85 – A hike to the top of Mount Athos

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Kavsokalivia

At 7 o clock we left from Skiti Kavsokalivia to start our trip to the summit of the Holy Mountain. After three earlier visits to Athos this was my main goal. Two of my friends, J. and H. had the same urge and soon we were known as the sherpa group within the Athos party of seven. We were in rather good shape. and did already two walks the days before. First from Morphonu to Lavra were we spent the first night and then the beautifull walk from Lavra to Kavsokalivia. The trip to the top started with breakfast on the balcony of the guesthouse.
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Greek coffee, water and two cookies and a tumbnail glas of ouzo. I took one zip but the others were thinking on the things to come and left their glasses untouched. Directly behind the church and the guesthouse was the path. We started climbing and after a while there was a well. We drank the cold water. It was the Well of Akakios named after the founder of Kavsokalivia as a settlement in the early 18th century. We reached the area of Kerasia were they were building a large church with white marble stones. Did they bring the materials to build it bij helicopter or everything by boat and mules? By boat and mule was the only possibility. It was unbelievable because the last day on Athos we saw from the sea the harbour of Kerasia (Kleftiko) with a very steep path up the mountain.
We took a rest near a well on 700 meters. I tried to dry my t-shirt in the sun. It was a beautiful clear day.
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Finally at 9.40 hours we reached the crossroads were the real climb starts. There was a path down to Karoulia and if you walked ahead it leads to Skiti Anne. A sign said that it was a 3,5 hours trip to the summit. I took a smaller rucksack and left the bigger one in the bushes. At that moment 3 pilgrims decsended the path. It was a greek ”papa”, sixty years old who slept the night at the hut of Panagia at 1500 meters with his two companions. The day before they had reached the top and did their prayers there. After half an hour of climbing we took a rest onder the trees. We ate dolmas and bread. The view was already spectacular but we had to go on. A monk came singin of the mountain as I struggled to get higher. It was there that my moral was very low, the guys were in front and not in sight.
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I was out breath and considered to turn back but then, to my surprise I saw the Panagia. I walked the last meters and reached the hut. There were matrasses and beds and the fireplace was still smoking.
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We took water with a bucket from the well. At this point the mountain was bare with a single tree and if you looked up you saw the stony peak.
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We moved along and at 13.10 hours we were at 2026 meter and then there was only the blue sky. We made it! Three meters before the top in between large boulders I saw a small bird. It was strange because we did not see one bird the whole day. Was it a sign? You could expect to see the son of god or his mother who already spend 3 days en 3 nights on the summit surrounded by angelic choirs talking with the hermit Maximos of Kavsokalivia. The bird flew away and after avoiding a large segment of snow, I was huggin the boys. We were deligthed that we were there.
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The stunning view, the green land of Athos, the blue seas wherever you looked. The strange somewhat threathening feeling that you are not surrounded by anything, which immediately dissapearred as you entered the chapel of Metamorphosis Sotiros.
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We made pictures of ourselves with the tall iron cross. We got connection with my brother W. who was in the neigberhood of the Skite of the prophet Elijah at that time. It was not quiet because many airplanes flew over.
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We left the top at 13.35 o clock and in one hour we were back at Panagia. We felt our knees and other parts of the body but rather quick we reached the crossroads at 16.15 o clock. We knew already that there was no place to sleep at Skiti Anni but we tried anyway when we arrived at 17.30 o clock. We were pretty exhausted because of the last descend which was tough. The friendly german speaking Archondariki of Anni did his best to arrange something and we got support from a party of pelgrims with their “papa” who were impressed by our journey but we then had to sleep on the floor.
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We decided to move on to the Monastery of St Paul. After 12 hours we arrived at Paulou at 19.00 hours. We had our own room, a quickshower and for dinner: cold white beans in tomatosauce, with dolmas and white wine which we ate in the kitchen. Such a perfect day!
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16 Responses to 85 – A hike to the top of Mount Athos

  1. William says:

    Nice article and beautifull pictures ! I think this is first article about an trip to the top on the internet !
    From now on I wil be numbering the posts on the weblog, so it will be easier to find the old blogs.
    William, 19/5

  2. hv says:

    Zenx, en nu maar afwachten of we wat buitenlandse hits krijgen.

