The canyons of eastern Crete with great climbing potential


In the last three years, we made 70 climbing routes in four canyons surrounding Zakros, Kato Zakros, and Xerokambos. However, there are much more canyons in east Crete around those three villages.

Here they are:
1) Agia Irini

Agia Irini is the southernmost of all canyons in the area. It is secluded, without proper access using a car. You can get there by walk from the Amatou bay in Xerokambos. It will never be a great climbing area full of outstanding pitches. It is too small and not enough high. But it can be a perfect area for climbing and bathing altogether, for summer trips, for something special that you want to experience on your vacation. You can even take a sea kayak for this trip. Kayaking, bathing, and climbing in one day, it is a dream. Also, the area has the potential for some hard climbs. There is one cave that is perfect for this purpose of making hard routes. For bolters: You can spend there lovely summer bathing, bolting, and climbing. I estimate at least twenty pitches can be done here.

2) Xerokambos canyon

Xerokambos canyon is the largest canyon of all in the area of Xerokambos. It leads from the mountains above Ziros to the Xerokambos. The walls of the canyon head to the south-west and north-east. Thus you can climb all day long. How many routes can be bolted there? My estimate is at least 150. 

3) Farangulia canyon

Farangulia canyon is a small canyon above the Xerokambos village. It is a hidden canyon. You probably will not find it unless you know at least the approximate position of the entrance. The distance from the parking lot is about 15 minutes of walking to reach it. The face is oriented to the north-east, so it is in the shade in the afternoon. Most of the crag is strongly overhanging, so there is a potential for hard routes. My estimation is 30 pitches can be done there.  

4) Katsounaki canyon

We started climbing in this canyon in his side branch. However, the main canyon is two kilometers long, with some good possibilities for climbing.  The large part of the main canyon is destroyed from the erosion, not usable for climbing due to the low-quality rock. I estimate the climbing potential for about 40 other pitches in this part of the canyon. 

5) Vigla 

We started bolting in Vigla this summer. We bolted 13 pitches in the sector Katalava. There can be done at least another 30 routes in all parts of Katalava, and another ten pitches around the cave. As you climb the slope for another 12-15 minutes, you will reach the Vigla crag. This cliff is a dream for bolters. It keeps an incredible potential for beautiful climbs. My estimate is 30-50 pitches can be done there.

6) Epano Zakros

Epano Zakros is the canyon above Zakros village, where the famous Zakros source of water starts. It is a vast canyon. However, due to the difficulties with access, only a tiny part of the canyon is suitable for climbing.  My estimate: 20 pitches.

There are other canyons, however, I was not able to walk through all of them. They are big and the keep a climbing potential for sure. These canyons lie in the mountains between Zakros and Sitia. I mean Adravastoi, Lagkada canyon, canyons close to Palaikastro village.  Also, there are climbing areas outside the canyons, like Itanos crag or Roussa Ekklisia crag. 

So, now you know how significant is the potential for new routes in the east Crete. It is huge. Pack your drill and come to eastern Crete. You can use our base in Zakros, which is an old house with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a bathroom.

Petr Fiala

 

Photos

Agia Irini

 

 

 

 Farangulia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Katsounaki

 

 

 

 Xerokambos canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I have got about 2000 photos of various canyons. I cannot post here everything, only a few of them. But you get an idea. 

 

Petr Fiala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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