To get close to peak of the Mount Olympus, it takes quite an ordeal. It's not only a tour, it's a torture! After all, here we are on the way to the highest mountain in Greece, which is also one of the highest peaks in Europe. Its summit, Mytikas, rises to 2,917 meters above sea level.
It looks like a steep tooth in the flat land surrounded by an elongated mountain massif. This is breathtaking and it declares why this peak is one of the most famous in the world. The area around the massif was the first region in Greece to be declared a national park in 1938.
With its overwhelming beauty, remoteness and majesty, it is not surprising that the ancient Greeks believed it to be the home of their most important gods, who sit on the Mytikas peak. Godfather Zeus they believe, has his throne here, at a place in a little bit thin air, under clouds from the sea and with a wide angle view on the whole world. Okay, only the european part.
Hiking here, however, is not hiking in the usual sense, even though climbing Mount Olympus is considered the highlight of hiking in Greece. Rather, climbing is required here, with helmet and rope and rope partner, hooks, eyes and harnesses.
One notices little of the extraordinary biodiversity and rich flora for which Mount Olympus is praised because of all the excitement. If you got your helmet, your view on the things is quiet different.
No thought of it however more after leaving the hut, from which a seemingly endless zigzagging hiking trail leads upward. The tree line is far behind, the first glimpses of the peaks of Mount Olympus become possible. This is really not a hill, but a cliff that rises vertically into the sky. No way up is to be discovered, there high to the plateau of the Muses and to the Mytikas peak, the small plateau, where greece ends at his highest high.
The early rising still in the bones, necessary to make it back the same day, pulls the chain of hikers uphill. The weather is good, a little fog only, but as with any mountain climb, the chances of climbing the Mytikas depend largely on the weather and conditions on the mountain. Loose gravel is rolling under our foots, the mountain flanks are slippery and overgrown with mosses. Some paths are already difficult to climb, even before the alleged path to the summit comes into view.
The whole way become more difficult the nearer you come to the mountain himself. The final steps are actually a wide rocky gully, which rises almost vertically to the top. No steps, no ladders, no help. Only a few hooks in the rocks to which the rescue rope can be attached. Who falls here, falls deep. Who climbs nevertheless, passes the lower summit of Skala at 2,866 meters and is still not up. It needs a few more careful steps, a few falling boulders, a bit of gritting of the tooth. Just don't look down into the endless abyss that seems to reach down to the sea!
The summit than compensates for everything, all the anxiety and fear and effort. From the top there is a breathtaking view that reaches as far as Bulgaria and Albania. An infinitely liberating feeling. Only the sky above your head and the whole world at your feet. Merely the view downwards is so frightening. How are you suppose to get back down to earth over this steep wall? Is it possible to to slide down on the bottom of your pants? Or will Zeus send a ladder to save us?
A few more pictures for you: