Hiking and Scramble Tour of Great Saint
“We are going up this way?” I asked, in slight disbelief, looking at the cliffs. There was no path to be seen and my heart was already pounding from walking up the trail to the foot of the actual rocks. From this point on, it seemed no human was meant to go further and I was seriously debating whether or not it had been such a great idea to come on this advanced hiking and scramble tour to reach the lookout of Great Saint.
“Of course, that sounds like a great idea,” I heard myself say when asked if I wanted to join a little adventure tour. What I didn’t consider then was the fact that I was not only afraid of heights, but had also never climbed anything in my life. Well, apart from the small rock I had managed to climb up the previous day to watch the sunset. But while getting up that rock had been quite easy, getting down turned out to be a serious problem, especially after the sun had vanished.
Today there was at least some sunlight, I was not alone and our mountain guide Lazaros came quite prepared with a bag full of climbing equipment. But standing at the foot of the rocks and remembering my experience from yesterday not only left me wondering about how to actually get up, but even more so how to get down again. Reaching the cross had looked quite doable from the village, especially because it was located in a dip, but from up-close things looked quite different all of a sudden…
Trail to the Great Saint Rock
While the face of Great Saint Rock looked like a wall from Kalambaka Town, I was expecting the backside to appear rather like a sloped ramp. But as it turned out, the shady backside of the rocks was still so steep that walking seemed plain impossible. Even though the gap between the rocks eventually became our path, it still took me a while to fully convince myself that we would actually survive this day…
Hiking, Scrambling and Climbing
Luckily, our mountain guide did clearly not share my concerns at all and with a great level of confidence he started preparing all our equipment. And before I even knew it, we were hiking on a short rope, scrambling on hands and feet, climbing up the gap between the rocks and finally walking via ferrata style with a lanyard along the edge of the cliffs.
To my greatest surprise, we actually made it to the lookout and, more importantly, we even managed to abseil and climb our way down into the valley again. The amazing thing about the entire climb was that with every single step it seemed we were gaining the much needed self-assurance, and by the time we arrived at the bottom I actually wished we would have made it to the real top of the rock, just like the goats.
The Mountain Goats of Meteora
While the entire climb up to Great Saint went according to plan, meeting the mountain goats by the lookout was quite an unexpected event. They were already there when we arrived. They had been watching us the whole time. And the closer we got, we actually realized that the goats were shaking their heads at us while bleating as if they were laughing right into our faces.
It really seemed that they were looking at us in disgrace, speechless at our pathetic inability to climb up the mountains without modern equipment. And just to mess with us, they decided not only to laugh but to actually parade along the cliff edges and climb almost vertical faces of the rocks. It was obviously impossible to keep up with these fearless climbers, and reluctantly accepting defeat we decided to rather focus on the amazing views of the area.
Stunning Views of Great Saint Rock
While the entire climb up the Great Saint Rock was exciting and the encounter with the laughing goats was really interesting to say the least, the actual highlight of the trip became the stunning views. Rising up some 400 meters above the valley, this tallest rock of Meteora came not only with the perfect panoramic views of Kalambaka Town and Kastraki Village, but also with a hint of historic flair.
Great Saint was apparently once known as the Tower of Aghia and in ancient times functioned as a natural acropolis for the local villagers. This rock not only guaranteed protection in case of an attack, but also provided the best overview of the whole Meteora area. For us, it became the perfect place to enjoy the views of the valley between the rocks, especially the one with the curiously rising Arachti Pinnacle in the middle.
Meteora Climbing in Conclusion
It was overall a really eventful and exciting afternoon in Meteora which, despite all early concerns, we actually managed to survive. Surprisingly enough, but we went from “We are going up this way?” to “Can we do this again and reach the real top?” Well, it might have been just our egos talking, still incapable of fully accepting defeat to the laughing goats. But regardless of the moral beating and the early struggle with the climb, the whole excursion put a big smile on my face and that was a really good sign…
Tip: This organized adventure tour was easy enough for beginners like me and a really enjoyable experience. Just make sure to wear good shoes with a decent grip on the rocks and try not to pay too much attention to the laughing goats.
Many thanks to George from Visit Meteora for inviting me to participate in their Hiking and Scramble Tour of Great Saint. All views and opinions portrayed in this post are, however, my very own.
Would you dare to go on an adventure climb, even if you had goats laughing at you?