Regardless of problems, one ought to set goals and try to meet them, the 28-year-old disabled man from Limassol who last week climbed Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, said on Tuesday.
Giorgos Tirris set out with 11 others last Thursday from Cyprus and two days later scaled Skolio peak in his specially adapted wheelchair, the second highest of Mount Olympus.
It took Tirris, and his team around four hours on Saturday to climb the 2,911 metres to reach the peak of what is not only the highest mountain in Greece but the second highest mountain in the Balkans.
“It was a life goal for me. I chose Olympus because it is the highest mountain of Greece and where the Greek mythology derives from,” Tirris told the Cyprus Mail.
In Greek mythology the mountain is considered to be the residence of the 12 Greek gods.
Tirris’ decision to climb the mountain was also intended to send out a message to all people who have experienced hardships over the last few years, to urge them “to keep their heads up”.
Before setting off to Greece, Tirris spent two months undergoing intense preparations to cope with the demanding task ahead of him.
“Of course I do work out regularly, I do cross fit, I even participated in the past in wheelchair weight lifting competitions,” he said.
But climbing to the peak was not easy.
“We set off (on Saturday) at 7am in adverse weather conditions, there was dense fog, strong winds, snow, rain, there were gorges, cliffs. This was not the average nature trail one gets to follow,” Tirris said.
Once at the peak, Tirris signed the summit register located there.
He added that the group, which included eight National Guard commandos who assisted him in difficult stages of the route, was shown the way by a group of Greek guides.
“But the descent was also very difficult and dangerous. One slip, and the wheelchair could go down a cliff. The slightest mistake and you’re gone,” Tirris said.
This was not Tirris’ first mission impossible as earlier this year he climbed the 30m tower the commandos use to train on, and also completed an 11,000-foot freefall from a plane.
“The things I do are extremely dangerous for people in wheelchairs, but it’s what I like to do,” Tirris said, adding that he plans on doing similar feats but he hasn’t decided yet what.
Tirris underwent commando training himself as a conscript but ended up in a wheelchair seven years ago when he fell off the second floor of a construction site and injured his spine.
“Life without difficulties is a meaningless one. Life is the most beautiful gift God gave us. Regardless of problems, one ought to set goals and go out and try to meet them, to live beautifully,” he said.
“This was not Giorgos’ first mission, but it was the most difficult one in terms of programming, conditions and funding,” head of Iliaktida Zois which supports children with disabilities Panikos Xiourouppas told the Cyprus Mail. The organisation funded the 12-member mission to Greece, and Xiourouppas himself was among participants.
“We wanted to send out a message to all people, that regardless their problems, everything is possible,” Xiourouppas said. “The route was very difficult and it was very cold. Giorgos is sending out many strong messages, he has enormous mental strength”.