Vardousia - Skorda Mousounitsas - NE. Face

Korre - Hatzirvasani

Mixed, Traditional

The first ascent of the route "Korre - Hatzirvasani" (III 4- M2+, 950m) was realized on 4/2/1980 by D. Korres - V. Hatzirvasanis. It is the first winter route on the northeast face of Skorda Mousounitsas.

The line follows the central couloir of Skorda Mousounitsas and it is one of the most impressive lines of Vardousia, due to its big length, but also one of the most interesting lines, since it offers ice climbing on two vertical icefalls, which should be considered as rather rare given the altitude of the area.

The route starts at the height of 1300m, finishes at 2250m and it is not particularly homogenous, as difficult parts alternate all the time with easy ones that allow parallel movement.

In order to approach the route, one should first get to Zireli site, which is at 1280m, under the peak of Profitis Ilias and beside the road that leads from Mousounitsa to the refuges; there, apart from a characteristic concrete water tower, there is also a small meadow between the trees. At the edge of this meadow starts a big gully, which goes down to Mousounitsa and leads in about 10min to the base of the couloir, at 1300m.

In fact, the route starts at the base of the wall that is found a bit higher inside the couloir. On this wall (1st rock belt), an icefall is usually formed (85°, 25m), at the top of which there are little trees, suitable for the belay. In case the icefall is not shaped, the difficulty comes up to V (25m) and there is often a thin layer of fragile ice. Next, the couloir becomes smooth (25° - 30°), up to the height of 1600m, where a small passage (60°, 10m) leads to the upper crags that seem to be ending under a big triangular rock, at 1750m. To gain this passage, one must take a detour to the right, which involves passing an ice ridge (45°) and then entering in a smooth couloir on the right side of the ridge. The couloir becomes progressively steep (45°) and finally leads to a big open crag (35° at 1850m). From this point the rest of the route is visible; its main characteristic is the huge amphitheatric rock system that blocks the face (2nd rock belt). On its left side, dangerous icicles usually overhang, while at the centre there is an icefall (90°, 12m), at 2000m. At the base of this icefall, one can set a good belay using nuts, but after exiting the icefall there is a crag, usually covered with bad quality snow, on which the belay must be built with pickets or ice axes. After that, the angle becomes 45° until the 3rd rock belt, which can be either gained by a right-to-left detour or climbed in the case that an icefall (70°, 8m) is formed exactly in the middle of the rock belt. Finally, following a few angles around 40° the route finishes on the ridge, at 2250m.

The necessary equipment for this climb consists of 3 ice-screws (for the vertical icy parts), some pitons as well as pickets for the belays above the second icefall. One must be very careful with the first icefall (at the beginning of the route), because, due to the low altitude where it is found (1300m), it might very easily become breakable. In addition, danger for avalanches is extremely increased after snowfalls.

N. Voutyropoulos - S. Moraitinis were the first to repeat this route on 2/1/1997, without use of protection equipment, while they also followed a different exit and in particular a low rock belt (3rd rock belt) (2+ M2).

An interesting variation was realized on 1/1/1998 by K. Tsoulkas - K. Panagos (1 M2), who climbed for 6 pitches the narrow ridge that starts to the left of the 2nd rock belt and met difficulties up to V on rock and up to 65° on snow. This variation is a useful alternative especially in the case that the icefall of the second rock belt is not under good conditions.

Return via the west side of the ridge, by following the steep slopes (45° - 50°, 150m) that go down toward the second plateau of Koprisies. Often, at the end of this slope, there is a small but vertical rock belt (in the cases that it is not covered with snow) and so one should set a sling on a spike and use it to abseil down this rock belt. From there, the direction may be either west, passing next to "Gioni to plai" in the direction of the refuges, or north, going down to Profitis Ilias. This part of return, via Koprisies, becomes tricky in case of bad visibility.

The route

D. Mavropoulos in second ice passage

Source: Anevenontas i. 1 - i. 4, Korfes i. 124, D. Mavropoulos
Photographs: K. Kazdaglis
Translation: E. Katsikerou
Area: Vardousia
Published: 2003-05-01
Modified: 2011-05-27