Psiloritis from Kamares to Fourfouras

(Ψηλορειτης from Καμάρες to Φουρφουρας)

2 days, 1950m ascent, 2000m descent

Ascent of the highest mountain in Crete. Rough walking, mostly on well-marked paths. Snow traverse even in June.


A path marked “Hohle” (German for cave) ascends from a sign at the East end of Kamares at 600m.


Figure 1: Sign to Kamares cave

Climb a concrete track for a few metres and then climb above it through a blue gate. From here the path, marked by occasional black-and-yellow E4 signs, ascends crossing and recrossing a disused concrete water channel. The ascent is steep, past a couple of tanks where you can get at the water flowing down the newer metal pipe.

Eventually, the path crosses the top of a gorge coming to a flat, wooded area at 1300m with two water troughs and a split in the path at the second. The more direct route continues to the left, while the route to the cave climbs up to the right.

Figure 2: The view SSW past the distinctive Kartalos (718m) to Agia Galini

The way up to the cave, about 1650m, is well marked with cairns. The huge cave can be explored with care, down to its muddy depths in complete darkness. The cave gives its name to a type of Minoan pottery that was first found here by Italian archaeologists in 1893.

From the cave, descend and traverse around into another gorge by a stone shelter. (We took an ill-advised alternative route, so are not sure of the directions).

From here rise up a rocky slope above the main gorge, and then contour into the valley, where the view opens out, and you come to a trough and (the last) fresh water at the end of a track that comes down the valley from the north.

Figure 3: Looking North up the Mafiros (Μαφιρος) valley  past Kotila

Follow this track a short way, then leave it to take a path to the left along stone slabs that rejoins the track before a junction near the river bed. Turn right up the valley, and turn off to the left after a short way, heading towards some buildings. Before the buildings, veer off to the left, and follow a couple of cairns, and blue dots in a stream bed heading north and rejoining the track for a short section. More cairns can be seen off to the right, and eventually, near where this track ends at a large pit, cairns lead to the right of a stone shelf. Here the tributary path joins the main E4 at a sign, now vandalized, though to the East directions to the Nidha roadhead (about 4km) and Kamares are painted on a small cliff. Turn left, following the E4 poles and black-and-yellow arrows. The path leads up a small valley (filled with snow in several places in June), climbing steadily to reach a series of three passes. The third finally rewards you with a view out to the North East. From here climb West across the North face of Angathias (Ανγαθιας 2424m).

Figure 4: The path crossing a snow slope, and a top to the summit (right)

Continue on the north side of the ridge, across two snowfields (in June) and a small top, before the final ascent to Psiloritis, (2456m) with the summit chapel of Timios Stavros (Τιμιος Σταυρος).

There are hollows for shelter on the South side of the slope, and a sheltered spot for a tent North of the church, though the chapel’s antechambers looks as though they are intended for shelter.


From the summit, retrace your steps to the metal sign frame (the sign is gone) and head over the small top (with and E4 pole) before dropping off to the right (South) following arrows and poles that are always visible (in good conditions). The path drops into a south-facing valley before becoming well-defined, and follows the valley to swing West. Descend West on a slope and enter a small flat valley that steepens and then opens out. The E4 signs are now nailed to trees, rather than being on metal posts. The path descends to the North side of an obvious stone refuge (EOS Rethymno’s Toupotos Prinos) with a large round second storey.


From the refuge a track leads North-South. One trail leads from the SW corner of the refuge (presumably to Kouroutes) The E4 leads off to the West about 20m north of the refuge. The trail immediately recrosses the track which has switched back, but continue almost due West following the indistinct trail, cairns and E4 signs on trees over rough slopes. You will come to a sign to a spring 300m south, but continue West down a steep rocky set of manmade switchbacks. Continue following signs, as the route turns South, and then West again along the rim of a large crater. Then the path turns steeply down to the NW and eventually two cairns presage a goat gate and the path emerges on a track. Follow this to the North, always descending, to eventually come out on the Fourfouras road, just south of the village.



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