The Ger­man tech­no­crat who penned a guide for ski moun­taineers in Greece

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY GIOR­GOS LIALIOS

With its many mag­nif­i­cent moun­tain ranges, Greece is ideal for ski moun­taineer­ing en­thu­si­asts. Yet de­spite the ex­is­tence of var­i­ous knowl­edge­able, ex­pe­ri­enced and help­ful so­ci­eties and in­di­vid­u­als, a de­tailed and prac­ti­cal guide­book to ac­com­pany the hobby was hard to come by, un­til now.

It there­fore comes as a wel­come sur­prise that a Ger­man tech­no­crat’s stint in Athens re­sulted in “Ski Tour­ing with Sea View,” a use­ful and unique man­ual re­cently pub­lished in Ger­man, English and Greek.

“The sum­mer of 2012 Athens was es­pe­cially hot,” says Chris­tian Mayer, an of­fi­cial at Ger­many’s Fed­eral Min­istry of Fi­nance who spent more than three years based in the Greek cap­i­tal.

“Day af­ter day the tem­per­a­ture was hit­ting 40 Cel­sius and I couldn’t take off for a hol­i­day as the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Athens was tense. So I asked a friend where I could go for a week­end away. “You have two choices,” he said. “The moun­tains or the sea.”

Mayer opted for the moun­tains in the hope of find­ing some respite from the per­va­sive heat, choos­ing to climb Ziria (also known as Kyllini) in the Pelo­pon­nese.

“I ar­rived early in the morn­ing, car­ry­ing three liters of wa­ter with me, ea­ger to take in some fresh air. But the heat was so in­tense that it took me three times longer than I’d planned, and my wa­ter sup­ply did not suf­fice.”

How­ever, the ex­pe­ri­ence didn’t put Mayer off his quest to dis­cover and en­joy Greece’s peaks. Raised in the Bavar­ian moun­tains and a skilled skier, he re­al­ized that all he had to do to get the most out of the ex­pe­ri­ence was head out dur­ing the cooler months.

Mayer soon got ac­quainted with Greece’s moun­taineer­ing com­mu­nity, mak­ing friends with peo­ple who shared the same in­ter­ests (moun­tains – not the fi­nan­cial cri­sis), dis­cov­er­ing new places and ex­pand­ing his know-how and ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing his ad­ven­tures in the Greek moun­tains.

The idea of writ­ing the guide came to him dur­ing his first win­ter in Athens, “while I was stand­ing on a moun­tain peak and look­ing out at a glo­ri­ous sea vista.”

With a lit­tle help from lo­cal moun­taineer­ing pals in­clud­ing Vas­silis Tri­antafyl­lou and Yian­nis Dim­i­trakis, he recorded 23 routes. Th­ese were then mapped out by Pene­lope Mat­souka from Anavasi Pub­li­ca­tions, which pub­lished his book. Also use­ful dur­ing warmer months as a hik­ing guide, the book of­fers con­cise and prac­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion for each lo­ca­tion, such as start­ing points, moun­tain refuges or other places to stay, al­ti­tudes, po­ten­tial dan­gers and nec­es­sary at­tire. Flash the book when vis­it­ing stores, refuges and tav­er­nas men­tioned therein and you’ll get a 10 per­cent dis­count too.

Mayer grew up hear­ing his father re­gale tales about the beauty of Greece as he had be­come en­am­ored with the coun­try when he served here dur­ing WWII.

“I elicit all of you to con­sider this book as a trib­ute to your coun­try and its peo­ple, penned by a Ger­man hand,” he says, adding, “On the moun­tain peaks, one gets to dis­cover life way be­yond any eco­nomic crises.”

Chris­tian Mayer got a first taste of Greece’s moun­tains dur­ing a week­end away from Athens seek­ing some respite from the per­va­sive heat.

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