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.
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.
For info about skiing Greece, along with logistical help or guides, contact Way Out Adventures.
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.