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Crete 55 Peaks

Sep 9, 2023 | Chania | 321 km from Athens

The number 55 must have some magical properties. According to the first edition of Nikos Nezis’ monograph, there are exactly 55 peaks higher than 2000 m on Olympus. Some sources say that there are also 55 peaks higher than 2000 m in the Tatra Mountains in Poland/Slovakia. When I arrived in Crete and had already settled in, one of my friends told me that in Crete… there are 55 peaks higher than 2000 m! Not even in the whole of Crete, but only in the White Mountains. Since I completed the 55 peaks route on Olympus two years ago, the temptation to create and complete a similar route in Crete is extremely tempting. This is how the Crete 55 project was born.

To complete a non-existent route, you must first create it. In this case, the starting point was, of course, finding these 55 peaks on the map. In the case of Olympus it is not easy at all. Even if there is a complete list in a some book, finding these peaks on a map is not easy. Many peaks are simply not on the maps, others seem to have different names, and in still other cases the heights do not match. In relation to Crete and the White Mountains, this task is more difficult, because these mountains have fewer studies than Olympus, and the names of the peaks are even more unclear. Just like their heights, which is even more important in this case. If the Gingilos peak is 2000 m high, it is included in the list, if only 1,980 m (as most maps want) it remains out.  Anyway, I haven’t managed to find all 55 peaks so far, but I have well over 40. It’s not even so important thing, I’m not a purist, the most important are some of the highest extreme peaks, which mark the skeleton of the planned route.

The second stage of the whole project is to connect the found peaks with one line and create a planned route. With 55 points, the number of combinations, i.e. route variants, is virtually infinite (this is the “traveling salesman’s dilemma” known from mathematics), but in the real world you have to decide on something. In relation to the White Mountains, the situation is unusual because in their highest part there is the Samaria Gorge, which cannot be crossed across. Samaria divides our 55 peaks into two parts, in a rather unusual way, because on the western side there is only… one (maximum three) peak higher than 2000 m – Volakias.

The route I drew is currently 98.23 km long and 9600 m of elevation gain (according to the All Trails application). It starts in Xyloskalo on the Omalos Plateau on the northern side of Lefka Ori and ends in the village of Agios Ioannis on the southern side of the mountains. The basic idea was to connect individual peaks with the shortest possible line, running as high as possible, so not to go down into deep valleys. The second assumption was not to repeat the same episodes. The latter was not entirely successful due to the mentioned Voliakas peak. From the Omalos plateau you have to get to Volakias and return the same way to Omalos to continue the route later without any repeats. However, this one Volakias add 13 km and at least 1200 m of elevation gain to the whole route.

The route currently has 43 named peaks and at least four more that are in the line of passage but whose names have not been determined (maybe they don’t even have them). The route mostly does not have any visible path, but there are plenty of stones. Apart from the last peak – Zaranokefala – you don’t have to climb anywhere, vertical walls are unlikely to be in the way.
Below are the names of all the peaks that I managed to recognize, in the proposed order of passage, and a map. Planned time of passage – 40-50 hours, probable date – November 2023.

And the most interesting thing – this time there is a good chance that I will not go alone, two people have already expressed their willingness to participate in the project. It’s going to be an exciting November.

  1. Volakias I (2117)
  2. Volakias II (2095)
  3. Melidaou (2133)
  4. Petrade (2092)
  5. Pirou Limni (2087)
  6. Kefala (2121)
  7. Anthropolithos (2098)
  8. Kara Kefali (2007)
  9. Ornio (2139)
  10. Mavri (2070)
  11. Spathi (2048)
  12. Mavri (2070)
  13. Grias Soros (2331)
  14. Mikros Trocharis (2015)
  15. Akrotiarianos (2070)
  16. Askyfiolikos Soros (2210)
  17. Pavlias (2048)
  18. Goniasmata (2042)
  19. Paspalomyti I (2155)
  20. Paspalomyti II (2170)
  21. Kastro (2219)
  22. Dochi I (2023)
  23. Dochi II (2149)
  24. Kakovoli (2214)
  25. Trocharis III (2317)
  26. Trocharis II (2363)
  27. Trocharis I (2401)
  28. Sternes II (2150?)
  29. Sternes I (2335)
  30. Mesa Soros (2349)
  31. Svourichti (2356)
  32. Modaki (2225)
  33. Zouridia (2200)
  34. Bournelos (2362)
  35. Mavri Gourgoutha (2439)
  36. Pachnes (2453)
  37. Gavala (2370)
  38. Kentakia (2235)
  39. Mesa Tourloti (2185)
  40. Exo Tourloti (2221)
  41. Mesokefales (2100)
  42. Zaranokefala II (2099)
  43. Zaranokefala I (2139)

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