The perfect time

Updated: Jun 24

Climbing the south ridge of Taygetos having the amazing view of the Messinian gulf on the west.

There is a point in time when everything comes together. When it is just the right time to do things.

For over two years we were planning a winter ascent on mount Taygetos but failed to do it, either because the weather was bad, or because we were unable to match dates, as at that period I was living in Athens and it was tricky for me to organize a last minute's trip to Peloponnese.

An hour's hike before the summit

Leonidas had shown me pictures from a climb he had previously made among with members of the mountaineering club of Kalamata. The route started at Vasiliki's forest and followed the south ridge to Pyramida peak (the highest of Taygetos, 2407m). They had ascended the mountain at night with a full moon and descended the same route during sunrise. The first sunbeams had painted the snow in pink-orange colors and the scenery looked amazing. I wanted very much to do this climb, which was organized by the club traditionally, same period each year.

On April 9th, 2018 the universe colluded and finally, we made it. We were a team of four, me, Leo, and one friend with his daughter. The weather conditions were just perfect and we found ourselves climbing the south ridge late in the afternoon. We reached the summit at night and after a quick break for tea, we nested in our sleeping bags. The sunrise was even more amazing, as the first light shaped the shadow of the Pyramida (pyramid) peak in the sea, a phenomenon which is possible to observe only if you wake up at the summit early in the morning and the visibility is good.

Before sunrise, Stavros still sleeping. It's really cold and windy to get out.

First light comes

The summit's shadow shaped in the Messinian gulf

Leo and Stavros, enjoying the view.

Earlier I had told Leo that I wanted to film the climb but he should help me to carry the essential equipment, and he had agreed. Not only he didn't, but he was hiking so fast that each time I made a drone shot they would leave me hundreds of meters behind. The next morning at the summit, he decided to descend another route, longer than the one we did on the way up. I was really pissed off with him. My backpack was very heavy, so I decided to leave the team and follow the easiest route to the car alone.

The three of them, leave. What a team!

However, it was (and still is) the most beautiful winter climb I have ever made, and I feel glad having shared this with my friend, who 3 years later, climbed his last and most demanding peak. There is no other value in life than the memory of great things we have done with people we have loved and we should never forget this. Life goes on and we are not here forever. At least some of our dreams must come true in this life.

In memory of Leonidas Papadopoulos.

Watch the video:

All rights reserved / Andreas Markou

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