Skiing Mt. Smolikas — Greek Ski Tour Deluxe


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 9, 2016      
Skiing down a nice little shot off the summit plateau

Skiing down a nice little shot off the Mt. Smolikas summit plateau.

Zeus blessed us with clear weather for the last day of the 2016 Dynafit press event here in Greece. The clear skies were put to good use with a ski of Mt. Smolikas, the second highest mountain in the land.

Smolikas rises above the village of Samarina, where we’ve been staying. It’s the second highest peak in Greece at 2,637 meters, and with a name that sounds like something out of a Tolkien novel, you know you have to go.

Mt. Smolikas, as seen on the approach ski. We climbed the right hand summit, via the obvious low-angled ramp.

Mt. Smolikas, as seen on the approach ski. We climbed the right hand summit, via the obvious low-angled ramp on the right.

For the start, we drove a few minutes out of town to a nearby pass to access the unseasonably high snow-line. The road hadn’t been plowed, and we parked a few switchbacks short of the pass summit. Nevertheless, we were able to skin from the car.

The forest we hiked up consisted of large deciduous trees, widely spaced, with hardly any undergrowth. Absolutely beautiful glade skiing. I’m told the forests are this way because of thousands of years of goat and sheep grazing all over these mountains. The snow was thin, but had a fairly dense base, with about 15 inches of heavy powder on top.

As we broke out of the trees, we were able to see the summit massif. It looked windy and cloudy, so we split into two groups, one heading back to ski powder laps in the trees, and the rest heading up toward the windblown summit. I continued on toward the summit. Although the apex looked far away, travel on the windpacked snow was quick. With Dynafit CEO Benedikt Böhm leading our Byzantine charge, we topped out on the eastern, lowest summit, with great views of the other two summits. The area holds quite a bit of nice looking lines, ranging from low-angled slopes to nice-looking couloirs.

After summit views in a rather stiff breeze, we skied down the top of our ascent route, before ducking off the side of the summit plateau onto a nice slightly steeper shot. The snow on the upper mountain was wind packed, but made for nice, fast skiing. Lower down we found nice powder in the trees, though we did excavate a few stones.

Although Greece is having a rough start to the season, we found snow, and great skiing, at higher elevations. I came to Greece not knowing quite what to expect, and have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of quality ski terrain here. The ski potential is largely unexplored, especially compared to other parts of Europe.

There isn't much snow down low around here. However, higher up there is quite a bit. Also, the open, brush free forests make skiing with thin cover very doable.

There isn’t much snow down low around here. However, higher up there is quite a bit. Also, the open, brush free forests make skiing with thin cover very doable.

Skinning through beautiful, giant trees on the approach.

Skinning through beautiful, giant trees on the approach.

Heading up the Smolikas approach, beautiful forest that seasoned travelers keep saying remind them of Japan.

Heading up the Smolikas approach, beautiful forest that seasoned travelers keep saying remind them of Japan.

Approaching the lower summit of Smolikas.

Approaching the lower summit of Smolikas. Once you’re high here, you can see Mount Olympus (huge, and highest in Greece) along with Mount Gramos and Albania. Pretty exotic for us Colorado boys.

The summit was windy and foggy, but the snow had managed to stick around enough to skin easily to the top, and ski down.

The summit was windy and foggy, but the snow had managed to stick around enough to skin easily to the top, and ski down.

Mt. Olympus as seen from near the top.

Mt. Olympus as seen from near the top.

Our summit for the day. Smolikas is a large massif, made up of three distinct summits. We climbed the lowest. The highest summit is visible in the right of the photo, and the second highest is visible on the left.

Our summit for the day. Smolikas is a large massif, made up of three distinct summits. We climbed the lowest. The highest summit is visible in the right of the photo, and the second highest is visible on the left.

Skiing with views of the surrounding foothills

Skiing with views of the surrounding foothills and high mountains in the distance.

Lower down, in the trees, the snow wasn't wind affected, and we found some nice powder.

Lower down, in the trees, the snow wasn’t wind affected, and we found excellent powder. 1,600 meters of vertical gain later we were back at the cars clinking glasses of ouzo, they do that instead of trailhead beers, with care.

For info about skiing Greece, along with logistical help or guides, contact Way Out Adventures.

Bonus shot, magic trees.

Bonus shot, magic trees.



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Comments

8 Responses to “Skiing Mt. Smolikas — Greek Ski Tour Deluxe”

  1. Stevie January 9th, 2016 4:04 pm

    Nice report, another place to ski!

  2. Wookie1974 January 10th, 2016 3:46 am

    Great report! Those trees really do look like Hokkaido. I’ll have to get down there sometime. The whole area has a lot of potential, but much of it is on the other side of the border in Montenegro, Albania, et al. I have been hesitant to take trip there mostly because of the hassles of poor travel options, and corruption. But Greece – thats a different story!

  3. Louie Dawson January 10th, 2016 10:25 am

    Yeah, that does seem to be one of the major advantages of Greece (although I have never been to any of the other balkan countries). Tourism is their main industry, and although it is dead in the winter, the infrastructure is there, and it is very easy traveling.

  4. Jernej January 10th, 2016 12:13 pm

    Guess you can call it luck such prejudice keeps most people away 🙂

  5. Travis January 10th, 2016 6:02 pm

    The Teton Gravity film, Paradise Waits, has a great segment on Greece. My brother lives in northern Italy… Let the scheming begin.

  6. Promitheas January 12th, 2016 3:39 pm

    Great Adventure in awesome place … welcome to Greece beyond the sea…we have awesome Mountains…see more in this video…backcountry ski in Smolikas last year…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwOwLsFtFMw

  7. Promitheas January 12th, 2016 3:44 pm

    Great place to be and awesome adventure to Live …see more in this mountain last year
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwOwLsFtFMw

  8. Promitheas January 12th, 2016 3:46 pm

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MSkauc6qck another backcounty ski day beyond these mountains….





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