TOPO Canyoning

Torrent Fondo, Montserrat

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Sortie expo au départ

On the southern slopes of Montserrat, the Fondo torrent lies between Serrat de les Garigoses and Serrat dels Monjos. Difficult to classify, between via ferrata and equipped canal, or off-road trekking, it's all about climbing up the bed of a torrent that's a bit lost. The first part of the route is already tricky, with a sort of cave from which you have to extricate yourself 5m higher without belaying, and a 2nd part of unequipped route where you have to improvise in the V, still without rope. The finish is a demanding and technical semi-equipped route through a wild and inaccessible area. In a way, it's a Mejillon version of the Joc de l'Oca, but without the ropes. If you like, you can round off the trip with a descent of the Font Seca torrent for a good day out in Montserrat.

Technical summary

Location ✦ Collbato
Region ✦ Montserrat, Catalunya
Country ✦ Spain
Type ✦ Dry canyon
Vertical rise ✦ 350m
Difficulty ✦ K3 / Diff
Duration ✦ 3h to 4h

Access to the place

From Barcelona, take the A2 towards Lleida and exit at Collbato. Do not enter the village (which is up ahead on the left) and continue along the road, quickly turning left towards the Coves del Salnitre and the Ermita de la Salut. Pass the Salut parking lot and continue up a few hairpin bends to the end of the road, where you can park in a cul-de-sac parking lot.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 15'

Take the stairs going up and then head due east along the cliff. Pass the Cova del Salnitre and continue due east on the GR 172 or cami de les Feixades. You pass at the foot of a rock-climbing area, then the path bends slightly left to the north and approaches a wide gorge between the Serrat de les Garrigoses and the Serrat dels Monjos. This is the starting point. The entrance to the barranco is easy to spot: in the bend that crosses the torrent, a huge boulder is wedged between 2 walls forming a kind of cave.

Course 2h à 2h30

The route climbs some 350m in altitude and is predominantly south-facing. Except for the equipped start, the rest is adventure terrain. The route is not easy to find either. The route is not easy to find either. Be sure to bring abseiling gear just in case, and a good dose of energy and mental strength.

Part 1

The most complicated part is the start and the passage under the rocks to get out of the "cave". Once you've entered the space beneath the large boulder, you have to climb with some opposition, either to reach the cable at the very top, which is risky because there's no belay and the rock seems crumbly, or to slip into a hole (without the bag) and sneak up to the cable. Once you've reached the cable, you can secure yourself to it and climb out of the hole through the opening, making yourself very small or very thin, it's up to you. It's a highly original passage, but one that's both challenging and exposed. Then comes a series of jumps and gullies that can be negotiated with the aid of chains, without any real difficulty. The passages are quite steep, but gradually widen out and you emerge onto a small wooded plateau.
Transition

Walk for a few minutes, easily following the bed of the torrent as it runs due north, slightly to the west. Above you can see the surrounding needles and above all the ridge of Serrat de les Garigoses. We then enter a 2nd series of passages, this time equipped with knotted ropes. It's not so easy, and some of the passages are tricky: unbalances, oppositions, slippery footholds, blockages. Once we're out, we can say that the first part is over, and from this point on, the ascent of the torrent will be totally improvised.
Part 2

Continue to follow the torrent bed, although the path is much less cleared and often obstructed by branches, brambles and tree trunks. Then there's a series of really tricky boulders, like 2 or 3 V-shaped steps. Then there are a few more aerial and exposed passages, notably when you come up against an impassable 10m vertical gully that you can bypass to the right, improvising a route on the rock (IV+/V). Then, at the very top, after 2 hours from the cami de les Feixades, we come out onto the cami vell de Collbato al monastir, at the level of a small stone bridge. End of the torrent.

Back

Either walk back to the right (GR 172) or to the left (Drecera de fra Gari), or, as we did, combine the return with the descent of the Font Seca torrent o Santa Caterina torrent, a little further west. From the Fondo torrent exit, head left due west on the wide path and after 15′, you'll find the fork on the right towards Sant Joan. Continue straight ahead, the path will go down and then go south, following the bed of a torrent for a few dozen meters. This is the Font Seca torrent, the start of which is just a little further down.

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