Climbing in Crete
Climbing in Crete: The island’s climbing areas are simply astonishing
Climbing in Crete is a very rewarding activity. Although sport climbing is not so much developed in Crete as in other parts of Europe, the island has much to offer to climbers.
Indeed, when climbing in Crete, you experience the constant change of the terrain: from the high mountains in the middle part of Crete, to the rocky cliffs and impressive gorges in the north and the south part of the island.
Although it is home to some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, Crete is also very mountainous, with three mountain ranges more than 2.000 metres high: White Mountains or Lefka Ori to the west, Mount Ida or Pisloritis to the centre, and Dikti Mountains to the East.
Climbing in Crete – the White Mountains
The White Mountains of Crete is the absolute climbing site in West Crete. The highest peak of them is Pachnes, at an altitude of 2.453 metres.
The White Mountains, or Lefka Ori in Greek, is the largest mountain range in Crete. The White Mountains, with more than 50 peaks above 2.000 metres and more than 100 peaks above 1.500 metres, is a fantastic place for climbing in Crete.
In the White Mountains there are also many spectacular gorges, mainly in its southern part, the longest of which, the famous Samaria Gorge, is also the longest gorge in Europe. And that’s not all: the marvellous beaches in the north and the south, and the traditional villages on the mountains, makes climbing in Crete a rich, multifaceted experience.
Finally, it’s interesting to know that the White Mountains took their name either from the fact that they are covered with snow until spring, or from their limestone peaks that appear white under the sunlight.
Climbing in Crete – suggested climbing areas in West Crete
Gigilos peak and its surrounding area are considered the most picturesque rock climbing terrain in Crete. Located in the White Mountains, just above the famous Samaria Gorge, Gigilos has about 15 different routes. One route starts at the Samaria Gorge entrance at Xiloskalo. Due to the distinctiveness of the terrain, most of the routes are difficult, ranging in height from 400 metres to 800 metres, and fit to more experienced climbers.
The Therisso Gorge is a true climbers’ paradise. The gorge is on the north side of the White Mountains, about 20 kilometres southwest from Chania city, and it offers several routes with breathtaking view. The Therisso Gorge is an essential part of any climbing activity in Crete.
If you prefer rock climbing in Crete by the sea, Kalathas in Akrotiri Peninsula is the right place for you. Located about 10 kilometres northeast of Chania city, Kalathas features about 30 routes. Although the rocks are only about 15 meters high, the climbing routes are excellent – and so is the view to the sea.
In Akrotiri Peninsula, there is also the beach in Stavros, about 14 kilometres northeast of Chania city. Behind the beach, there is a steep cliff which forms one of the best climbing sites in Crete. There are 6 routes in heights between 60 metres and 80 metres, which are considered difficult.
Climbing in Crete is one of those activities that are not so widely known, but are very rewarding for the ones in the know. If climbing is an activity you like and practice, climbing in Crete might very well combine carefree holidays with intense experiences.