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Mount Ossa (Kissavos)

Mount Ossa, alternative Kissavos, is a mountain in the Larissa regional unit, in ThessalyGreece. It is 1,978 metres (6,490 ft) high and is located between Pelion to the south and Olympus to the north, separated from the latter by the Vale of Tempe.

In Greek mythology, the Aloadaes are said to have attempted to pile Mount Pelion on top of Mount Ossa in their attempt to scale Olympus.[3]

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Mount Ossa (Kissavos)

About Avalanches in Greece

If you think avalanches in Greece can’t happen, you’re not alone. The truth however is the opposite. The footage of this particular avalanche, on Mount Ossa (Kissavos), was shot on February 20th, 2017. From the video we estimate this to be a class 2 avalanche (in addition, it appears that the avalanche was remotely triggered). Both George and Yiannis, the skiers who were on the slope at the time of the incident, were unharmed. Although relatively small, this avalanche could have buried one or both of them, and could have proved fatal.

Subsequently, we were unsure how to proceed with the video. Should we release it, or keep it hidden? Mistakes were made by our group. Sharing the video is a little embarrassing for all of us. In addition, we were concerned that the video might turn people away from mountaineering ski. However, we feel a responsibility to communicate with honesty about the risks involved with this activity. So we’ve decided to publish it.

To sum up, let us state with emphasis: avalanches in Greece are a reality! Therefore, caution must be exercised while pursuing ski touring and ski mountaineering. Above all, safety must be priority one.

To learn more about avalanches, read this book: Avalanche Essentials: a Step-By-Step System for Safety and Survival. After that, inquire about avalanche safety courses at your local mountaineering shop.

Constantine Papanicolaou
Director – Frozen Ambrosia

Ένα μήνυμα από τον Γιώργο και τον Ιωάννη

A beautiful day skiing above the Aegean Sea
A beautiful day skiing above the Aegean Sea

Όπως πολλές φορές έχουμε επαναλάβει, η Ελλάδα, με πάνω από 40 κορυφές άνω των 2.000 μέτρων και χιονοκάλυψη πάνω από 4 μήνες τον χρόνο, αποτελεί έναν ιδανικό προορισμό για το άθλημα του ορειβατικού σκι. Ωστόσο δεν θα πρέπει να ξεχνάμε τους κινδύνους που αυτή η δραστηριότητα εμπεριέχει, καθώς είναι μια δραστηριότητα που υλοποιείται στην ύπαιθρο, σε ορεινό και χιονισμένο περιβάλλον. Ο πιο σοβαρός από αυτούς τους κινδύνους είναι ο κίνδυνος της χιονοστιβάδας.

On the summit of Kissavos after an easy one hour hike.
On the summit of Kissavos after an easy one hour hike.

Οι σφοδρές κατά τους χειμερινούς μήνες χιονοπτώσεις, οι απότομες μεταβολές της θερμοκρασίας, και οι παράγοντες του ανέμου, του προσανατολισμού, του υψομέτρου και της κλήσης μιας πλαγιάς καθορίζουν τις πιθανότητες αλλά και το μέγεθος του επικείμενου κίνδυνου χιονοστιβάδων. Το βίντεο που ακολουθεί δεν σκηνοθετήθηκε αλλά αποτελεί ένα πραγματικό ντοκουμέντο. Ένα συμβάν στο οποίο ενεπλάκησαν έμπειροι ορειβάτες – χιονοδρόμοι, οι οποίοι βρέθηκαν στον Κίσσαβο στα τέλη της προηγούμενης χιονοδρομικής σεζόν για να πραγματοποιήσουν μια κατάβαση αναψυχής.

The north gullies of Kissavos. Prime terrain for avalanches due to wind loaded snow.
The north gullies of Kissavos. Prime terrain for avalanches due to wind loaded snow.

Επαληθεύει το πόσο εύκολα, αιφνίδια και σοβαρά μπορεί να εξελιχθεί ένα περιστατικό  χιονοστιβάδας ακόμα και στα Ελληνικά βουνά. Κρίνεται λοιπόν απαραίτητη η ενημέρωση αλλά και η εκπαίδευση που όλοι οι λάτρεις των χειμερινών / ορεινών αθλημάτων όπως η ορειβασία, η χιονοδρομία, η χειμερινή αναρρίχηση και φυσικά το ορειβατικό σκι και splitboard θα πρέπει να έχουν προς αποφυγή αλλά και αντιμετώπιση του υπαρκτού αυτού κινδύνου.


Γιώργος Κλαουδάτος
Εκπαιδευτής χιονοδρομίας E.N.S.A Chamonix
(Ecole Nationale du Ski et Alpinisme)

Γιάννης Κοτιλέας
Εκπαιδευτής χιονοδρομίας ΤΕΦΑΑ Αθηνών,
Μέλος ISIA & Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance

Translated – A Message From George and Yiannis

We have often repeated that Greece, with over 40 peaks over 2,000 meters and snow cover over 4 months a year, is an ideal destination for the sports of ski mountaineering. However, we should not forget the dangers this activity involves. After all, this is an activity that takes place in the backcountry, in a mountainous and snowy environment. Therefore, the most serious risk we face is the risk of avalanche.

Winter snowfall, sudden changes in temperature and wind, orientation, altitude, and slope factors, will all determine the probability and the magnitude of the avalanche danger. For example, please watch the video attached to this post, which was not directed. It is a real document. An event involving experienced mountaineers, skiing on the mountain of Kissavos in North Greece, in late February of the 2017  ski season. This for them was a leisure trip.

The documentation of this incident, on the mountain Kissavos, verifies how easily and suddenly avalanches in Greece can develop. Above all, it is necessary to share this incident so that all fans of winter sports such as mountaineering, skiing, winter climbing and, of course, mountaineering ski and split-boarding, can better educate themselves to address this risk.


George Klaoudatos
Ski Instructor E.N.S.A Chamonix
(Ecole Nationale du Ski et Alpinisme)

Yiannis Kotileas
Ski Instructor – School of Physical Education and Sport Science, Athens
Member ISIA & Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance

More About Winter in Greece

One of the most surprising things about Greece is how close the mountains are to the major cities. For example, three quarters of the county lives within a 2 hour drive of world class backcountry ski touring. Due to the recent break-though in ultra lightweight gear, Greece has become a world-class destination for ski touring and split-boarding. Despite the risk of avalanches in Greece, the activities of ski touring and split-boarding are a must for every mountain adventurer.

Greece is a place that inspires the human soul. Certainly, for skiers and snowboarders, to visit the same mountains that you learned about as a child is an experience that is completely unique. Imagine spending the night on Mt Olympos, waking up to the sunrise across the Aegean sea, then skiing run right next to the Throne of Zeus. In short, it’s magic! It’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else on the planet.

To watch the full winter adventure in Greece, check out the feature film Frozen Ambrosia.