Mount Olympus – more commonly known amongst its friends as the playground of the gods – is the epitome of the ultimate Kiwi escape.
We launch into the beaten up VW and begin the ascent of one of the greatest mountains on earth. 450m of vertical descent is all that separates us from the promised pow-pow (a phrase that I have recently discovered refers to powder snow and which is increasingly utilised on this trip).
With one minor stop-off to fasten chains, we finally arrive at ‘base station’. The challenge doesn’t end there – Mount Olympus relies on rope tows (more accurately named nutcrackers) to wean out the mere mortals. Adorned with snowboarding bags, food and drink for the week and loaded down with our individual luggage we jump on our boards and attach our nutcrackers (a clasp-type device which is the only means of ascending the mountain) to the tow rope.
We’re ready, we’re amped and we’re on the way up when we discover we really are mere mortals. Not one, but three, tumbling girls and a decision to walk up to top base, we begin to question our stay on the mountain of gods.
As the beautiful wooden ski-lodge comes into sight – furnished with a steaming spa – we decide the walk was well worth it. Without a second to entertain thoughts of a well-earned spa, we’re given our ski pass, taught how to use the tow rope and told to return at 12 for lunch. The feeling of school camp comes alive with daily chores and cooking duties on rotation, only making the entire experience more authentic.
We have made a fortunate, if not deliberate, decision to arrive just in time for ‘wrinkle-free week’. The name refers less to the physical age than the age each guest feels. One incredible 80 year old has attended wrinkle-free week since its inception and claims his soul is most definitely wrinkle-free. The week is comprised of themed events, dress-up, underwear runs, snow races, sunset après ski aperitifs, card tricks, evening dances and long spas under the stars. With 40 people piled in to two bunk rooms it is hard not to become best friends with the other guests and we’re welcomed into the family of repeat guests- no questions asked.
Six days of skiing and a 21-person manmade snow cave later, we awaken to the final hurrah. It’s leaving day for those wrinkleless skiers and with promises of returning next year, we begin to descend the mountain in the same stylish fashion we arrived.