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Ascent of Pachnes on 2012-04-02

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Andrew Tibbetts
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, April 2, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pachnes
    Location:Greece
    Elevation:2453 m / 8048 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Note: Pachnes is allegedly 6cm higher than Psiloritis (Ida): see note on Summitpost

Quote (posted on the Sfakia-Crete forum on October 4, 2006): ‘In today's Chaniotika Nea newspaper there is an article by Paris Kelaidis that claims that the latest charts by the Greek Military Geographic service show Pachnes, of the White Mountains, the highest peak on Crete at 2,453.65 and Mount Ida at 2,453.59, a difference of 6 cm in favour of Pachnes, reversing the previous view that Mount Ida was 2 meters higher.’

We climbed this the day after our Kedhros and Sidherotas ascents. In April the mountain carries a lot of snow and we had a 22 km round trip, much longer than is the case in summer. Crampons are advised at this time of year.

The night before, we parked partway up the approach road. To reach the trailhead, turn R at Anopoli, at a traffic roundabout with a statue (N35.21796 E24.08568). In 50m turn R again. At N35.23757 E24.08172 turn R on an unpaved road, a little rough but passable in our low clearance car with care. At N35.24004 E24.10697 keep L; at N35.24850 E24.11339 keep L and soon pass through a gate (seems always to be open). At N35.25590 E24.10682 we found the road blocked by a snow drift which our car couldn't pass, so at 1330m this was our trailhead, adding some 15 km to our day. This was no great surprise given the time of year and we were prepared for it.

We started hiking at 8 a.m. I wore lightweight boots, Andrew wore Walsh fell-running shoes and carried winter boots. We took crampons but no ice axes. The road hike was nice, through a limestone landscape with views of the many summitted snow-covered Lefka massif ahead. Higher up there were several steep snow banks which would have stopped any wheeled vehicle.

Above 1600m the road was completely snow covered and mostly invisible. We walked N on a snowfield in the valley bottom; the road was up to our R traversing a steep snow slope. At the head of our valley some nice paint marked zigzags took us up a short climb and we reached the road. Ahead it crossed a steep slope which would have needed crampons: we scramble up to the R and descend on gentler snow to rejoin the course of the road (mostly invisible: I have a GPS track from Google Earth) which we follow to its end. There are a number of deep shake holes - large depressions which are a feature of limestone country, which we bypass. The snow is in quite nice condition and we don't use crampons. Andrew's studded Walsh shoes grip well, but we need to kick our way up steepish snow and he changes to his Scarpas. The route turns west into a side valley and we reach the "normal" trailhead at N35.29042 E24.06579, 1863m: today just a snowy saddle but I understand this is the place to park in summer - no turning place beyond.

We continue upwards, roughly following the line of the road then, when it ends, making a rising traverse NW to a saddle N35.29568 E24.05158, 2126m. The side slope before the saddle is quite steep, just about ok without crampons. From the stony saddle there is an obvious trail (snow free!) heading uphill in the direction of Pachnes. At the top of this slope we go R a short way to the summit of a small stony summitted hill, N35.29545 E24.04678, 2220m P15m. From here Pachnes is up to the right, and it seems the trail climbs R to a saddle (N35.29167 E24.04104, 2300m) immediately before it. Not knowing this we head straight up onto the ridge, climbing on steep snow, to reach a minor peak, N35.29198 E24.04384, 2351m, P50m. Descending to the col we see a boot trail coming in from below and realise this must be where the summer trail goes. We head up a steep ridge, a little icy, only just ok without crampons - we resolve to wear them for the descent. Then a few minor ups and downs and a final climb leads to the summit cairn, N35.29192 E24.03210, 2448m (horizontal accuracy 3m). We are here in 4h30 - acceptable given the conditions.

We fit crampons and decide on a shortcut, making a descending traverse missing out the first section of ridge with its steep descent. This works OK although the side slope is steep and the snow quite variable. We take a slightly different line down, passing just below the stony saddle. We notice 2 small buildings immediately below the saddle, presumably shelters, almost entirely buried in snow. We make the descending traverse down to the old road, now in soft deep snow, quite hard work. We slog back to the "normal" trailhead, arriving 3h40 after we left it. But today there is only an empty snowfield: our car is 8 km further on. We plough on, carefully following the course of the road which I have on my GPS. The snow is quite soft but not as bad as we feared it might be. It runs out at about 1600m and we quickly walk the road back to our car. We're down in 3h30, quite happy with 8 hours given the long route and the conditions. The weather has been excellent, blue sky all day, just a small pocket of mist for a few minutes on the way down.

We are to climb Volakias tomorrow. It is the westernmost 2000m top of Pachnes and only about 15 km away, however due to the Samaria gorge, the drive to reach it is over 100km!

Pachnes photo album
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1181 m / 3880 ft
    Elevation Loss:1181 m / 3880 ft
    Distance:22 km / 13.7 mi
    Grade/Class:F
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Crampons
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1152 m / 3782 ft
    Extra Loss:29 m / 98 ft
    Distance:11 km / 6.8 mi
    Route:from SE
    Trailhead:above Anopoli  1330 m / 4364 ft
    Time Up:4 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1152 m / 3782 ft
    Extra Gain:29 m / 98 ft
    Distance:11 km / 6.8 mi
    Route:SE
    Trailhead:above Anopoli  1330 m / 4364 ft
    Time Down:3 Hours 30 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO resposibility or liability from use of this data.

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