Great Saint, In the Middle of the Sky
One of the things that drive adventure is the fact that you can do something you did not think possible. This idea played in my mind as I stared up at the huge cliff face looming ahead. I was looking at the formidable Great Saint Rock in the Meteora (“middle of the sky”) region of Greece. Everywhere I look, I cannot see any path up. And yet, the Visit Meteora tour we joined said we will be finding ourselves atop the huge rock a few hours later.
Actually, this was not in the original plan. We were supposed to do a half-day tour around Meteora, but we changed to this in the end. I had already seen three of the six monasteries in the area, and though seeing all of them would definitely be a treat, I thought I could use a change. We got the idea of this rock scramble from our previous guides — and I must say, it’s a great recommendation!
First Things First
The tour says that it’s for everyone, however I find that may not really be the case. Preparation is very important here. After all, you will be ascending a huge rock complex. Definitely not for the acrophobic! It’s also best to bear in mind the following reminders:
- Ready your feet. The rock is hard, and the incline is quite steep. You will be pushing against your weight, so wear something gentle on the soles.
- Ready your heart. If you are afraid of heights or tight spaces, this may not be for you. Aside from the boundless expanse waiting to catch you dizzy from below, you will also pass tight areas to get to the top. Of course, there’s a safety harness so your safety is guaranteed. Oh, and expect to go rappelling!
- Ready your muscles. The scramble requires strength from both the upper and lower body. Make sure you stretch appropriately beforehand, and make sure your body can handle the strain!
- Ready your clothes. Wear clothing that can protect you. There are lots of sharp and jagged edges on your way, and you might come out with some scratches on the exposed parts of your skin. I managed to get through without injuries, though.
- Ready your snacks. It’s a climb, so you shouldn’t bring a picnic along. The guides took care of carrying the water, but I also brought along some sugar candies for Andrea. It helped her a lot!
We were 4 girls on the tour and between all of us, I am definitely the more outdoorsy. That meant while I was enjoying myself, some of the girls were coming in a little scared. All that emotion disappeared once the trip picked up, however, since the guides really made us feel safe the whole time! It’s a challenge, especially for those who don’t do this often, but our guide Lazarus kept heaping praises and encouragement for us to get through.
Lazarus said that for every 4 people on the scramble, there is one guide. The girls I was on the tour with were all very friendly and encouraging. Despite being scared, we all helped each other, so it was a good group for sure. Had we picked up another member, that would mean we require another guide!
The hike began at half past 8, and we began by ascending some stairs. The stairs slowly gave way to clear tree paths, and then some rocks. This is the tough part, since the rocks are fairly steep. It’s like this all the way until we finally made it to the top, 450 meters above ground!
And as one can expect, the view here is just heavenly. It’s definitely worth the effort! The town of Kalambaka down below glowed in the sun, and we adventurers also glowed with our achievement. It was no easy feat! I also remember seeing the spindle in the past days I had been around, and it seemed so tall and distant at the time. Now we had come face to face with it, and this puts into perspective just how high we reached.
Going down was, of course, much easier than going up. We had to go down the same way we came, however. Imaging going down carefully from the summit of a very steep hill — that was about how we felt as we made our way. It was all rocks, but as long as you don’t rush, the guide will get you through. Lazarus was as supportive on the way down as on the way up, so kudos to him!
Overall, A I loved this tour a lot. It was a unique experience, unlike the lazy stroll many are used to doing. I can say we really challenged ourselves this time, and we had fun while doing it!