Climbing in Agio Farango

Dave following on “Το ονειρο και ο φοβος” (Google trans. “The dream and the fear”), 5b (approx. 5.8+), in Agio Farango, Crete, Greece.

I had business on Crete, Greece and was fortunate enough to be able to stay an extra day for some sport climbing.  We were staying east of Heraklion, near Hersonissos, so Agio Farango, on the south side of the island seemed the best option for a day trip.  We picked up a guide book online ahead of time, rented a car, and headed southwest about 100 km or so, probably 2.5 hours each way, to Kali Limenes.

We took the approach from Kali Limenes, a hike from the east of the gorge a few hundred yards inland from the Mediterranean.  Despite online directions and directions in the guide book, it was extremely unclear where we should park and where the actual marked path (with blazes and cairns) started.  Below I’ve included a map based on my several-months-old recollection of the route and my interpretation of the satellite photos:

View Agio Farango approach from Kali Limenes in a larger map

If I were to do it all again, I would probably try the alternative approach from Moni Odigitrias at the north end of the gorge, even though this website advises the Kali Limenes route.  We burned up a bit of time just trying to figure out where the trail was.

The climbs were fun, although I found the difficulty a bit stiff in some cases.  Also, many of the routes had sections of very sharp limestone rock, which was difficult to hold onto.  Good footwork was essential for such routes.  While most routes were well bolted, I also followed on my first trad route, an easy 4c (French scale, approx. 5.7 YDS, even though it felt easier than that) named Ξωτικο that started right on the beach and had a great view of the water and beach from the top.

Goats are all over the area, especially down in the gorge itself, as well as soloing up on the cliffs above you.  They are amazing climbers, able to scale walls and routes that look difficult for us humans with little fear or difficulty.  However, watch out for other tourists and their dogs.  While I was top roping one of the routes someone’s dog chased a goat between the rock and my belayer 30 feet below me, which was a rather unsettling experience.

Overall, a great trip.  It’s a pretty intense day trip from the Heraklion area, and the driving and trail finding can really eat into your climbing time.  If you have the time, I’d recommend bringing a tent and some food and staying overnight on or near the beach in order to fit more climbing into a more relaxed outing.

More photos from the trip can be found here on Smugmug.