TOPO Climbing

Via Iglesias-Casanovas a la Bessona Inferior, Montserrat, Spain

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If you want to test your equipment and your artificial climbing skills, this is the route for you! The route, also known as Baby, is located on the aiguille de la Bessone inferior and was opened in 1966 by A.Iglesias, J.Casanovas and F.Guillamon. It is very (more than!) vertical, physical, sustained, difficult and long! In short, those of us who had set out for an autumn outing that wasn't too strenuous were well served... 3h30 of effort to pass dozens of pitches in A0, A1e and one pitch in A2e, with our asses in the void, fortunately with clement weather and a magnificent autumn setting. Very well equipped on the first 4 pitches, which, if you're worth 6c/7a in head-on view, allows you to go all the way free (!), the last pitch is more than borderline, and it's better to have a few friends with you to protect the exit. A few passages in V+/6a are very pleasant, but otherwise far too artificial for our taste... We're going to have to work hard to become free! And as a bonus today, incredible autumn colors in the heart of the Agulles.

Technical summary

Access to the place

To Can Maçana, on the western side of the Montserrat massif. From Barcelona, take the A2 towards Leida and exit at Le Bruc, junction 572. Pass the large hotel at Le Bruc and turn right immediately afterwards towards Manresa and Montserrat. After a few hairpin bends, you'll reach the pass and there's a parking lot on the right where you can leave your car.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 40'

Take the G.R 172 towards Santa Cecilia via the cami de la Roca Foradada. Turn right further on at the Collet de Guirlo (10′) to take the path leading to Coll de la Portella and Refuge Vicenç Barbé, marked in yellow and white. Pass La Portella and continue along the path downhill and then uphill to the refuge. At the refuge there is a large boulder above. Take the left-hand path up the canal to the Bessones. At the top, you can see the 2 needles side by side. A little further on, go up on a very small path to the right at a slab of rock (purple markings). You then go under the trees and reach the wide channel that rises to the north. The first wall on the left is the Vespa wall, the next is the right one. Climb up close to the rock until you find a large tree (Teix) with big branches that spread out close to the cliff and which will enable us to reach the first nail 7/8 m above ground, in the foliage (10′ from the refuge).

Course

The route, opened in 1966 (!), is east-facing and 135m long in 5 pitches (35m, 30m, 15m, 30m, 25m). The free climbing level is equivalent to 6c or a little more, but it's equipped to go up to artif'. You'll need 18 quickdraws, 2 recoverable plates, small and medium-sized jammers and friends, and a ladder for the A2e pitch. Compulsory level 6a.


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

We climb with branches and rock to reach the first nail. A good step up to 6a immediately afterwards, which we can switch to A0, then the next 30m are very sustained and are climbed repeatedly in A0, except for a few passages in V+. It's long and tiring. We follow the line of closely spaced nails straight up, then slightly to the left in a vertical crack, finishing on a big 6b+/A0 step (overhang) to reach the first comfortable belay in a hollow. Phew...


L2 (30m, 6b or V/A0)

Here we go again. Left to follow the crack. The first part can reasonably be done free (V+/6a) given the proximity of the points, although the exit from the crack is more difficult with a bulge to overcome (6b) and can be done in A0. The last few meters (without nails!) are easy in IV+ to reach the 2nd comfortable belay also under a zone of holes in the wall and a nice overhang to come!


L3 (15m, A2e or 6c+)

This is the place to be. Big overhang on the traverse. Short and super tonic! To make things worse, the nail on the dome is already a long way off and it's an old buril on which you have to place a recoverable plate! It's over and we're in a big hollow once again to do the 3rd belay.


L4 (30m, 6c or V+-6a/A1e)

Exit to the left and climb steeply upwards. Big step (6c) where the ladder may come in handy, given the strength we've left so far (A1e with a recoverable plate if we want to equip a little higher up). We come to a crack with a shrub that we have to pass on the left in V+/6a. The last few metres are easier: V then IV+ without any real nail to reach R4, under the big final blister.


L5 (25m, 6c or V+/A1e)

2 complicated pitches starting on the left in 6c, where you place the ladder to switch to A1e, then the end of the route is free climbing in V+ then IV to finish. BUT beware of the old-fashioned equipment (rusty pitons, attacked burils and the very crumbly left-hand part of the rock that's just waiting to be broken! So we put in one or two stoppers or friends (better) to protect the exit and climb to the right. Arriving on the summit ... exhausted!

Back

A very aerial 35-metre abseil on the west side between the 2 Bessones on fairly average equipment. We land on a narrow channel between the 2 walls. Then descend a little on the north side to place a second abseil of around ten metres on a tree to lead to the small pass with l'Arbret. For the return journey, take the ridge path marked in red which returns north to the passage de la Portella and then to the Can Maçana parking lot.

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