TOPO Climbing

Gomez-Xalmet a la Prenyada, Montserrat, Spain

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dans la fissure de la 2ème longueur

A great classic Montserrat route on one of the massif's emblematic needles: la Prenyada (the pregnant woman) located in the northern sector of San Benet. Traced on the south face, it mainly involves following a long crack that zig-zags up the rock to emerge at over 1100m, alongside the Elefant and Momia, which also dominate the sector. A difficult 1st pitch with a V+ chimney and a complicated 6a exit (but obviously worth more), which can fortunately be passed in A0! The rest is splendid, with a sustained V level and an exceptional atmosphere.

Technical summary

Access to the place

From Barcelona, take the A2 towards Leida and exit at junction 570 at the Bruc hotel. Just after, turn right towards Manresa and the monastery (at the abandoned petrol station). The road winds up to the Can Maçana pass. Just after the small pass, turn right towards the monastery on the road that runs along the cliffs of Montserrat's north face. Pass the Santa Cecilia refuge and drive almost to the entrance to the monastery. Park just before the parking lot, in one of the bends where you can leave your car.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h

From the road, take the cami dels degotalls, which starts with a flight of stairs in a bend. Just after the staircase, turn right to take the little path that climbs up following the canal del Pou del Gat. This is a steep path (it heats up very quickly!) which in 20 minutes takes you back to the GR 172 on the left. Follow the GR around Montserrat's easternmost needles. Pass the Pla de la Trinitat and, shortly before or shortly after an old ruined gate, fork right onto one of the paths leading to the San Benet free refuge. Keep to the path that runs alongside the refuge and continue along it for a few dozen metres until you come to a path that veers off to the right in a Y-shape. The Prenyada can now be seen overhead. The path twists and turns upwards, passing over a sloping rocky slab before emerging into a wide gully under the trees at the foot of the Prenyada. Climb a little further to the left towards the wall to find a large fault that runs between 2 walls. Higher up, you can see two trees nestling in the hollow of the crack and a first plate 5 or 6m above the ground on the right-hand side. This is the start of the route.

Course

The route is south-facing and 145m long in 4 (or 5) equipped pitches (35m, 30m, 30m, 50m). The equipment is average, rather spaced out except on the difficult L1 passage. Bring 12 quickdraws, 3 lanyards for Sabines and a few recoverable plates. Maximum free climbing level is 6a/6b, otherwise V+/A0.


L1 (35m, 6a/6b or V+/A0)

Climb up the crack to find the first tag, which is clearly visible but quite far away. Continue to the first shrub where you can secure yourself with a tag recoverable from a buril on the right. A few more easy metres and there's a flat spot where you can stand at the foot of the chimney. This second part of the first pitch is the most complicated. The first 3 or 4 points are in V+ with little space and leaking holds that don't grip well because they've been polished by the humidity. The end of the chimney is really difficult (a good 6a/6b in free climbing). A series of old nails close together allow us to pull on the last few meters. At the exit (V+), a good hold allows you to free-climb to the first R1 belay, which is quite comfortable.


L2 (30m, V)

Go left to follow the large crack that runs diagonally upwards. This pitch is obviously less demanding than the first, but very poorly equipped. You'll need lanyards to secure yourself on the 3 bushes you come across on the first 15 meters. Much higher up, there's a plate and then a last one a little before R2. In short, a very pleasant, more aerial pitch where you have to commit yourself a little. Relay 2 is less comfortable than the first.


L3 (30m, V-)

Continue up the crack. The rock is polished on the inside and of better quality as you move away from the crack. Still few points: only 2 well-spaced pads and a shrub to get out, but there's the possibility of putting down one or 2 friends for protection (we didn't have any... only stoppers, but they didn't hold). Great climbing, great atmosphere. After the shrub, we come out under the "belly" of the Prenyada and we have to fork right to finish in III up to the tree where we can put the belay 3 in very good conditions.


L4 and L5 (50m, V-)

This last pitch can normally be done in 2 pitches, but we wanted to go one after the other. The drawback is the pull... Not sure it's worth it. Climb above belay 3 to reach a flat area facing the wall. Climbing straight up, we find a tricky belay point (but it's the only one!) before traversing diagonally left along the large fault. After 7 or 8 metres, you find a belay point (if you want to cut this last pitch in 2) to belay yourself and continue around to the left of the final dome. At this point, you have to fork right again to climb the last 20/25 metres of the route. There are pads, but you'll have to look for them. A tricky V-shaped passage and a large slab just waiting to collapse, which is best avoided. Arrival at the summit for a bird's-eye view of the south faces of Momia and Elefant.

Back

At the summit, descend a little to the north-west to find a new belay which will enable us to install the 25/30m exit abseil. Lower down, we land in a narrow, steep channel. Descend for a while between shrubs and roots. A passage equipped with a knotted rope indicates that you're on the right path. Finally, you find the path that leads back to the San Benet refuge on the left. Then it's back the way you came. Leave the refuge and take the GR to the left. After skirting the massif to the north, fork right down the Pou del Gat canal and rejoin the car.

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