Alpinists Snag Tenuous First Winter Ascent of ‘Scream of the Butterfly’

Purchase was desperate and margins were razor-thin for three enterprising Greek climbers on Scream of the Butterfly — but maybe that’s what you would expect from a rock route nobody had ever tried to climb in winter before.

Ourliahto tis Petaloudas, as it’s called in Greek, surges to the 1,987m summit of Tsouka Rossa via its proud northeast face. It’s been a popular summer climb in the generally temperate nation since 1994.

Now Dimitris Daskalakis, Spyros Kyriakou, and Christos Tsoutsias have made its first winter ascent. They followed a winnowing line of neve and thin ice that they rated at M6, AI5+.

Local climbers had spent two decades scoping for a winter push, reported the group, but never found it in condition.

Arguably, neither did Daskalakis, Kyriakou, and Tsoutsias. The tufts and crusts of melting ice plastered into the deepest areas of the gentle dihedral made for wet walls and delicate axe placements.

The team needed 23 hours to finish the route, car to car. Daskalakis, who is no stranger to alpine risk, downplayed the overall severity — but still acknowledged some exposure.

“Conditions in Greece can warm up very quickly, so the already sketchy ice can easily disappear,” he told ExplorersWeb. “I think [the route] could get easier if the first pitches get ice-covered.”

Daskalakis said that the fourth pitch, in particular, was quite dangerous. “The ice quality was poor, and protection was scarce.”

climbers on mixed rock/ice

Photo: Daskalakis/Kyriakou/Tsoutsias

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.