Mountaineering :: Trekking :: Ski touring

 

Alpine Ski Club Expedition to Greece: 18 Feb - 4 Mar 2006

Led by David Hamilton


Two late cancellations reduced the team size to 5 ASC members. David Hamilton and Dave Harmer stayed for the entire programme, Patrick Bird and Alex Miller joined the first part of the trip, and Richard Cowper arrived in time for the later stages. Gewrgios (George) Panagos, a very capable Greek Skier, did an excellent job of arranging transport and accommodation in Greece. His knowledge of the mountains proved invaluable in planning the itinerary for the trip. We based ourselves in Delphi for the first four days. This enabled us to visit the ancient ruins and ski in the nearby mountains. The ski resort at Parnassos offers good facilities from a lift station at 1750m to a high point of 2200m. This is a good base for exploring nearby peaks and we made several day tour climbing 2457m Liakoura and other peaks of the Western Parnassos in perfect weather. Snow conditions were somewhat strange, icy rime gave a very firm surface in the mornings but gave way to difficult crust in the afternoons. We moved our base to Gravia to ski 2 peaks in the Eastern Parnassos, Giona and Vardusia. The ski ascent of Giona proved to be the best of our trip. We climbed from the 1200m roadhead to the 2507m summit in 5 hours, initially through a forest then onto open mountain slopes above the treeline.


Poor weather disrupted the remainder of our time in Greece. Plans to climb Vardusia in the Western Parnassos and Smolikas, Gamila and Astraka in the Pindos Range had to be abandoned. After several frustrating days driving around deserted mountain villages in the rain we reached the southern slopes of Mount Olympus. Some extreme off road driving took our hired van to the Army training base located at 1700m. Here we had to convince the base commander of our competence. He was getting grief from his superiors after a member of the local mountain rescue team had died on an exercise a few weeks previously. The slopes to the summit plateau did not look difficult and we climbed the piste alongside the army ski lift to a height of 2400m. Strengthening winds and decreasing visibility forced us to abandon our attempt on the 2918m summit.


Had we had more luck with the weather I am sure that we would have been able to enjoy several enjoyable ski tours. Greece is a very mountainous country although much of the limestone topography is not ideal for skiing. However with good local knowledge many excellent tours and descents can be found. Snow conditions differ greatly from more 'Alpine' regions and particular attention must be paid to this in order to get the best out of a trip. Leading Greek skiers and mountaineers are starting to explore their home mountains in winter and there is a steadily growing body of knowledge for visiting ski mountaineers to consult. Inexpensive wine, great seafood, isolated monasteries and incomparable archaeology did a lot to make up for the lack of world class skiing.

 

The planned programme….


(not completed due to the weather conditions described above!)


Sat 18

Fly Uk to Athens. (arrive 20.10) Drive to Delphi (Hotel Kouros)

 

Sun 19 / Mon 20 / Tue 21

Resort skiing and day tours from the Parnassos ski area.

Accessible peaks in the area include Liakoura 2457m, Gerondovrachos 2389m and Tsarkos 2415m.

Accommodation in Hotel Kouros at Delphi


Wed 22 George Panagos will join the group. Skiing on Pyramid, Giona. Accommodation at Milias Camps


Thu  23 crossing of Mt Parnassos.  Accommodation at Milias Camps


Fri    24 ski touring on Mt Vardousia. Accommodation at Athanasios Diakos (or in Galaxidi if you prefer the sea)


Sat 25 Drive to Pindus area. Stay at Pades or Paleoselli (south side of Mt Smolikas)


Sun 26 skiing on Smolikas 2637m. drive to Papigo, Astraka. Accommodation in hotel at Papigo.


Mon 27 climb to Astraka col. Ski touring to Drakolimni or skiing steep couloirs. Stay in the refuge.


Tue 28 ski touring on Gamila peak 2497m. return to the refuge


Wed 1 ski down to Papigo. Drive to Olympus area.


Thu 2 / Fri 3 skiing on Mt Olympus 2918m / Fri night to Thesalonika


Sat 4 Drive to Athens for evening flight to the UK (dept Athens 20.45)

 



David Hamilton
High Adventure
67 Castle Road
Hartshill
Nuneaton
Warwickshire
CV10 0SG

Email:  david@highadventure.org.uk

Telephone:    From UK    02476 395422
From other countries     +44 2476 395422

Skype:  davidhamilton8848

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