Monsters of the Wind – A Mixed Climbing Attempt of the South-West Ridge – Mount Ortholithi

For many years, I have been looking at the South-West ridge of Mount Ortholithi and I was always wondering how it would be to climb it. About two years ago, just before covid would reach Greece and lockdowns would be imposed, I had the chance to go, climb and free a new route which I named as Monsters of the Wind.

Since the moment I climbed Monsters of the Wind , I was wondering if it would ever be possible to try this route in winter conditions. Although this year in Greece we had a quite cold winter with quite some snowfalls, Mount Ortholithi is located in a rather dry area where snowfalls are extremely rare. Nevertheless, in mid-March of the current year we experienced and unexpected fall and I have noticed that the area of Mount Ortholithi would be covered with snow.

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Olive trees, snow and Mount Ortholithi

As soon I realised that  Mount Ortholithi would be covered with snow, I soon arranged with on of my climbing buddies to drive to the area and see if we could climb to the top via Monsters of the Wind.

It was a great decision, because as soon we arrived in the parking spot, we had a magnificent view towards mount Ortholithi. It was like a dream, becoming reality and I was very excited about!


See more hiking/mountaineering routes around this area:


About Mount Ortholithi

Ortholithi Mountain is situated in the prefecture of Greece, Argolis. One part of the mountain is in Argolis and the North face is in Troizinia. The highest Peak of Ortholithi is 1.105 meters above sea level. From the top of the mountain the view of the sea side is breathtaking and you can easily see the capital of Greece, Athens.


Monsters of the Wind IV+/V- UIAA 500 m. – First Ascent of the South-West Ridge of Mount Ortholithi

On February 16, 2020, me a.k.a. Olympus Mountaineering, together with M. Tsokas and M. Karagiannis we have climbed the entire South-West ridge of Mount Ortholithi.

On March 13, 2022, me a.k.a. Olympus Mountaineering, together with C. Toutoutzhs, we attempted to have the first winter attempt of this route.


Download for free the complete route description and Topo map


General route information

Monsters of the Wind” (IV+/V-, 500 m.) follows the south-western ridge of Mount Ortholithi, offering an atmospheric climb overlooking the Saronic Gulf and Ermionida. The route can be described as an “adventure route” with great potential for free route selection. The route also does not present any difficulties in terms of safety with the use of temporary protection.


Approach

From Athens one needs to drive towards Epidavros and from there should follow the road to Ermionida. Just after Trachia village, should follow the road to Karatzas village and from there to Choriza.

Total distance from Athens: 150 km

About 2 km before arriving in Choriza ( 37.520145, 23.233478 ), there is a dirt road where we can leave the car and start the approach hike.

The approach hike is an easy hike of about 10 minutes.

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Mount Ortholithi
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Approach hike
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Approach hike
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Mount Ortholithi as seen from the approach
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Monsters of the Wind – First Winter Attempt

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Monsthers of the Wind – First wall

At the base of the route

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Monsters of the Wind – Beginning of the route
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Monsters of the Wind – Pitch 1 Mixed climb

Getting ready for the Climb

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Getting ready
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Gear selection

Monsters of the Wind – First Winter Ascent attempt

The route starts with the first pitch (35 m.) exactly at the base of the south-west ridge (37.525356, 23.234392) of a IV slab. Shortly before the slab is climbed, and as we enter a dihedral, where I think the climb in mixed conditions is about M3+/M4.

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Starting the route
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Petzl Quakr at the beginning of the route

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Monsters of the Wind – First Winter Attempt – Starting point

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Here we go
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Ice tool placement
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Mixed Climbing
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Route is getting serious
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Good placement
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Looking from above
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View while mixed climbing – Mount Didymo
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Gear placement – Sling in Tunnel
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M3/M4 mixed climbing
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Mixed Climbing
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At the Crux

Wrong Gear and Retreating the route

Before starting the route, I took the decision (at the end it was a wrong decision), to not get on the mountain my La Sportiva Nepal boots with the Cassin Alpinist Tech crampons, but instead to wear the Verbera boots with the strap-on Rock Empire crampons. My decision was based on the fact that only the first pitch would be demanding and there would be a long hike for the return.

Based on these two factors, I left behind what I should not have left. While I was climbing in mixed terrain, I realised that the Verbera boots were way too soft and not stiff enough in order to support me vertically on the wall. In addition, the dual point strap-on Rock Empire crampons were not the best for correct crampon placement on the rock.


Don’t forget to check out more Winter and Mixed Climbing activities here:


The more I was climbing, I was realising that my balance was not good at all with this gear and at some point I found a bomb-proof tunnel from where I retreated the route. Unfortunately, my dream to ascent this route with winter conditions did not become a reality, but due to the fact this particular type of climbing (mixed climbing and fully trad) is very demanding, the decision to retreat the route was wise.

Lesson learned: Always get the best available gear you have and never leave them behind.

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B2 boots + Strap-On Crampons = Fail for mixed climbing
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Abseiling

Gear & Equipment

For this trip, I was carrying the following main gear:


Before you leave this blog check out the following map

Below: This map marks all the mountaineering adventures that have been featured on Olympus Mountaineering so far, including several Sport climbing crags – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.

6 thoughts on “Monsters of the Wind – A Mixed Climbing Attempt of the South-West Ridge – Mount Ortholithi

    1. Thank you Maggie.

      Mixed climbing can be very exciting but in the same time very demanding too.

      This specific route, is best to be done during a nice winter day otherwise, during summer time, in the area gets very warm.

      I agree about the decision. Although I have many years of experience with winter mountaineering activities, it seems that I underestimated the seriousness of the route during winter conditions and I brought not the best boots for such climb.

      Anyway, indeed, mountain will always be there, but I am afraid it will be very difficult to find again this mountain fully covered with snow.

      Thanks again Maggie and I wish you all the best.

      Like

    1. It was indeed beautiful and quite a rare opportunity to visit this mountain fully covered with snow.

      We learn every day, although sometimes we might think we have enough experience.

      Thanks for reading, your comment and looking forward to your Greek adventures in the near future.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, and I am pleased to know you enjoy the content of the Olympus Mountaineering Blog.

      With regards on how to climb safely, the best advice I can give you is to either join your local mountaineering/climbing club or to seek expert’s advice and perhaps to start a course.

      Upon that, with a lot of practice you gain experience and the experience leads you to take better decisions, and therefore to climb with safety in mind.

      Liked by 1 person

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