Margalef Rock Climbing
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|Shared By:||Monomaniac on Dec 18, 2009|
The rock at Margalef is an unusual combination of cobblestone conglomerate and tufa limestone.
The cliff's generally bulbous profile provides literally every possible angle of climbing from the ubiquitous slabs to the horizontal roofs of Tenebres & El Laboratori is home to some of Margalef's most difficult routes, mostly STEEP & bouldery. At center (left of the brown streak with the big hole) is Darwin Dixit, 5.14a, onsighted by Sharma & [[free-soloed by Dave Mcleod]]davemacleod.blogspot.com/20…. Vertical walls, slightly overhanging tufa pinching, 45 degree overhangs that go on for ever--all within a short drive from town. Another unique attribute of this crag is the relative proximity of routes for all appetites. For example, at El Laboratori, its possible to work a 9b project literally no more than 30 feet (as the crow flies) from well-bolted 5.6 slabs on the Can Llepafils (above) and the far right end of El Laboratori (below & obscured by trees. cliffline immediately above. At Finestra, one of the best 5.11 sport routes on the planet sits no more than 100 feet from a wall with no less than nine 5.14 (or harder) sport climbs! Additionally, route lengths very quite a bit (up to ~35 meter pitches), so its possible for both power-junkies & enduro-fiends to find world class routes to push their limits.
Some memorable events of the last several years include:
- A pair of 8b+ (5.14a) On-sights by Chris Sharma ON THE SAME DAY, 26 Nov 2006 (way back when on-sighting a lowly 14a was still considered a big deal).
- Dave Mcleod's free solo of El Laboratori is home to some of Margalef's most difficult routes, mostly STEEP & bouldery. At center (left of the brown streak with the big hole) is Darwin Dixit, 5.14a, onsighted by Sharma & [[free-soloed by Dave Mcleod]]davemacleod.blogspot.com/20…. (then considered 8c or 5.14b, but listed in the current guidebook as "merely" 5.14a) in March 2008
- Chris Sharma's first ascent of Dimensia Senil, 9a+ (5.15a), currently Margalef's hardest route, but who knows for how long. Sharma was working a project a few hundred feet to the right that looks even harder. at 9a+ (5.15a), currently the hardest free route at Margalef, and among the hardest in the world, in February 2009.
- 8c (5.14b) On-sights in spring 2009 by Adam Ondra (L'espiadimonis) and Edu Marin ( Finestra cliff with a few key routes marked. )
- Chris Sharma brought the 9b (5.15b) grade to Margalef with his long-anticipated ascend of First Round, First Minute in April 2011. This route became the center of the infamous "red tag" controversy when Nalle Hukkataival made his intentions to bag the line public.
When to Visit
Considering the climate, this is primarily a Fall-Winter-Spring destination. Even the shaded cliffs can be climbable in December on a warm day. This is a popular winter destination for many European climbers, and a quick survey of the first ascent history shows that nearly all of the difficult climbing happens here between late October & early March, with a heavy bias towards December & February.
Once you have your car, follow etiher the C32 (along the coast) or the AP7/E-15 towards Tarragona. These two routes merge before Tarragona. These are both toll roads. Expect to pay around $15 for the one hour drive (or take one of the free, quaint at first but soon slow & annoying free highways). Get on the T-11 in Tarragona (following signs towards Reus), then onto the N420. After a few Kms, there are two options, to head North or South of Montsant National Park to reach Margalef, which lies on the opposite side. For the Northern route, take the C242 towards "Cornudella de Montsant", passing by the Arboli, Siurana, & Montsant cliffs along the way. After ~50K's, go left on T713 and follow this for ~9K's to Margalef. The Southern option is to stay on the N420 for another 20K's or so, then follow any number of twisty roads North to Margalef. One such route is to follow the T710 North to La Vilella Baixa, then go left onto the T702, and follow this to La Bisbal de Falset, where you go right onto the T713 and another 5K's to Margalef.
There are two main groupings of crags, one set directly east of town up the narrow canyon that leads to the "Ermita Sant Salvador" shrine. The other, larger area is located ~1.5km north of Margalef, along the large winding canyon of the Margalef "Embassent" (reservoir).
Where to Stay
The most popular option is the The Can Severet Refugi is the most modestly priced receptical for your stinky remains. owned & operated by legendary local route developer & guidebook author Jordi Pou. Mr. Pou is an extremely gracious host, quiet, thoughtful & romantic. His ode to Margalef (found in the intro to the guidebook) is a work of art that will touch the soul of all true climbing fanatics. He speaks very little english so some Spanish competency will be helpful. You may see him at the crag bolting projects for Chris & Dani.
Located near the top of the hill in the town of Margalef, the Refugi is a crowded little house, with three-stories approximately 20' by 20' in size. Remarkably this tiny space boasts room for more than 30 climbers, at 8 Euro per night in Dec 09, including free wifi & hot showers. The downstairs holds the small bathroom & shower with a surprisingly large supply of hot water. The refugi cooking/hang out area. is the main hang, with beautiful climbing murals, photos of the best routes at Margalef, couches, tables, racks of magazines and a small cooking area with running cold water and no stove. The The sleeping level, an incubus of viral plague. are fully third-world. There are ~30 mattress, laid side-to-side, on two levels. Be sure your vaccinations are up to date before you check in, and if you have even the least trouble sleeping, consider other options. Many of the visitors here were extremely obnoxious, loud, and completely disrespectful of obvious quiet times or quiet areas. If you require sleep, look elsewhere. You can buy a shower here for a couple Euros. The real advantage of this place is the cooking & hang out area on the mid level that makes the long winter nights way more enjoyable.
There is free camping at the base of the damn, though it appeared people were camping all along the damn road with no issues. Presumably this is quieter than the Refugi. There is a free water font in Margelef at the SE corner of the church.
There are at least two other upscale options. The Tres Pines quoted a price of 30 Euro per person per night. Must be pretty nice for that price!
Margalef has a small cafe, a nicer-looking restaurant, and a very meager market at the NE corner of the church. The Refugi sells basic necessities (liquor & cookies).
Classic Climbing Routes at Margalef
Days w Precip