Most climbers associate climbing in the Mediterranian areas with contentment, peace of mind, a combination of climbing with sunbathing, water sports, and trips in rest days. We want to invite you to a new climbing area in east Crete, which we try to develop already for the third year. This area lies between two villages, Zakros and Xerokambos. Here, at eleven kilometers long coast, lies seven canyons, where we started back in 2016 to establish a new climbing. There are 70 routes up to now made in four canyons and at one crag outside the canyons. The last one lies directly in the Kato Zakros village, at the coast. Kato Zakros is a magical place settled already 3500 years ago by the Minoan culture. The Minoan palace excavated by Nikolaos Platonas in the sixties is one of the most important archeological findings in Crete along with the palaces of Phaistos, Knossos, and Malia. Mystery and attractivity of this place increases because of tombs found in the caves of Gorge of the Dead. This canyon starts close to Zakros village and leads to Kato Zakros. This canyon is one of the places where we are working and climbing.
I want to introduce all the crags where climbing exists. All climbing routes include belay stations consisting of a chain and a carabine.
There are now 16 routes done in the area and one open project. Most of the pitches are 15-18 meters long and 5b-6b difficulty. This spot offers the comfort of tavernas and beaches in the near distance. It takes you only a few minutes to get from the crag to the first taverna.
Dead´s Gorge, Kato Zakros
There are eight routes opened in the Gorge of the Dead at one of the biggest walls in the canyon, which we named Big wall. The spot offers many other climbing possibilities. Climbing is entertaining here, in slabs and overhangs. Each pitch is equipped with bolts in short distances. Even the beginner can feel safe here.
This canyon is located in the mountains close to the Zakros village. It can be an advantage in a hot summer as there is almost always a wind blowing, and the heat is not so intense as it is close to the sea. However, some climbers could see a small disadvantage – it takes you 15 minutes to get there, and the path leads to the uphill. On the other side, this canyon bears significant climbing potential. One could make here hundreds of routes there. We started our climbing in the part of the canyon known as Katalava. There are 13 routes 5b-7a+ up to now.
We made first climbing in this canyon in 2016 with Karel Hronek, a climber from Brno, Czech Republic. The gorge leads to the Krinakia bay in the Xerokambos village. It is 1,8 km long. Walls in the canyon are mostly weathered, with big holes and caves. That is why it looks wildly. The part of the walls in the canyon is suitable for climbing. The typical material is a red limestone and some parts of the canyon are made of yellow sandstone. There are 21 routes now done in this canyon between 6c -7c. Most of the routes have an overhanging character on big holds, edges and holes. The endurance is needed.
The Amatou gorge is a small canyon in the Xerokambos village. We have named it Amatou according to the bay it ends. It is a continuation of the Xerokambos canyon, the biggest canyon in the area. There are 14 routes done, the difficulty between 6a-6c. The pitches are mostly short, between 10-18meters.
When to come here for climbing
According to my experience, you can climb here all year round. It is hot here during summer; however, you can always find some routes in the shade. It is better to spend time at sea over the noon. According to Tripadvisor, the beaches of Xerokambos belong to the best in Crete and Greece, thanks to white sand, shallow, and clean water. Without exceptions. You will never experience dirty water there and beaches full of waste that have to be cleaned before the season. Autumn and spring is the best season for climbing. As for winter, I have been two times in Crete for climbing in wintertime. First, it was a bad experience, the weather was terrible, with rains and strong winds every second day and temperatures between 5-15 degrees Celsius during the day. However, according to locals, that year of 2016 was exceptional. Very cold. Some other years you experience the opposite – temperatures up to 22 degrees Celsius in December or January. The weather is very similar to that in Kalymnos. It is 3-4 degrees warmer than in Athens.
The temperatures in January and December 2018 have been between 15-19 degrees of Celsius ( daily maxims)
Accomodation in Zakros
We have rented a small old house in Zakros for our stay. We want to share this house with everybody who wants to help us in the making of new climbing routes there. We are trying to create here a climbing hub and the best climbing spot in Crete. You can find more information at www.climbcrete.com.