First glimpse of Afentis Christos on the route from Selakano
is one of the best trailheads to reach either of the two highest mountains of the Dikti Range
, Dikti / Spathi
and Afentis Christos
. It is located at 800m, 300m lower than the trailhead at Limnakarou Plateau
, so that the hike to either mountain turns into a rather strenuous affair. Much of the route follows the Cretan trekking trail E4
, until it reaches the saddle which separates the two mountains.
From here the ascent to Dikti
is a well marked path through the sloped south face of the mountain, while the route to Afentis Christos is a long, rocky scramble up the north ridge with several exposed sections, a rocky, featureless plateau and several false summits. Even though this route is marked, orientation can turn rather difficult, especially in foggy conditions.
Round trip distances are between 17 and 18km, elevation gains around 1400m. The GPX-Track attached to this page has been patched together from several routes. If you try to climb both mountains at one go you're in for a 25km / 2100m epic. Thanks to the rough rocky path you will need a long day to get to either summit and back. Best seasons are spring and autumn. In summer the arid area can turn blisteringly hot while winter snows barely cover the karst features of the mountains making orientation even more difficult. With good snow cover, however, ski tours to either mountain are possible along this route.
View from Selakanotowards the long-stretched back which heads up to Afentis Christos
- To reach the trailhead at Selakano drive highway 90 to Pachia Ammos.
- Turn onto the road to Ierapetra.
- Here turn west again to Mirtos, where you switch to the road to Males (in Mournies you can turn west for the third trailhead at Kato Simi).
- In Males, follow the dead end road to Christos but before you reach the village the narrow road to Selakano turns off to the right.
Afentis Christos seen from the Selakano Route
- Start altitude: 8000m
- Summit altitude: 2141m / 2147m
- Prevailing exposure: N / NW
- Type: Hike and Scramble
- Protection: None
- Effort: 3 - Elevation gain: 1400m
- Power: 4 - Very Strenuous
- Psyche: 1 - Easy
- Difficulty: 1/2 - Easy for Dikti, more difficult for Afentis Christos
- Orientation: 1/3 - Easy for Dikti, difficult for Afentis Christos
is a small mountain village, nowadays used for holiday homes by the locals. There is some little africulture which you witness as you set out in western direction between low walls marking properties. But soon you leave the olive orchards and head into a sparsely populated forest of old oaks. The trail follows the northern side of the valley which comes down from the saddle which separates Dikti / Spathi
and Afentis Christos
. It can be easily found as it is marked by the yellow markers of the E4
For the first few km there are a handful of trails leading off the main one. Among them is one to the north which heads up to the Dikt Range's third highest mountain, Lazaros
. Stay on the main path which soon heads out of the oaks and steeply climbs the northern side of the valley to around 1400m elevation. Here the path levels and heads directly for the destination saddle. The final part gets steeper again and orientation gets somewhat difficult as there are several shortcuts to reach the Spathi
summit from here already.
Afentis Christos seen en route to Spathi
Head along E4
for a couple hundred metres and before it heads down towards Selakano
turn left (yellow marks). The ascent route heads for the Dikti south-west ridge
, which it follows on its southern side. In a few places you gain the ridge but for the most part you avoid the rockiest sections by turning onto the south slope of the mountain. In the topmost part the path heads out onto this slope for a long half-circle which regains the ridge just underneath the summit cone. Th vertical west face is avoided by turning south again, heading up to the summit from the south directly.
Afentis Christos Ascent
From the saddle turn right onto the sloped karst plain north of Afentis Christos
. The path runs a half circle, heading east to reach the broad north ridge of the mountain. Here you scramble steeply up for a few hundred metres until the path crosses over to the eastern side of the ridge, which it never leaves until the summit.
Occasionally there is a stone cairn but in general the path is devoid of any markers. It turns south-west following a bend in the ridge and staying high above a valley which comes up all the way from Selakano
. Up front you see three false summits, one after the other, before the real summit with its little chapel comes into view. Heading up to one of the saddles between the summits pays off even though they don’t lie on the regular route. They offer stunning views into the Afentis Christos north face
Finally you reach the last saddle, descending into it across big boulders. The final ascent is pathless - in fact there are several options, none of them marked. One of the options is to head up the north ridge directly but this requires the use of hands. A slightly easier route avoids the north ridge on its eastern side and leads up the summit the back way from the south-east.
Hiking gear is sufficient. Bring a lot of water - it can be very hot on the dry karst. Also, bring warm clothes. Strong winds are not uncommon on Crete's highest mountains.