Perched fortress-like atop the surrounding wine country sits Spain's largest climbing area, and the spiritual cradle of Catalonian climbing. The magical blunted spires of Montserrat hide literally thousands of excellent routes, with a variety of length & commitment sure to intrigue climbers of all tastes & abilities. Located only 30 miles from the bustling metropolis of Barcelona, the Parc Natural de la Muntanya de Montserrat that contains the climbing area is a popular destination for locals & tourists alike. The main attraction for tourists is the aesthetic Benedictine Monastery located among the cliffs on the East end of the park, which offers access to many of the more popular climbs.
Montserrat is composed of excellent cobblestone conglomerate, not unlike the rock found at El Rito, Castlewood Canyon, or Maple Canyon in the US. The primary difference is that these formations reach heights of over 1000 feet, offering a world-class multi-pitch climbing experience. Although the cliffs may appear chossy, the rock is generally very solid, and highly featured, with many protruding knobs and sinker pockets.
Routes range in difficulty from 3rd class scrambles & via ferratas to 5.14c. Lengths range from the ridiculously short 2-bolt power route, to multi-pitch adventures in excess of 10 pitches.
The vast majority of lines are bolt protected, but many of these are runout, and there are opportunities for intermediate natural gear placements. A small rack of nuts will prove useful on most lines. Helmets are a good idea here, and seem to be favored by the vast majority of local climbers. Although these routes see nearly constant traffic, pockets of loose rock remain.
First-time visitors will be drawn to the Gorros formations that tower above the Monastery. More accomplished climbers should not miss the imposing Cavall Bernat, 'the half-dome of Montserrat', and its imposing East face. Countless high-quality single-pitch sport climbs are spread throughout the park.
When to Visit
Montserrat is a year-round crag, but like most "year-round" crags, spring and fall are best. Shade is at a premium in the warm summer months, and in the winter many of the most challenging multi-pitch lines will be too cold to enjoy. If you are here in the winter, the Gorros get morning sun and are bear-able on warmer winter days. Additionally, the south-facing slabs of Panxe del Bisbe & other formations around L'Elefant are relatively sheltered from the wind.
English-speaking visitors will want to check out the excellent e-guides available from RockTopo These are "supertopo"-style guides with detailed introductions, text descriptions, and high-quality topos available for download.
"The Loop Road" surrounds the cliffs of Montserrat & provides access to all of the climbs. There are multiple ways to reach this road, but for direct access to the Monastery area, take the A-2 out of Barcelona to the C-55. Take the C-55 to the small town of "Monistrol de Montserrat". Here get on the winding BP-1121, which joins the loop road a short distance North of the Monastery.
Browse More Classics in Montserrat
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Montserrat:
Featured Route For Montserrat
Via Normal 5.8 PG13 International : Spain : ... : Cavall Bernat
The original route and a historical accomplishment, the Normal route on Cavall Bernat is the easiest way to the summit of this fine spire. This route is a classic moderate with airy and enjoyable climbing on the shortest side of the spire. Start: locate the low angle ridge that leads to the single tree on the shoulder below the main bulk of the spire. Pitch 1: scramble the low angle ridge up to the shoulder and ascend the steeper face to the belay anchor below the memorial plaques. A cam o...[more] Browse More Classics in International