Climbing in Crete

THE WHITE MOUNTAINS

Climbing in Crete can be a challenging and rewarding adventure.

Crete is a very mountainous island and the largest of all the Greek Islands. It is home to three tall mountain ranges, all three reaching more than 2000m in elevation, so perfect for mountain climbing.

Mount Ida

The highest mountain on Crete is Mount Ida. Mount Ida or Psiloritis is a single elongated mountain mass whose highest peak is Timios Stavros (2456m) and is the highest point in Crete. West of Knossos and dominating the landscape of central Crete, Mount Ida is just 3m higher than Pachnes, the highest summit of the White Mountains. Amongst the Mount Ida mountain range are numerous caves, gorges and plateaux.

Supposedly, Mount Ida was where Zeus grew up. Here you can find the Ideon Andron or Zeus' Cave, just a 15 minute walk from Nida Plateau where he was said to be raised by nymphs. Other tales from Greek Mythology relate how Minos, the famous King of Crete, himself a son of Zeus, came every nine years to this cave to listen to his father and seek his help in formulating his Kingdom's laws.

White Mountains

The second highest range is Lefka Ori or the White Mountains, located in West Crete. The highest peak of this range is Pachnes (2453m), just three metres lower than Psiloritis. Climbing in Crete can offer plenty of challenges as the White Mountains are the largest of the mountain groups and contain about 60 summits above 2000m and 111 peaks over 1500m.

They are called White Mountains not because they are covered in snow until late in the spring, as some believe, but rather because the sun reflected on the limestone summits gives the appearance of whiteness.

The Dikti Mountains

In East Crete is Dikti or the Lassithi Mountains, a range with many peaks, the highest being Spathi at 2148m. The Mount Dikti range and the Lasithi Plateau, which spreads out between the peaks, is home to many myths and legends of Greek Mythology. On the northern slopes of the Dikti mountain range is the Psychro Cave, also known as Dikteon Andron where Zeus was reputedly born, later to be raised by nymphs at Mount Ida.

Along with the three main mountain ranges of Crete there are two large mountain ranges in the prefecture of Sitia in the far eastern part of the island making climbing in Crete very varied.

Mountain Huts

In the three large mountain ranges you can find several mountain huts, maintained by EOS, the Greek Alpine Club. Hikers and trekkers also use the mountain huts as they travel through the alpine leg of the E4 European Path in Crete. The mountain refuges close to villages are generally open most times of the year while the remote ones can be closed as late as May.

The mountaineering clubs of Hania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Lassithi maintain the following huts:

Name Location EOS Altitude (m)
Kallergi Near the
Samaria Gorge
Chania 1600
Volika Volikas Keramion Chania 1260
Katsiveli Svourihtis Svourihtis foothills Chania 1970
Tavri Plateau of Askyfou Chania 1200
Toumbotos Prinos Mount Psiloritis Rethymnon 1551
Analipsis Near the Ideon Cave Iraklion 1420
Prinos Asites, East Psiloritis Iraklion 1100
Limnarkarou Lasithi Plateau Lasithi 1350

For further information relating to mountaineering and climbing in Crete contact:

The Mountaineering Club of Lasithi

Telephone 0030 28970 23230

Greek Association of Mountaineers Rethymnon

Telephone 0030 2831 057766 Email: eosrethymno@rethymnon.com

Mountaineering and Skiing Club Of Iraklion

Telephone 0030 812 27609 Email: myrto@her.forthnet.gr

Mountaineering Club Of Hania

Telephone 0030 821 74560.


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