Mt Olympus Climb

Trip Start Jun 06, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2009

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Mt Olympus

Flag of Greece  , Macedonia Region,
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Another tale of the Great Adventure!  Or rather...Misadventure.

Since I enjoy the outdoors and most of what it has to offer, I thought it would be neat to climb Mt Olympus since I'm in Greece.  The Ancient Greeks used to worship it and think the Gods lived up on it so I thought it would be cool to say that you conquered the mountain and the Gods.

My travel book that I brought with me had about a paragraph worth of info on how to get to the place and what to expect.  So the day before I wanted to leave, I made sure to get my train tickets and book a 1-night stay up in Refuge "A".  The Refuge is pretty much a hostel that you can stay in overnight and it's located about half way up the mountain.  When I went in to get my train tickets, the lady informed me that the Greeks were going on strike on midnight of the day that I wanted to come back.  And that was the train that I wanted to take because the only other one left at 6 am.  So I had to switch stations which wasn't a big problem.  So I woke up at 5 am the day I was supposed to leave and was packing my bags when I noticed that I didn't have my train ticket.  Or my travel book.  I accidentally left it in an internet cafe the previous night because I was tired and rushed out of the place and didn't grab it.  And of course they were closed at 5 am.  So I decided to cough-up another 40 Euros because I was on a time crunch.  I barely bought my ticket before it was time for the train to leave.  So I hurried up and got into my seat on the train.  As soon as I sat down, a young woman sat down next to me.  And as soon as she did she turned to face me and was looking at her boyfriend out of the window on the other side.  And they started doing that kissy kissy I miss you stuff right through me and 2 other people.  It was funny and annoying at the same time.  I thought it would be over any second since the train was due to leave.  Well guess what?  The train decided to break down at the station before we even left.  It broke down for 45 minutes.  They had to pull the lead train off and put another one on.  The kissy kissy stuff moved on to a phone call through the window while they were staring at each other.  It only lasted for about 20 minutes before he finally left thankfully.  We were finally on our way north and making progress.  The train I took was supposed to be the express train that took 4.5 hours instead of 6 or 8 hours.  Well the train decided to break again at some random station for about 20 minutes along the way.  So the train ended up lasting 6 hours long.  I didn't really mind because I only had a 3 hour hike up the mountain and it was still early. 

I got off at my station and was told by the travel book from the previous night to just, "take a 10 Euro taxi" to the trail-head.  I ended up taking a 30 Euro taxi ride because it was a 30 minute ride to the trail.  Thanks Frommer's!  Oh well...I was on my way now.  I made it to the trail and started climbing.  After a little bit of climbing, I was getting a little worried because most people were decked out with nice hiking boots, walking poles, and North Face gear.  All I had was shorts, a t-shirt, 2 bottles of water, and a ham sandwich.  Talk about preparation!  I figured the mountain was only 9577 ft high.  I've climbed Mt Fuji before and that was 12000 something feet and it wasn't too bad.  So I said screw it and I finished the walk in about 3 hours which was average.  Along the way I managed to roll my ankle and hit the side of it with a big rock but didn't really have a problem with it.  I was kind of cursing the mountain a little because it was extremely steep.  I don't really have experience climbing many mountains other than Mt Fuji and Mt Kilimanjaro.  Kili was an ass kicker on the finaly ascent but that was because of the lack of oxygen and iIt was basically walking right behind a guide the whole time.  I think because I hadn't been working out either and my 4 hours of sleep it wore me out.  Anyway I made it up to the Refuge and ate some dinner and went to bed early since 6 am was coming early. 

I woke up and noticed immediately that my ankle was a bit sprained from the roll the day prior.  I tried walking on it and there was a little pain but it wasn't too bad.  It only hurt a bit when I pivoted the ankle.  Since I would just be walking up hill, I thought I could do it.  So I set out at 7 am for the 3 hour hike up the mountain and was kicking some ass.  I passed a few different groups of people but I didn't gloat in it because some were with young kids and some were heavier and older.  I was just young and in not bad shape.  As I was climbing there were some amazing views of the mountains along the way complete with snow pockets in a few places.  The climb was really steep and it was all loose rocks the whole way up.  I was kind of following some people who were way up ahead of me because you really couldn't tell where the trail was since the signs weren't that good in parts and the whole thing was just rocks everywhere.  I finally made it up to the kind of base camp where you could look down on both sides of the mountain.  When I reached that point I saw two different peaks.  One to my left and one to my right.  There was a sign pointing to the left but the words were rubbed off of it.  The peak on the left looked a little bit taller to me than the right one.  I saw only 3 people on the left but about 6 on the right.  Since there was an extreme ridge right in front of me, I was thinking the peak on the right was probably the more difficult peak but a bit smaller.  Kind of like K2 to Mt Everest.  So I set off for the left peak and it was a cake-walk to get up.  It was probaly the easiest part of the climb.  As I was up there all alone and making a video(I wish I had time to upload the video) of the surrounding view while touting my accomplishments of kicking the Zeus's ass and claiming the mountain and all of Greece for God Adam, I noticed some people walking toward my peak but then turning back.  Then I noticed more people heading for the peak on the right and not on the left.  Long story short, the peak on the right was the summit and not the left.  The one on the left is 6 meters shorter and a breeze to get up.  I quickly made it back to the middle and started talking with some people.  As I was watching some people try to climb the peak, I though "How the hell."  First you had to climb with your hands and knees on some rocks for about 50 meters and if you slipped, you were dead.  All you had to follow was some paint markers on the best path to take.  Afterward you somehow had to Spider-man up the side of the mountain for maybe 100 meters probably.  I really couldn't see how the hell you could do it from my point of view.  After a few thoughts, I thought "What the hell."  So started with the grasping of the rock face for about 20 meters when I noticed 3 older people coming back.  They said they weren't not going to try to make the ascent because it was too dangerous for them.  I think I went about 5 meters more before I decided to turn back.  With my 0 experience with climbing rocks, I thought it was wise.  I got back up to where I needed to go and started talking to some people who were about to try it.  I would say about 70% didn't even attempt the final ascent.  I talked to a few who were experienced climbers and they said I made a wise choice.  So I felt a little better about myself but still kind of felt like a loser.  Oh well! 

I busted a move down the mountain and along the way people were asking me about the ascent.  And of course I told them about it and I probably scared most of them from it.  I figured if they were asking about it, they probably weren't experienced climbers anyway.  Who knows!

On my train home I ended sitting next to some cool Greek guy who spoke great English and we talked most of the way home.  Which had I think 3 or 4 long delays along the way.  Greek trains are the worst.  At least there Metro in Athens is good.  Thanks Olympics!
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cwald on

Ahem, Mountain Hardwear?
Hey Lil' Bro! What's all this North Face talk? You are a very well outfitted Mountain Hardwear poster child last time I checked! Let's get you some good hiking shoes, Columbia owns Montrail, and they have some great options if you're interested!

Anyway, glad you opted not to climb, it's fun with the right gear and expertise, very dangerous otherwise. The views were just spectacular, you've conquered some of the best known mountains in the world!

Big Sis

quinn000 on

Holy Cow....
Are you having the time of your life or what!! This is so fantastic Adam! The experiences you have had in your young life rivel even the ole your Dad!! lol Love the pictures and videos!

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