It has been quite some time ago since we have last visited Aroania / Chelmos (Helmos) and although officially is spring time, we have managed to achieve one more ascent on winter mountaineering conditions. On our previews visit to this mountain we had approached it from the village Peristera and we have passed through the spectacular waterfall of Styga (Ydata tis Stygos). Instead, this time we have decided to approach the mountain from the Ski resort of Kalavryta and move towards the highest peak of Chelmos, Psili Koryfi 2.355 m.
Aroania, also known as Helmos or Chelmos, is a mountain range in Achaea, Peloponnese, Greece. At 2,355 m elevation, Aroania is the third highest mountain of the Peloponnese, after Taygetus and Kyllini, and the highest in Achaea. The largest town near the mountain is Kalavryta. The municipal unit Aroania took its name from the mountain.
Aroania is situated in southeastern Achaea, near the border with Corinthia. The slightly higher Kyllini mountain is about 15 km to its east, separated from Aroania by the valley of the river Olvios. The mountain Erymanthos is about 30 km to the west, across the valley of the river Vouraikos. The rivers Krios, Krathis and Vouraikos drain the mountain towards the Gulf of Corinth in the north. The river Aroanios drains the mountain towards the southwest, to the Ionian Sea.
Although the weather report was not optimal for the day, we have decided to give it a try to climb Chelmos (Helmos) via the most classic route, which starts from the Ski resort of Kalavryta.
See more Winter Mountaineering ascents in the Peloponnese region here:
- Winter Mountaineering climb on Nisi peak (Arête of Chelmos)
- Mount Kyllini (Ziria) Winter Ascent
- Small Mount Kyllini Ziria
- Mount Oligyrtos
- Taygetos Winter Mountaineering ascent
Kalavryta ski resort
Being the second largest ski resort in Greece, it is located in a breathtaking fiery alpine landscape. Due to its close proximity to Athens and to its first-class facilities many skiers visit it throughout the ski season. Here, the famous black and red runs of Styga challenge even the most expert skiers.
Kalavryta ski resort boasts 12 ski runs (2 difficult, 2 intermediate, 6 easy & 2 very easy) of 20km in length, 2 chair lifts and 5 ski lifts, special grounds for snowboarding and extreme games, and other winter attractions, such as a special moguls ski run, and a snowboard park. Visitors at Chelmos (Helmós) mountain can also find coffee shops, snack bars, restaurants, ski rental facilities and sporting goods, organized ski school and First Aid Station.
Kalavryta Ski Resort – Chelmos Mountain Hut -Aristarchos Telescope
The first part of the route was relatively easy and there was not any technical and/or difficult climb. Actually, the only difficulty we had was the thick fog and the periodic snowfall. Winds were blowing only on some instances and not higher than 30 km/h.
While we were hiking up we would eventually come across with other fellow sportsmen and sportswomen, though they were enjoying some Skiing or snowboarding activities. about 1 hour and 20 minutes since our departure, we came across the Chelmos Mountain Hut that unfortunately is not in function for several years now. From that point an on, we had to hike up through even thicker fog, but when there was a small window of clear sky we could enjoy the stunning views.
Almost 1 hour and 40 minutes since the moment we have left the parking lot, we had the first view of the breathtaking Aristarchos Telescope.
The Aristarchos telescope was constructed and was inaugurated in the summer of 2007. The field of view is about 10 arcmin in diameter at the sideport, and 1 degree diameter at the Cassegrain focus. The telescope can reach a limiting magnitude of V~24 in an hour of observation on a dark night, while the limiting magnitude for spectroscopy is about V~19 with the low resolution ATS spectrograph.
As of November 2015, the Aristarchos telescope has become a full member in the Trans-National Access program of the Optical Infrared Co-ordination Network (OPTICON), funded by FP7 and Horizon 2020.
Aristarchus of Samos or Aristarchos (in Greek Αρίσταρχος) (310 BC – 230 BC) was a mathematician, philosopher and astronomer, sometimes refered to as the Greek Copernicus. He was born on the island of Samos and was the first to propose a heliocentric model of the solar system, a hypothesis violently rejected by colleagues and fellow citizens since it was displacing the Earth from the center of the universe (geocentric model). The latter was largely affected by the ideas of Aristotle and Ptolemy.
