TOPO Via ferrata

Canal del Cavall Bernat, Montserrat

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It's a great way to discover the north face of the massif and the famous Cavall Bernat, a 300m long thumb stretched skywards, the emblematic rock of Montserrat. The canal itself is fairly easy, with a wide, sloping ramp equipped with knotted ropes, and is a good introductory route. At the foot of the Cavall's south face, the view is splendid and aerial. It's also a direct and original access to the heart of the massif, so you can go on to climb in the area or reach the summit of Sant Jeroni. The return journey can be completed in different ways, either by passing the monastery again, or by descending via the Sant Jeroni canal or the Pou del Gat canal.

Technical summary

Access to the place

From Barcelona, take the A2 towards Leida and exit after Le Bruc at the Grand Hotel du Bruc. Further on, turn right towards the monastery and climb up to the Can Maçana pass, at the westernmost point of the Montserrat massif. Just after the pass, turn right towards the monastery on the BP-1103 road. Pass Santa Cecilia and park on the side of the road just before the entrance to the monastery. The cami dels Degotalls starts here (well signposted) with a staircase.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 45'

Climb the canal del Pou del Gat (cat's well), which starts after 2 bends in the cami dels Degotalls. The path is narrow and steep, with 2 or 3 easy boulder sections. You cross the forest and after about 30 minutes, you come to a junction with the GR-172. Turn right and follow the GR for a few hairpin bends. The Canal del Cavall runs off to the left, under the branches of a dry stream bed (look for the Cavall above).

Course 1h

The canal starts with a 1st passage under trees and on sloping rocky slabs before arriving at the foot of Cavall Bernat. A large knotted rope leads the way. The canal is wide open and the path climbs right up the rock. There are ropes all along the way, but it's easy to do without them if you put your hands and feet to it. Above, the paret dels Diables, the paret dels Patriaques and, further to the right, the paret de l'Aeri. As you approach the base of the peak, the channel narrows and ends in a dirt track that passes to the left but flush with the Cavall. This is an easy exit onto the plateau, even if the terrain is broken up at the end of the route.

Back

There are several options: join the main path linking Sant Jeroni to the Monastery for a longer but more leisurely return. Alternatively, head west to descend via the Sant Jeroni canal at a higher altitude. Avoid the canal dels Arinjols, which is crowded and of little interest. In any case, it's best to have a detailed map of the massif at hand...

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