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Climbing on Mt Psiloritis and the White Mountains, Crete, Greece.

GREECE | Sunday, 5 June 2005 | Views [4877] | Comments [1]

I spent April and May of 2005 in Crete, one of my favourite places and one where I’ve spent alot of time over the years, mainly walking and climbing. These short items were written as guide book updates.

Ascent of Mt Psiloritis from Fourfouras

Head out of Fourfouras on the road to Kouroutes. After a short walk there is a yellow E4 sign on the left hand side of the road pointing up a track. Follow the E4 signs on the track as it heads up towards the mountain. After 50 minutes the signs point off the track (just after a concrete water cistern). There is an E4 sign on a post by a fenced off area. This has a redumentary gate in it. Go through it and follow the path, you will soon pick up E4 signs, poles and yellow/black paint marks that lead up the and along a ridge, then up though an area of Holm Oak woodland until you meet a dirt road (3 ½ hours). The E4 signs disappear here. Walk along the road for only 50 meters (passing an open space to your left) then turn half left into semi open woodland. You should pick up the E4 signs again which are fixed to trees.

These will lead to the Prinos (EOS) mountain hut (4 hours) Behind the hut is a fenced off cistern where you can refill your water bottles. Most maps show the route as heading due east from Prinos, this is not correct, the route is NE (040 o). The path is not well marked here, you are heading to the right of a small valley you can see leading up the mountain. There is a path from the cistern follow it and you should pick up the E4 paint marks and poles again. The path leads around a small plain, then climbs steeply upwards. In Spring you will have to cross snow fields. The way marking leads to a col (6 hours) where there is the remains of a notice board, you should by now be able to see the Timios Stauros chapel at the top of Psiloitis, which is on your left. At the col turn left and head up to the chapel (6 ½ hours). To return on the same route takes approximately 4 hours.

The White Mountains.

Those walkers thinking of venturing into the heart of the White Mountains should be aware of the particular risks of this area. Basically it is a high altitude desert, with no water apart from what can be extracted from melting snow, and although there are (a few) water points you cannot rely on finding them. Navigation is difficult (particularly on 1/100 000 maps) as there are areas of limestone pinnacles that look pretty much the same. The E4 way marking cannot be relied upon as although some legs are very well marked there are parts where the poles are kilometres apart, binoculars are useful for locating them. Few people venture here, it is a true wilderness and you may go days without seeing anyone. Do not go here alone and do inform someone of your route, if you have an accident and cannot summon help, the vultures will find you first. To cap it all the going is hard, and the rock is hard crystalline limestone that will cut your books to pieces. Crossing snow fields without the right equipment is also treacherous. This is not an area for the inexperienced or physically unfit. Walkers wanting a different experience of the Samaria Gorge should consider walking up it. A boat from Sfakia will get you to Agra Rommili at 11.00. You will meet the bulk of the people coming down in the first half of the walk, after Samaria village you will have the place pretty much to yourself. We saw quite a lot of wildlife when we did it. From the top you can walk or hitch (easy) to Omalos. Again not for the unfit, the toughest part is at the end of the day.

Tags: Trekking Route Descriptions

Comments

1

I can also recommend this route, and the new 1:25,000 map of Psiloritis is a godsend. Fourfouras can be reached with the 7am Amari bus from Rethymnon bus station.

And for a really, really challenging two-day excursion, I would recommend a night out on the summit (sleeping bag/bivvy bag and foul weather gear essential). I enlarged this excursion by continuing to Stolistra and then curved round and down to follow the NW ridge to its final summit, Migha. Because it wasn't listed in any guidebook, I was worried about difficult vegetation on this route, so took canvas gaiters. But they were not needed. There is no path to follow, but equally it is fairly easy rocky terrain from the summit downwards. There is then a long descent to the beautiful Aravanes Kampos, where an even longer 4x4 track eventually leads to the main road. With luck, you may get a lift to Arcadi monastery, or it could be another very long walk. From Arcadi monastery its hitch, bus or taxi back to Rethymnon.

I did it with only one night's bivouac, returning to Rethymnon by 7pm two days later. But I was lucky and managed to hitch from the main tarmac road down to Arcadi and thence to the coast road. So be prepared with enough food, water and stamina for a second night out - perhaps at Aravanes or even near Arcadi. I did it solo, but do make sure someone at least knows where you are going and when you expect to be back. (Take the number of a taxi firm with you if get desperate towards the end. As the writer says, you will see no-one except perhaps for the odd person on Psiloritis summit. From memory I think this was about a 40km trip with around 6,000 feet of ascent on day one, requiring 6l of water. Lighweight sandals were useful to have for the walk-out..

  Nick Moyes Feb 10, 2012 10:22 AM

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