Nikos, a friend of our guides, is already waiting for us with steaming cinnamon herbal tea. On the small gas stove, a fresh vegetable soup is simmering, and the thermometer in the hut indicates a cozy 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit). Raise one to Nikos! Our second surprise following the soup is a large portion of Spaghetti Bolognese. Warm blankets and a hot water bottle for each of us ensure perhaps the coziest night of our trip. Three cheers for Greek hospitality!
Invigorated and well rested, we head over Svourichti on the second day to Mikros Trocharis at 2,410 meters (7,907 feet), the second-highest summit of Lefka Ori. The final ascent to Fanari ends with a long descent to the Niato Plateau. In sum, the first two days are about steep climbs, fantastic descents on firn snow, long traverses, and breathtaking landscapes. What impresses me is the compact snowpack. Up until now, we haven’t seen any debris cones although the sun heats up during the day to 10 degrees (50 F) and bakes the slopes relentlessly. George says, “Since his first ski tour in 1996, I have only seen two avalanches.” For us, hard to believe, but all the better!