It’s almost Christmas time and also the end of one more exciting mountaineering year here in Greece. This past year, we have been to many different mountain peaks and mountain range, but one of the few that we have never visited before, were Athamanika or Tzoumerka Mountains.
Athamanika mountains, also known as Tzoumerka, are part of Pindos mountain range located at the boundaries of the regions of Thessaly and Epirus. Both the physical landscape and the traditional settlements set Athamanika mountains as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.
Athamanika mountains rise in-between the boundaries of the counties of Arta, Ioannina and Trikala. At the West the mountains are bounded by Aracthos river and at the East by Acheloos river. Geomorphologically, the region is divided into 2 sections: the northern section, belongs to Ioannina prefecture and hosts the highest peak (2469 meters) and the southern part belongs mainly to the prefecture of Arta.
Geologically, Athamanika Mountains are consisted mainly of limestones and flysch formations. This alternation of rocks combined with intense rainfall has resulted the development of an extensive groundwater with a presence of springs in many places. The most famous water spring is “Agathi“, near the village of Melisourgoi.
Agrofylakas’ couloir (55° (70°), 500m.) was first discovered and ascent by P. Sotiropoulos – A. Karras and M. Vasiliou – S. Koukoumpi on 27/4/1986. Agrofylakas’ couloir is the central couloir that is seen from Pramanta looking out over the northwest cliff of Strogoula.
The route is a deep hook that ends 100m before the top in rock passes, where the toughest part (M2 or 70 °). If the snow cover is great then things are easier. After the exit of the cabin there is still 100m of walking to the top.
History of Athamanika Mountains According to historical data, the first inhabitants were the Athamanes. Their civilization flourished in the 3rd century BC. The alternative name of the mountains (Tzoumerka) is much more modern and it is of Slavic origin, like many toponyms of the prefecture of Epirus.
In the Ottoman period the development of trade routes that were crossing Pindus gave impetus to a network of settlements that flourished continuously. The most significant of them were Pramanta, Agnanta, Melissourgoi, Theodoriana, Vourgareli, Kalarites, Sirako etc. In modern history, the intense urbanization has led to decline several settlements. A few of them were completely abandoned. Almost every village of Athamanika mountains is characterized by the famous Epirus architecture.