It is the last high mountain from East to West in the White Mountains and, in the same way,the first one from West to East. Its altitude, 1984 m, is not considered to be among the highest in Crete,the route to it,however, is one of the most beautiful ones especially in winter.
The starting point of the way up is a bit before the end of the road leading to the Samaria Gorge, Xyloskalo. On your right there is a dirt road you have to follow for a while.From that point you can clearly see the mountain,provided there is no fog.
The starting point of the way up is a bit before the end of the road leading to the Samaria Gorge, Xyloskalo. On your right there is a dirt road you have to follow for a while. From that point you can clearly see the mountain, provided there is no fog.
Photo 1: Some meters after leaving the "stone river", on the way up. The top is at the back and on the right, behind the snowed slope you can see in the picture. You can also climb up following the "river" to the end and then going up on the right hand-side; that's the route shown in the picture. At first you need to walk for a while on a "stone river" and just before its end you start going up heading to the west. At the end of this relatively short way up you see a large slope with an inclination of 25-30o, which you have to climb up (see photo). In winter the slope is usually frozen, so you can climb up faster, provided of course you know how to use crampons and an axe in case of diving!
Photo 2: The slope you have to go up. You can see three climbers at the right bottom. Just after the slope you meet the ridge you have to follow up to the top. The open and flat place described in the text is situated exactly at the point without snow at the bottom of the picture. To climb up to this point, where there is a characteristic open and flat place, you don't need more than 2-3 hours in total.
After having climbed up the slope, you head to the west once more, this time following the ridge that you can clearly see in front of you. The ridge leads you to the top in some minutes. From the top the view is divine! You can see the whole of Chania county, a big part of Rethymnon county, as well as Mt Psiloritis in its snow coat, in winter of course! The most impressive thing is the strong contrast between the snow and the deep blue of the Libyan Sea and the clear view of Gavdos Island. After having admired the marvelous view, here is your way back.
Photo 3: Starting the way back from the ridge. Don't think there is just no snow on the ridge, it's due to the wind! Some meters further down the snow was higher than 2 m!! Return from the same route is not recommended, as it may be a bit dangerous for beginners. So, on your way back you'd better follow the ridge leading to the Samaria Gorge. Orientation is quite easy, as the ridge is clearly visible as well as Gigilos, where you should head to and at the foot of which the Samaria Gorge is situated. After walking for about half an hour on the ridge you can see the Samaria Gorge beside you but from about 1500 m higher.
The way down from that ridge is unique! The view is great but so has your attention to be because there are often drops of at least 500 m. Be specially cautious in winter and don't take your crampons off even if you have to cross a long distance of rocks; this is due to the usually frozen snow you may meet for some meters or even centimeters. So be careful! You need about 3 hours to climb down. For the whole climbing on Psilafi you need 7-9 hours depending on your experience, your endurance and the weather conditions. Regarding the latter, don't try to climb up in case of strong winds, as the route is exposed to winds at many points.
Photo 4: Climbing up the bluff slope heading to the top. At the back you can see the massif of the White Mountains. The way back cannot be seen in this specific photo. At the back and on the right you can see the snowed Pachnes, the highest peak of the White Mountains. At about the half of the route up there is a big open and flat place where you could put up a tent, provided the snow is suitable, as there is no danger of avalanches there. Don't you dare spend the night on the ridge! If wind starts blowing, you'll find yourself on Gavdos Island!!
Necessary gear for summer climbing: a hat, anti-sun lotion, climbing boots, sunglasses and tolerance of the heat! Necessary gear for winter climbing: for a single-day climbing: waterproof plastic or leather boots, a compass, crampons (you know, the metal nails attached to the boots that enable you walk on frozen snow with safety), preferably fast crampons, as your fingers will freeze instantly if wind blows, anti-sun lotion, sun-glasses, a climbing axe and a photo camera! For a many-day climbing: a waterproof tent, a warm sleeping bag and all the above.