Montserrat: land of art, spirituality and… rock!

Giancarlo Maritano presents climbing on the Montserrat conglomerate in Spain. An area where you can still breathe a very special air.

I had always heard of Montserrat. Almost exotic name, land of wayfarers, pilgrims and… climbers! Why not make it a destination for a climbing trip? Why not try to discover her in all her beauty? This is how Roby, my great companion of adventures in magnificent climbing tours, launched the idea!

This time the logistics are simple: plane to Barcelona and a scarce hour by car to arrive – without the possibility of error – at the entrance of this very special place.

During the day, the influx of tourists is important: despite the tourism being of a spiritual and religious nature, the number of people who gravitate around the monastery of Montserrat considerably reduces its charm. But just take the equipment and climb for a few minutes on one of the many paths that cross the rocky massif to find yourself in silence and peace. Only thought: having to choose one of the thousand rocky spurs!

Fortunately there are several publications that help us, and if you have the eye to choose among the many routes present, you will immediately find what you want. The only recommendation, at least for those who are not used to this rock, is to choose a first route well below your level. The bolting is not always according to the most modern standards, both in terms of distance between the protections and material, but especially at the beginning it is not easy to trust that multitude of small stones “cemented” together. Once you understand that the rock is – most of the time – very solid, that’s it!

There are many sectors, just look up from the square of the Monastery to realize that a month would not be enough to see them all! There are single pitches and multipitches within a few minutes’ walk of the hotels. But also distant walls and difficult to access, with all the difficulties.

We let ourselves be guided, apart from obviously some preliminary advice, by instinct and the desire to visit the different corners of this paradise, even if four days of climbing were just enough for the more comfortable and nearby areas. Very often these are spurs that end in the upper part of the massif, with a descent on foot along one of the many well-marked paths. Other times they are real towers, from which it is necessary to abseil down. The common denominator of these lines is the extreme panoramic views over the whole group and the plains below.

In the late afternoon, one last gift from this wonderful corner of Spain: our little paradise empties, the sunset light and the silence give everything back an aura of peace and tranquility. At that point it is really suggestive to get lost in the thousand corners of this absolutely special place!

We indicate below the routes we have climbed, in the order that seems to us the most useful possible. The first route, although certainly not the most beautiful, is a plaisir introduction to the rock and the location of the various sectors of Montserrat.

Via Chachi Piruli
6a + max / V + obb, 210 m
Easy but interesting, very panoramic, with a nice descent on foot that allows you to view the various sectors. From this route the glimpse of the Gorros area is very nice, useful for the next day.

Via del Carles
Gorro Frigi
V max / V obb, 155 m
Easy but beautiful, wall setting with super panorama at the top. After having made the easy descent, feasible with two abseils to the left of the route, it is possible to climb the route “98 Octanos” on the nearby tower of 5. Magdalena Superior, just to the left of Gorro Frigi.

Via Pique LongueLa Granota
6a max / V obb, 140 m
Very comfortable and close to the Monastery, it has a very beautiful rock. Can be linked with other routes in the same sector.

Via Esperò del MisticPedra d’Esparreguera
6a max / V + obb, 140m
Beautiful route, certainly much more demanding than stated by the guide. The distance between the bolts and the verticality make it very engaging. Gorgeous rock.

Where we are: Montserrat is a mountain in Catalonia, Spain, which is part of the Prelittoral Cordillera. It is located approximately 60km north of Barcelona airport.
Logistics and travel tips: our choice was to stay in one of the hotels in Montserrat. There is also the possibility of using kitchens and common areas if you do not want to dine at the restaurant every evening. As far as travel is concerned, it is certainly worth flying to Barcelona and from there, renting a car, go to Montserrat (a scarce hour of travel).
Equipment needed: normal equipment for crags and / or multi-pitch routes. We used the classic 60m half ropes. Nuts and friends practically never used. On some of the routes the rest anchors are to be joined.
Guides and bibliography: for a first visit, the book “Montserrat Vertiente Norte Rock Climbing Guidebook”, which can be purchased online, may be sufficient, but it does not cover the Gorros area. Another very useful guide is the “Montserrat Cara Sur Volume 2”. As always, a look on the web (especially at the legendary can be very useful before embarking on strange routes …

by Giancarlo Maritano

Special thanks to Grivel

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Montserrat: land of art, spirituality and… rock!