It has been quite some time since the very first post here on the Olympus Mountaineering blog, and so far it has been a really nice “journey”.
I personally, enjoy all kind of outdoor activities in Greece, from Winter Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Wild Camping up to Thru-Hikes and I am certainly glad when people from abroad get in contact with the Olympus Mountaineering blog in order to receive various information for the Greek mountains.
Few days ago, a person from Poland got in touch with us and kindly asked if it would be an option to join us on our next mountaineering activity. Although, I rarely accept to go on the mountains with people I do not know, after a short chat, I understood this person was serious enough and had enough knowledge for a winter mountaineering activity.
My initial wish was to go on Mount Parnassos, and especially on Gerontovrachos in order to climb one of the couloirs that lead to the Gerontovrachos peak. Though, due to the high avalanche risk (4/5), I decided to go for a simple winter hike on Mount Helicon.
Mount Helicon is a mountain in the region of Thespiai in Boeotia, Greece, celebrated in Greek mythology. With an altitude of 1,749 metres (5,738 ft), it is located approximately 10 kilometres (6 mi) from the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth. Some researchers maintain that Helicon was also the Greek name of mount Rocca Salvatesta in Sicily as a river started from it was called also Helikon.
Agia Anna Village – Mount Helicon Peak (Paliovouna)
There are numerous hikes that have been outlined around Mount Elikonas and will allow you to get a real feel of the nature and life around this venerable mountain. The route we have decided to follow is the one that starts from the picturesque village, Agia Anna. The paths starts right from the central square of the village and at the beginning follows a dirt road till the beginning of the forest.
It was about 500 meters since the moment we left the village of Agia Anna, when we came across the first snow. The snow quality was rather poor and while we were moving on higher elevation it was getting deeper and deeper.
The route from Agia Anna till Elikonas peak, is considered a relatively easy route, with no technical difficulties. Though, due to the heavy snowfall of the previous days, the ascent was rather tiring. Breaking trail on deep snow is never fun.
Due to the deep snow, and for the fact we were only two hikers, breaking trail on deep snow was a rather tiring operation. Therefore, our main goal was to move as efficient as possible and therefore on some parts we moved slightly off-trail, so we could avoid the deep snow “traps” (deep cavities covered from snow).
The company was excellent, and we were able to discuss a lot about Greece, Poland, Europe and of course about mountaineering activities and personal experiences.
As described earlier, usually this route is a relative easy route without any technical difficulty. Of course, depending on the snow conditions, this can be come a very tough and sometimes dangerous for accidents hike.
Under normal circumstances and good conditions, in order to reach the Paliovouna peak from Agia Anna, one needs about 3 hours. In our case, we have been snow hiking for about 3 hours and 30 minutes and we were only about at an altitude of 1.500 meters above sea level. This means, that we needed and additional 250 meters of elevation gain in order to reach the peak. At that point, and in the midst of a geopolitical conversation, we took the decision to turn back, because there was a lot of fog on the mountain and in combination of the deep snow, the winter hike was not pleasant any more.
Although the conditions for such a snow hike were poor, the company was good and enjoyable. Hopefully, next time, we will be able to enjoy one of the many snow-covered Greek peaks.
Other important hikes on Mount Helicon:
1. Boboko – Loutsa – Koliedes (or Kapelo). On the 4th kilometre between Analipsi to Elikonas, you will find a sign for hikers that leads through a thick forest on a 4.5-hour, medium-level hike, at a height of 800 to 1480 meters.
2. Boboko – Profitis Elias. Again on the 4th kilometre between Analipsi and Elikonas a sign reveals the way up the fir-laden slopes through a paved path, taking you to the church of Profitis Elias after 1.5 hours. This is considered an easy hike.
3. Boboko – Xirovouni. From the same starting point as above, there is a path that goes up to Xirovouni which offers a spectacular view of Livadia and the plain of Copais. This easy route takes 1.5 hours to complete.
4. Profitis Elias – Loutsa Tzavela – Ronies – Megali Loutsa or Elikonas. Moving beyond the Church of Profitis Elias, cross the street towards Loutsa Tzavela and through the slopes until Ronies. This will connect you to path number 22 which takes to the main square of Elikonas village. Or you can go to Ano Ronies (upper Ronies) turning left when you meet path number 22, hiking for 30 more minutes. Another left once there will take you to Megali Loutsa for an amazing view of the Gulf of Corinth below. In both cases the route is of medium difficulty and lasts for about 2.5 hours.
5. Kyriaki – Megali Loutsa (Kapsala). From the main square of Kyriaki hike up the hill on the path that takes you to Megali Loutsa, a trip that lasts a good 3.5 hours.
6. Camp of Paliomilia – Megali Loutsa (Kapsala). Begin your hike right after the camp where you will see the first signposts on the right-hand side. After an hour through the fir trees you reach Balconi, which true to its name offers a great view over the area. Continue through some small lakes for about 3.5 hours until you reach the summit. Medium difficulty.
7. Analipsi – Agios Georgios. The village of Analipsi offers an easy one-hour path that climbs to the church of Agios Georgios where you can relax near a spring and enjoy the stunning few.
8. Profitis Elias – Kolliedes (Kapelo). Here’s a more difficult hike on very steep slopes, recommended for more experienced hikers. The trip between Profitis Elias and Kolliedes will take you 2.5 hours.
9. Arvanitsa – Osios Serafim. For an enjoyable 1.5-hour hike, head out from Arvanitsa to Stavros, then head right on a paved path until you reach the monastery of Osios Serafim.
10. Askri – Ypokrini. Locate the dirt road from Askri that goes to Agios Nikolaos and to the small forest of the Muses until you reach path number 22. At an altitude of 1,100 meters about an hour into your hike you will see a cross. Head right where the road takes you up to the Ypokrini spring, at an altitude of 1,400 meters. You can either head downhill from here to Chaliki or uphill for half an hour to reach Motsara at 1,525 meters. This route is fairly easy to do.
Mount Helicon and Greek Mythology
In Greek mythology, two springs sacred to the Muses were located here: the Aganippe and the Hippocrene, both of which bear “horse” (ἵππος híppos) in their names. In a related myth, the Hippocrene spring was created when the winged horse Pegasus aimed his hoof at a rock, striking it with such force that the spring burst from the spot. On Mount Helicon too was the spring where Narcissus was inspired by his own beauty.
The cult centers on Helicon established in the Valley of the Muses, a fertile valley near Thespiai and Ascra, under the influence of the Hesiodic texts, in Hellenistic times if not before, were visited by Pausanias in the second century CE. He explored the sacred grove by the spring Aganippe thoroughly and left a full description as it then was. He saw images of Eupheme, nurse of the Muses, and of the legendary poet Linus “in a small rock which has been worked into the manner of a cave” (cf. the religious use of grottoes). In the temenos were statues, some by famous masters, of Apollo and Dionysus and famed poets.
Details of the Hike:
- Location: Mount Helicon (Elikonas)
- Starting Point: Agia Anna Village
- Ending Point: 1.500 m. (on Paliovouna)
- Trail Signs: Well signed path
- Minimum Elevation: 824 m
- Maximum Elevation: 1.505 m.
- Total Distance: 9.8 km
- Difficulty: Easy (under normal conditions)
- When to Hike: All year
- Water Features: None (During winter time)
Bellow you can see the route we have followed on a map: