"Let's meet at the Petrostrouga next weekend," Nektarios suggested when I asked for an interview. The Petrostrouga , the name means stone animal shelter, is a mountain hut, at an altitude of 1940 m on the east side of Mount Olympus.
So I drove early in the morning through Litochoro up the mountain towards Prionia. At the parking lot Gortsia (N 40.102956, O 22.442775) I bobbed up the motorcycle and made me on the way. Circa 2.5 hours should be the ascent, but I strolled through the mountain forest, photographed some chamois and so it took a little longer until I reached the hut.
In 2004 it was renovated by members of the Hellenic Rescue Team (HRT) from Thessaloniki. It is not only a place to rest and sleep, but also the seat of the HRT in the heart of Mount Olympus.
In 1978, the first members met and began with first rescue activities. Since 1994, the HRT has been the official Search and Rescue NGO with headquarters in Thessaloniki. More than 30 branches are scattered across Greece, taking care not only of the rescue in the mountain of victims, but also the rescue of shipwrecked persons, firefighting, earthquake aid and assistance in cases of catastrophes of all kinds. The aid campaigns are not limited to Greece, they do also help abroad. The current alarm status can be found on the
While I am writing this article, he is fortunate to be green "General Standby ".
There is close cooperation with related organizations in other countries. Beyond the exchange of experience, joint trainings take place. For example, the Austrian Bergwacht trained their Greek colleagues at the summits of Mount Olympus. Or the ANENA from France is training rescue measures in avalanche gaps.
In the meantime, some 3,000 volunteers are involved in the organization. Each of them must complete a training lasting two and a half months. There, in addition to a first aid course, the basic knowledge of all the fields of application is presented in theory and practice. Physical fitness is mandatory The helpers do not just waive compensation for their work, they even pay the costs for the journey to the scene of the accident from their own pocket.
But back to Petrostrouga.
Some 300,000 visitors a year visit the National Park of Mount Olympus. Unfortunately, accidents occur in mountain hiking, mountaineering or skiing. The scale ranges from sprains to bone fractures to heart problems.
There are more accidents in summer, in winter they are less, but they are worse.
The possibilities in an accident to inform the rescue team are diverse. In addition to the general emergency number 112, the fire brigade can be reached via number 199. The radio frequency 146500 is monitored by the HRT and the fire department 24/7. Petrostrouga has its own radio. The HRT headquarters in Thessaloniki (2310-310649) can also be reached round the clock. During the entire ascent to the hut, I had by the way good mobile phone reception.
The cooperation with the fire brigade is very good, with the team of emergency number 112 it has greatly improved. "The times are happily over when we were asked to drive a climber with heart problems by car to the hospital," says Nektarios.
In an emergency, the rescue team moves out on foot. Depending on the severity of the accident, the HRT departments from Larisa or Elassona also send auxiliary staff. Once when it was to transport a deadly wounded person, the team consisted of 15 people.
In addition to their protective clothing, helmet and mountain equipment, the rescuers also carry an emergency bag and a carrier. Usually, the patient is stabilized on site and then brought to the valley. Bone fractures are cuffed with an inflatable cuff, so the pain is limited during transport.
The efforts for the rescue team are immense. Wherever an unsuccessful person lies, the rescuers have to get to him. The men often risk their own health.
If a rescue is not possible with a carrier, or if it is really a hurry, a helicopter must help. The approach point is then either the nearest mountain hut or a plateau on which a helicopter can land. Each regular mountain hut (not every emergency hut) has a helicopter landing stage that is maintained all year round.
However, unfortunately such costly rescue operations are not for free. Depending on the amount of work you can expect a bill from 3000 € to 4000 €. If a helicopter is needed the cost can be easily five-digit. One can hope that these expanses are covered by the health insurance.
I hope that I will meet Nektarios and his colleagues in the future just to chat. But it is good to know that there are people like them who are spending their free time helping other people. They deserve our respect!
Walk only when you feel healthy. Listen to your body.
Do not walk alone.
Get informed about the weather, the course and the marking of the hiking route
Do not deviate from the given routes. Do not try to shorten the route. The consequences can be life-threatening. Check out the difficulty of your hiking itinerary.
Ensure the right equipment: Warm clothing (even in the summer, the temperature in the peak region can drop to the freezing point), mountain boots, water, sun protection, etc.
At the summits of Mytikas or Stefani you should follow the red signs. The ascent to these two summits is partly dangerous!
Keep distance from other climbers in difficult terrain. Watch out for rockfalls.
Move slowly and carefully. If you cause yourself a stone strike, please warn your followers.
Follow the instructions of the National Park Administration, fire brigade, mountain rescue and helpers of civil protection
If you would like to stay in a mountain hut, please book the accommodation in advance. A list of the cottages can be found here: