Text and pictures © 2013-2017 Guillaume Dargaud
Last updated on 2013/07/29
Left: Abandonned church building below Montserrat.
So on our second climbing trip to Spain we decided to visit a few more places than just Riglos like last time. Starting near Barcelona and going as far inland as Madrid. Here we go.
Right: Olive trees and the entrance to one of Montserrat's valley. Our planned route is on the pillar right in the middle of the image.
Left: Hmmm, it shows... Yup, that's the surprise of this page.
Right: Some of the conglomerate pillars of Montserrat.
Left: Getting to the top of the pillar of Mickey Mouse (180m 6a+) on rough for the fingers conglomerate rock. Nice view on the valley to the south.
Right: Jenny at the top of the route which was well bolted except for one long section in the middle, or maybe I just missed a bolt or two.
We got to Montserrat after a 10 hour drive in the rain, stopped somewhere near the base and ate a cold can of beans still in the rain. In the morning we start the approach only to be surprised by a sign stating that climbing is not allowed in spring... Well, we've just bought the latest guidebook and there wasn't a word on this. So although I normally abide by those rules, I've also seen plenty of places with repaces nesting peacefully right next to active routes like in Riglos. So we climbed just the one route and we left for Siurana.
Left: View of other pillars nearer the monastery.
Above: A panoramic view of Montserrat. The site is big with a variety of access and off-limits areas.
Right: Two layers of rocks at Siurana. The climbing is mostly done on on the top gray and yellow rock.
Left: Climbing at Siurana in one of the easy access area. Except we took the wrong access trail.
Right: The village of Siurana on top of its namesake rocks.
Left: The terrace of the restaurant up top.
Right: Great view of Siurana from the bar... Not so great food.
Left: Siurana at night.
Left: Very enjoyable rock at Montanejos with plenty of 2~3 pitch routes of moderate grade 5.
Right: Now for another sector of Montanejos but farther up the main river.
Left: Jenny going old style with a full harness for... obvious reasons.
Right: 6b crack climbing, old-style smooth offwidth. Plenty of difficult routes in this sector, particularly combined with the heat.
Left: Montanejos with its river and road tunnel.
Right: The excellent first 3 pitches in the Vias del Estrecho: the first 2 pitches of Pericondrio Tragal climbed as one single 80 meter pitch.
Left: 2nd pitch of Pericondrio Tragal.
Right: The long traverse on the upper part of Pericondrio Tragal.
Left: The river at Montanejos, with Pericondrio Tragal visible in the back. There are even warm springs with free access when going back to the village at the end of the day.
Right: An attempt at mountain biking didn't end well: too many spiny bushes resulting in multiple punctures. Although the arrival above beautiful old Albaracin makes it almost worthwhile.
Left: Biking through the very narrow streets of Albaracin, trying to avoid the other tourists.
Right: An ancient 'toro' etched on one of the boulders. No climbing on this one, but plenty nearby.
Left: Yeah, I just remembered one of the many reasons to fear bouldering: the smooth sloppy exits.
Right: Bouldering in Albaracin.
Left: Traveling through Spain brings back memories of Don Quixote fighting the windmills.
Right: The same windmills at night.
I know that granite slabs take a while to get used to, but we've climbed plenty in past years; so I start Yan-San Po (6a) without doubts. On the 2nd pitch, after 15 attempts above the 1st bolt I simply give up. There's no way I can do another 5 meters on that increasingly steeper slab in order to reach the next bolt. 6a my ass. To my defense I'll claim that it was simply too hot. So we move clockwise to Ignatius V+, and this time the grade is correct and the climb enjoyable.
Right: Stork on its nest facing the Yelmo (summit) of La Pedriza. Hmmm, about that stork...
Left: Boulder, slabs and crack galore at La Pedriza, on our way to La Tortuga. Peña Sirio is the main ridge on the left and the Yelmo is on the right after a solid approach.
Right: Easy smooth slab of La Tortuga, but if it gets any steeper it gets scary quick !
Left: Balanced rock facing Madrid. It's amazing to have such a playground so close to such a big capital.
Right: Vultures nesting at one of the belays. They looked at me funny but hardly bothered.
Left: The elephant.
Right: Mountain goats facing the Yelmo.
Left: Mountain goats at the Yelmo.
Right: More mountain goats.
Left: Jenny on the upper part of the Yelmo.
Above: 360° panorama from the summit of the Yelmo at la Pedriza.
Above: Panoramic view of La Pedriza. It was already the month of May but there was still a lot of snow on the mountains in the background.
Right: On the way back down I coudn't pass this nice crack without giving it a shot after all those slab.
Right: The approach to the Terradets from the main parking lot. Most of the routes stop at the ledges.
Left: Hard slab climbing on what proved to be the wrong route: instead of starting on 'Demasiado lejos para ir andando' (200m 6b) we did the 1st pitch and a half of Merchely (?). Very nice though, but the unprotected diagonal afterwards to join the correct route wasn't.
Left: Jenny between rock, rail, road and river. And quite possibly the stork we saw earlier...
Right: Friction and small crimps.
Right: View of the route at the Terradets: we climbed the 1st pitch too close to the only visible dihedral.
Left: Camping in some sparsely populated areas of central Spain. I was astounded by how deserted the highways were. In some parts you would drive for 15 minutes without seeing a car. On a highway ! I don't know if SPain has always been so quiet out of the main tourist seasons or if the economic crisis is really as bad as the media make it out to be.
Right: Margalef and its smooth and hard starts.
I was really disappointed by Margalef which was in all the magazines as 'some of the best climbing in Spain'. Well maybe if you climb 8a. But for grade 6, don't bother. We tried several sectors and all of them had the same characteristics: the first 3 meters were overhanging and smooth with the 1st bolt way up. At one time it took me 10 tries to do a 6a and my tendons almost popped out. And after I clipped the first bolt the rest of the route was grade 5. So basically they grade the routes by averaging the 7a start with the 5a upper part. Not interesting. Most people there were using cheater sticks; and for good reasons since the first few meters are polished from too many failed attempts.
Left: We had only one day at Vilanova de Meia but there's enough there to stay for months. We climbed two classics: one was stupendous. The other one, right next to it, was horrible. 12mm bolts vs rusty 8mm with rotting slings plugging the bolt holes. Great layered rock vs crusty lichen. Comfortable anchors vs hanging belays. Safe route vs dangerous tree+ledge fall (pictured here).
Right: Very humid day at Montgrony but enjoyable nonetheless.
Left: Walking throught the wet monastery of Montgrony on the way back to the car and the end of our second spanish trip.