Aristarchus’ model was put aside for almost 18 centuries for many reasons (Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe, Simon Singh, Fourth Estate, 2005) when it was finally revived, developed and fully confirmed by Copernicus and Brahe. Aristarchus was a copious writer but only one of his works has survived, which is based on a geocentric view of the Cosmos. The title of his treatise was “On the Sizes and Distances of the Sun and the Moon” and it was published in Oxford in 1688. Using correct geometric arguments, he deduced that the Moon’s diameter was one third that of the Earth’s, while the Sun’s diameter was 20 times that of the Moon, since their apparent angular sizes seen from the Earth were just the same. Although his reasoning was correct, his results were erroneous due to lack of accurate observations.
Following Eratosthenes’ calculations of the circumference of the Earth, he concluded that the Moon’s circumference was 14000 km, its true value being only about 11000 km. The fact that the Sun is larger than the Earth was taken as a mere indication of a heliocentric model. The work “On a System of the Cosmos” has been ascribed to Aristarchus. We know via citations in the writings of other scientists that he presented another book in favour of a heliocentric universe, though little evidence can be found about the origin of his ideas on this model.
Aristarchos Telescope – Psili Koryfi 2.355 m.
As soon we have reached the Aristarchos Telescope we have had a short break in order to have a snack and some water. Aristarchos Telescope is located at an altitude of 2340 m (22˚ 11′ 46″ East, 37˚ 59′ 04″ North) and on that point the winds were blowing rather hard. Therefore our break was rather short and soon after we have moved in order to conquest the highest point of Chelmos, Pisi Kofyfi 2.355 meters above sea level.
From Aristarchos Telescope towards Psili Koryfi the climb gets a bit more demanding, but not difficult. There are only a couple of points that the climber should pay a bit more attention but are easy to be crossed.
Everything was covered with the beautiful snow-white colour and most of the time our visibility was rather low due to thick fog. In fact the fog was so thick and our visibility so low that once we have reached a plateau named “epano kabos” we had to take a rather uncomfortable decision to return back. Though, this decision was not that difficult to take because we had already seen some nice areas where we could go for an actual alpine climb, something we enjoy much more compared to the simple reach of the highest point of a mountain.
Climbing on the top of an Unnamed Peak of Chelmos via a steep Couloir.
Having decided to pull off the plug just few meters away from Psili Koryfi gave us the opportunity to have some fun with some controlled self arrest techniques and some steep climb in an unnamed pick via a couloir which was mostly covered with neve (consolidated snow) and on some parts with hard ice.
Actually, this was the best part of the entire day because we have had the chance to practice our techniques of self arresting and of course to enjoy a beautiful steep but not too long climb.
In parts and due to the harsh weather conditions (snowfall and wind) it felt like we were climbing in the Scottish mountains. For this climb I was using the following main pieces of gear:
- Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 35–45 lt
- The North Face Verbera
- Salewa Tec-X Ixe Axe
- Rock Empire Macki crampons
- Olympus Outdoor Snow pickets
- Garmin Dakota 20 GPS device
- Black Diamond Big XP Belay device
- Simond 2-in-1 Mountaineering Gloves
The way we have arranged the climb was the traditional one which means that the leading person was climbing up to the point of fixing a belay (either on the rock or with a snow picket) and the rest were following up. We needed to rope extensions and two belay points in order to reach the top of this pick.
Details of the climb:
- Location: Aroania Mountains / Chelmos (Helmos)
- Starting Point: Kalavryta Ski Resort
- Ending Point: Psili Koryfi (High Peak) 2.355 m.
- Trail Signs: No real signs during winter but easy to identify the route
- Minimum Elevation: 966 m
- Maximum Elevation: 2.495 m.
- Total Distance: 10 km
- Difficulty: Easy
- Water Features: None during winter time
Bellow you can see the route we have followed on a map and on 3D:
See more Winter Mountaineering ascents in the Peloponnese region here: