 m
    Time:4 Hours 

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