The peak Prophet Elias or Ali Baba, with an altitude of 1849 meters, is the highest of the mountain complex of Vrontous and became known mainly in ski circles of earlier decades when it acquired one of the first organized ski centers of Greece (1975). Approaching the Lailia ski resort, however, one cannot overlook the huge granite formations that dominate the south side of the summit. At the end of the 80s, mainly climbers from Serres created, with the meager means available to them, routes of particular aesthetics and style, setting standards that dictate the climber’s minimal intervention in this unique natural landscape. Unfortunately at that time winter climbing equipment was still economically and commercially inaccessible and as a result it wasn’t possible to “enjoy” the aquatic formations created due to the peculiarity of granite not to “absorb” water and the low temperatures observed in the area.
Three decades later, and after an intensive three-year exploration of the mountain and recording of the prevailing conditions, snow-ice routes were created in various parts of the mountain. These routes are located on the north side of the mountain and specifically in the area of ”Kallithea”, where from mid-December to the end of March – always depending on the weather – ascents are made either on ice or mixed routes (ice-rock). One can access the routes either through the chalet parking following the trail (30 minutes’ walk) or following the signs at the intersections towards the area of Kallithea (when the road before the ski center towards “Mpalta-tsair” is open to vehicles). Because of its easy accessibility (even the most remote northern areas do not exceed a half-hour walk), the mountain can be a place of training and preparation for those aiming to visit areas such as the Alps (granite) or to take up ice climbing. The area is even ideal for summer bouldering in the shade of the beech forest that covers the rocks. Just 27km from the city of Serres there is a “small” climbing paradise open to all, all year round.
Serresaction.gr was created by a group of friends in order to showcase mountain activities in the prefecture of Serres. The prefecture of Serres consists of a valley surrounded by the mountains of Belles and Aggistro in the north, Vrontou and Menikio in the east, Paggaio and Kerdylia in the south and Kroussia and Vertiskos in the west. It is an ideal place for alternative tourism and outdoor sports activities. This project is an effort to promote the hiking – climbing – bike paths with credibility and detail but also to get in touch with the underground world of speleology and mountaineering.
Text and photos: Xronis Sioulas, Serresaction.gr