  3. jeltsin says:

    Dear friends. I turned around in my grave after reading this astonishing story. I will tell my friend Poetin to send more russian monks to walk the way you three did! What beautiful pictures!

  4. Итак, в путь says:

    Сегодня на Святом Афоне действуют 20 монастырей, в том числе один русский, один болгарский и один сербский. Во времена же своей славы Святой Афон включал 180 православных монастырей. Первые монашеские скиты появились здесь еще в VIII веке н.э., а статус автономии под покровительством Византийской империи республика получила в 972 году. Через несколько столетий Византия потеряла былую силу напором крестоносцев с одной стороны и тюркских племен с другой… Афону пришлось существовать самостоятельно, терпеть гонения со стороны папства, платить подати завоевателям региона. В результате «выжили» всего 25 монастырей. Лишь к середине ХIХ века, после провозглашения независимости Греции, для Святой Горы наступили мирные времена. Ein unglaublige Leistung.
    .Итак, в путь

  5. herman says:

    vertaling van het russisch

    Today on holy Afone act 20 monastery, including one Russian, one Bulgarian and one Serbian. However, in the times of its glory of saint Of afon were included 180 orthodox monastery. The first monastic monasteries appeared here even in THE VIII century A.D., and republic obtained status of autonomy under the patronage of byzantine empire in 972 years. Through several centuries Byzantium lost byluyu yield force of crusaders from one side and Turkish tribes with another… For afonu it was necessary to exist independently, to suffer persecutions from the side of the Papacy, to pay tax to the conquerors of region. As a result “survived” only 25 monastery. Only to the middle KH.IKH of century, after the proclamation of the independence of Greece, for the holy mountain came peacetimes. Ein unglaublige Leistung. Itak, into the way

  6. fanta says:

    Beste broer,
    Ik wist niet dat jij het Russisch machtig was.
    Fanta

  7. herman says:

    Dan heb je mijn grieks nog niet gezien:
    Ο καλύτερος αδελφός, δεν έχω ξέρει ότι ήσαστε ρωσικός ισχυρός. Fanta

  8. herman says:

    Moppenmonnik Fantanopoulos Hypothecou!
    You got me!
    De eerste keer heb je geplakt maar dit laatste bericht aardig gecomponeerd. Ook met babelfish?

    Dear brother, 4 is frightened 4 must admit that I was one it dressed into the Russian text Athos-weblog. But I is confident you he knows for that in order to appreciate joke. Bye, your brother F.

  9. fanta says:

    Het is een wonder. Dat babelfish. Eindelijk herstel van het onrecht dat de Almachtige ons heeft aangedaan. Toen met die Toren van Babel.
    Fanta

  10. herman says:

    Beste Yves
    Wij liepen van Kavsokalivia naar de top en terug via Skiti Anni naar Paulou in 12 uur. We waren redelijk getraind maar daarna wel behoorlijk moe en blij dat er de volgende dag alleen nog maar teruggevaren werd naar Ouranopolis. Het kan korter in circa 8 uur als je van Skiti Anni begint en daar ook weer terugkeert. Leuker is het om ergens te beginnen en ergens anders uit te komen. bv Anni top Paulou circa 9 uur. Of proberen te slapen in het op 700 m hoge Kerasia ( ik heb geen contact maar het schijnt te kunnen) dan naar de top en terug naar Anni, Paulou of zelfs Dionysiou.

  11. José says:

    Dear Friends,
    The storie is fantastic! And the picture too!
    Is the only blog or website that talk about the Athos summit. Did you see the Lemmos Island or the planicies of Troy?
    I am planning go in 2009. Could you send me a walk or hiking map from the Athos. Because I probably will go alone and I prefered read the footpath early.

  12. José says:

    Thanks

  13. Erwin Mantingh says:

    Herman, Met veel plezier je verhaal gelezen over de beklimming en het visioen van de blauwe rotslijster op de top (overtuigende identificatie, hoor!). Ook me verder vergaapt aan de mooie afbeeldingen en interessante info. Ga zo door!

  14. Snowy says:

    Keep up the good work.

  15. Sean Surlow says:

    Wonderful photo essay on hiking to the top of Mount Athos.

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