We are already in beginning of March and the short winter mountaineering season in Greece will be concluded in about a month from now. Therefore, for this climb, we have decided to do a more demanding winter mountaineering ascent in the non-famous peak of Nisi (paradoxically the meaning of Nisi in Greek is “island), which is located nearby Lake Doxa, and is actually the beginning of the famous alpine route “Arête of Chelmos“.
Nisi is the first high peak of the Arête of Chelmos” route and the highest point is at 2.042 meters above sea level. It has a very steep ridgeline and there are 2 main ways in order to reach the peak. The first option is to hike up from Lake Doxa towards the “hunter’s col“. This is the same route that also leads to Mount Pentelia a.k.a. Dourdouvana and is a beautiful and relatively easy route. The second option is to start from the Monastery of St. George, which is located on a beautiful plateau overlooking Lake Doxa, and to each the “Madero Col“. From St. George Monastery till “Madero Col” the route is rather easy crossing small creeks, a beautiful pine forest and parts of a local dirt road.
As described earlier, the Nisi peak is part of the Aroania (Chelmos) mountain complex. Aroania/Chelmos (2355m), stands proud with its biggest section extending to the Kalavrita area. Is the third highest mountain in the Peloponnese and its natural beauties, the rare species of plants, birds and animals make it stand out. Its rich biotopes are protected as a Natura 2000 site. The mount attracts a large number of visitors mainly due to the ski-center that is situated in Vathia Lakka, 14 km. east of Kalavrita and the climbing routes. It offers an unsurpassed experience since there nest landscapes of unique beauty, traditional settlements, archaeological areas, caves and rivers. The mountain is suitable for excursions round the year.
See more hiking/mountaineering routes around Lake Doxa area:
- Wild camping and hiking in Lake Doxa
- Lake Doxa and Mount Pentelia (Dourdouvana)
- Midnight ascent on Mount Pentelia (Dourdouvana)
- Winter ascent on Mount Oligyrtos
St. George Monastery – Madero Col
We arrived and parked our cars nearby Lake Doxa and specifically in St. George monastery around 8.30 in the morning. Lake Doxa (Greek: Λίμνη Δόξα Limni Doxa) is an artificial lake in western Corinthia, Greece. It is situated at an elevation of 900 m, in the municipal unit Feneos, near the village Archaia Feneos. In the heart of the lake on a small peninsula features a small church of Agios Fanourios. The Saint George Monastery in Feneos was relocated to higher ground, north of the lake. The lake is surrounded by pine forests.
As soon we got all our equipment ready, we soon started our hike towards Madero Col. The first few hundred meters we have to follow the asphalt road downhill till the pace the official path starts. The path seems to be an old dirt road that have not been used for many years, thus has been transformed into a trail path. The path goes between a pine forest and the views are very nice. We can easily sea our destination point, Nisi peak, but also the nearby peaks like Madero peak and Mount Pentelia (Dourdouvana).
After 1 hour and 15 minutes and about 3.3 kilometres into the trail, we reached a dirt road that lead us toward the steep uphill towards the Madero-Nisi col. This dirt road, most probably is used by the forestry service and the local shephards. We followed this dirt road for another 2,7 kilometres and it was a very easy straight forward hike. At the end of the dirt road we took a very short break in order to have a snack and some water that would be much needed for the upcoming alpine climb we would be facing ahead of us.
As soon we have left the dirt road, we also found the first snow fields. Those snow fields where beautifully coving the rocks and the trees. Though, the only problem we had was the snow was partly melted and therefore it was not easy to hike up. On some parts of the trail, the snow was hip-deed.
The more we were hiking up, the steeper the mountain. At about 1 kilometre we had left the dirt road, it was time to take our ice axes our in order to help us with the uphill and of course for safety reasons in case we needed to perform self arrest. On that day, in our company we also have some un-experienced with such conditions fellow climbers, and therefore we had to make sure everyone was moving onto the terrain as safe as possible.
As we were moving on higher altitude, we could feel the wind blowing but at the same time we had amazingly splendid views of the peaks above us (Nisi – Madero), but also extraordinary view of Lake Doxa, Feneos and Mount Kyllini (Ziria) in the opposite side from us.
Alpine Climb Nisi Peak
After several kilometres of easy hike and more demanding mountaineering ascent, it was about time to get ready for the exciting part of reaching Nisi peak via the steep East-Face of the mountain. From the east face of the mountain, one can see numerous of lines via easier or more demanding couloirs.
As first step, we had to use the proper equipment. First of all, we had to use an Ice Axe, helmet, a harness, a Mammut 9.7 mm 60 meters climbing rope, a series of carabiners, laniards and of course we also had mountaineering snow pickets/anchors. For some people in our group that would be the first time they would try to do such a climb and therefore the more experienced members of the team had to assure everyone that the conditions were rather good. The two experience climbers were one in the lead of the climb and the other was as last in order make sure everyone could follow with no issues.
The terrain was rather steep and in some parts of the climb the steepness reach 68%. From the other side, due to the time of the day and the sun above us, we did not find ice, but rather “neve”. That was a bit of a worry part, because we had to be very aware of avalanches. We were climbing far above 45-50 degrees and the previous days there was a heavy snowfall on that mountain. The one that was leading was always checking the snow conditions and as trying to motivate the rest of the team in order to move as fast as possible so we could avoid any avalanche issues.
On our way up to the Nisi ridge, we also had to mix climb in parts of rock and slightly icy snow and that made the whole adventure even more interesting, exciting, difficult and a bit more dangerous. Nevertheless, the whole team performed great and every single moment the situation was under control.
We all reached the highest point of the route rather happy and we have had a quick snack and some water. One team member needed to change socks cause the shoes where soaked in water and therefore we had to wait a bit before the descent. For the descent we have used a snow picket as a belay and then we have started to down climb as fast as we could. The reason of this rapid down climb was the fact that the time was past 15.00 and therefore we did not want to be wandering onto the mountain when the darkness would have come.
The whole team have down climbed the mountain carefully and we were all good in safe terrain. Needles to describe the astonishment and happiness of some faces because they have managed to climb up such a demanding route.
Details of the climb:
- Location: Lake Doxa – Arete of Chelmos
- Starting Point: St. George Monastery
- Ending Point: Nisi Peak 2.042 m.
- Trail Signs: partly signed path
- Minimum Elevation: 908 m
- Maximum Elevation: 2.042 m.
- Total Distance: 16.6 km
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Water Features: Only one during winter time
Bellow you can see the route we have followed on a map and on 3D:
See more hiking/mountaineering routes around Lake Doxa area: