TOPO Via ferrata

Canal del Mejillón, Montserrat

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Right next to La Teresina, Montserrat's queen ferrata, an improbable route leads to the summit via the narrow canal del Pou del Glaç or del Mejillón (said to be named after the mussels (mejillon) that were dumped at the top of the canal at the time of a high-altitude restaurant). It's more like climbing up a barranco than a ferrata. Short in duration but 1h intensive, a very difficult climb, physical, steep and technical, where you'd better have plenty of resources and a few climbing principles if you don't want to exhaust yourself or turn back. It's all chains, verticals, overhangs, overhangs and awkward rock with no clear holds. The canal is very steep and due north. So avoid going through it in the middle of winter. Amateur climbers are advised to check out...

Technical summary

Type ✦ Via ferrata
Location ✦ Montserrat
Region ✦ Catalunya
Country ✦ Spain
Vertical rise ✦ 250m
Difficulty ✦ K6
Duration ✦ 3h30 to 4h

Access to the place

Go to the Santa Cecilia refuge parking lot. To get there from Barcelona, take the autopista to Lleida, exit at Bruc (hotel), go up to the Can Maçana pass and just after the pass, turn right towards the monastery on the road that runs along the cliffs to the refuge. It's possible to get there by train + funicular from Plaza Espanya (FCG network), which drops you off at the monastery, but you then have to walk to the Santa Cecilia refuge, a few kms further west. The path starts opposite the refuge on the other side of the road.

Map & topo

On the map, dotted line between Teresina and Canal Sant Jeroni in yellow.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 30'

Take the path opposite the refuge. The path climbs up on the right, joining the GR 172. When you reach an electricity pylon, and below the Santa Cecilia needle, fork left to go up to the large gorge between the 2 cliffs (paret de Santa Cecilia and paret de San Jeroni). You can either follow the torrent bed or go around it to the right (small path). Higher up, the gorge splits into two channels. Take the canal del mejilón on the right (on the left is the canal de san jeroni) and follow it until you reach the foot of the equipped track. At this point, you'll also find the start of the via ferrata de la Teresina on the right. The canal enters a narrow chimney, with a sign reading "canal del mejillón". This is where it all begins. Get your muscles ready!

Course 2h

The canal, which faces due north and has a drop of around 250m, is very steep and vertical. Equipment in place, a little old, without lifelines in places, with some exposed passages. You may need gloves, a safety rope and a good mental attitude.

Length 1

This sets the tone. Fifteen-meter chimney, narrow, vertical, smooth wall. It heats up fast and hard. We come to a rock wedged between the 2 walls and exit by recovering 2m higher and crawling through a mousehole with our feet in the air. Next, the canal continues to climb steeply, and we put in a good series of arm-powered climbs on large chains, the only possible aid (not a single rung).
Length 2

Difficult, even more so than the initial length, this consists of a passage with a slight downward slope, followed by an overhang that requires an awkward recovery. Here, you'll need a lanyard if you want to take a break and give your poor arm and back muscles a breather! The rest is as demanding and steep as ever. There are several small overhanging walls to negotiate and sections of path at 50°. In short, no time to breathe. The last 10 minutes finish you off with a steep dirt and root track where hundreds of mussels lie (discarded by the restaurant at the top of the canal at the time!!) and an endless series of arm pulls to help (although we did it on slippery, muddy ground). Exit to the plateau after 1 hour of continuous effort.

Back

There are several possible options: descend via the Teresina, via the Sant Jeroni canal or, as we did, via the Canal del Moro a little further east, which is what we tried. The latter canal has now been devastated by the heavy rains of the 2000s, and the equipment has suffered. That said, it's not too interesting because it's steep and steep. Only the last part is interesting. You reach the GR-172, which you follow to the left to reach the Santa Cecilia refuge.

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