The easiest way for someone to conquer the highest peak of the White Mountains and the second in Crete, Pachnes at an altitude of 2453m, is to follow the dirt track of Madara that starts from Anopolis and enters the Mountain Desert of Sfakia crossing the eerie landscape at Ammoutsera and terminating at Mavra Gremna. The ascent from Mavra Gremna to the peak Pachnes lasts about 1:30.
From Mavra Gremna we follow the trail to the plateau Roussies (altitude 2100m) where the two paths to Pachnes and Katsiveli start. The plateau used to be quite important for the Sfakian farmers as it here there was a cistern for rainwater and a small stone-built lodge serving as an emergency shelter. The name roussies means red and derives from the red color of the limestone soil in contrast to the surrounding areas to the south where everything is gray and black.
The plateau of Roussies is located exactly between the peaks of Bournelis and Sternes and can be used as a starting point for the ascent to them. From Roussies we follow the path to Pachnes, constantly having amazing views to the eerie alpine desert.
During almost half the year, the desert is covered by snow. With the first autumn rains it gets filled by the flowerCretan Colchicum, which is found at high altitudes in the mountains of Crete.