Mount Olympus, Greece: Winter ascent to Citrus Peak (2,416 m)
Mountains have their own unique way of captivating you, which is not only related to their size or their biodiversity, but also to the historical and mythological veil that surrounds them. What about a mountain that combines all of the above?
Mount Olympus. A mountain that holds in its arms the very soul of Greece. A mountain where gods and heroes have walked on its peaks. A mountain where myth becomes history and reality becomes myth.
Mount Olympus. An ark of nature, struggling to remain pristine and untouched, despite the human stupidity.
Mount Olympus. The mountain with a thousand faces. No matter from where you look at it, you understand why the ancient Greeks placed their gods home on its peaks.
Somewhere between the awe caused by the view of Greece’s highest mountain and the mystery of its history and the dramatic changes in landscape morphology, rises the desire for an ascent to its high, alpine peaks.
It all started a cold winter day from Kokkinopilos, a picturesque village built at an altitude of 1,150 meters on the northwestern slopes of Mount Olympus.
Our target was Citrus Peak (2,416 m) with the breathtaking view to the highest peaks of Greece.
Kokkinopilos is an Aromanian (Vlach) village and a community of the Elassona municipality in the regional unit of Larissa.
The 2011 census recorded 125 inhabitants in the village, a decrease of almost 29% compared with the population of the previous census of 2001.
Kokkinopilos was founded in the 12th century by Vlach farmers. In 1442 It was captured by the Ottomans. After a failed revolt, during the Greek War of Independence, the village was captured and looted by Ottoman troops.
On 8 October 1912 Kokkinopilos was captured by the Greek Army. During the Axis occupation of Greece the village was burned twice: in 1943 by the Italians and in 1944 by the Germans.
The latter resulted to the scattering of the population of the village in Katerini and Thessaloniki.
Our journey begins shortly after the last houses on the south side of the snow-covered village. It’s early in the morning and everything around us is frozen. Just like us.
However, we will quickly warm up as we hike the uphill trail (part of the European E4 trail) up to an altitude of 1,350 meters, where there is a kiosk with panoramic view of the plain and the surrounding mountains towards the west-southwest.
At this point there is a junction of paths. Straight ahead goes into the Stalagmatia Gorge, while on the left it goes uphill into a fir forest.
Following the dense markings (metal markings on the trees, and the extra marking of the Faethon Olympus Marathon, a trail race), we hike on the steep, snow covered forested slope.
At an altitude of 1,700 meters, we exit the forest, entering to the alpine area of the mountain. We ignore the stone-built “Rudy” fountain on our right and follow the trail marks (metal columns) which gradually will lead us up to the ridge, while the snow deepens ever more.
As we approach the ridge, the alpine majesty of Mount Olympus’s snow-capped high peaks to the east gradually reveals in front of our eyes.
We are at an altitude of 2,260 meters, and we’ve reached Citrus Peak ridge.
How beautiful the moment can be when we unite with it. When we taste it, when we live it. When we embrace it with our heart, when we enjoy it with our emotions.
Guys, i don’t know, but there are no words that can accurately convey the depth and intensity of the emotions that flooded my soul and heart at that magical moment.
I often say that:
“A snowy mountain is God’s apology to man for the paradise He took”
If you don’t experience this view, you can not perceive the truth hidden in this phrase. I think that not even the best painter could have so perfectly draw this white winter landscape that was suddenly revealed in front of me.
The view of Mount Olympus white wild alpine terrain shocked me. It was not easy for me to manage this spectacle emotionally. Anyone who loves mountains will understand me.
As we traverse the snowy ridge, the whole mountainous splendor of Greece is revealed around us, and after a 4 hours ascent we reached Citrus Peak at an altitude of 2,416 meters.
Another trip to the mountainous majesty of our country has come to an end. Another trip, full of intense emotions and many life lessons.
Because there, in the magnificent mountains of Greece, we (the “humble visitors”) redefine the true values of life.