TOPO Canyoning

Canal del Xacó, Montserrat

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Canal Xacó (pronounced "tchaco") is a sort of large rocky fissure in the heart of the immense Garrigoses pyramid, which dominates the village of Collbato, south of Montserrat. Completely lost at the end of an inaccessible ravine, it nevertheless offers geological treasures and an airy, wild atmosphere. A series of abseils, 2 of which are very steep and vertical, lead to the discovery of lapiaz or lapié, an astonishing geological formation created by rainwater runoff dissolving the rock or by the freezing and thawing cycles of the water inside the soil. In short, this little-known canyon deserves to remain so, to preserve this exceptional environment. On the other hand, the descent is long, the abseils physical and technical, and the course covered with brambles in top form.

Technical summary

Location ✦ Collbato
Region ✦ Montserrat, Catalunya
Country ✦ Spain
Type ✦ Dry canyon
Vertical rise ✦ 250m
Difficulty ✦ v3-a1-II
Duration ✦ 2h to 2h30
Max abseil ✦ 35m

Access to the place

From Barcelona, take the A2 towards Lerida 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, where there is parking (and even a chiringuito).

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h30

Climb the Drecera de Fra Gari to reach the cami de les Bateries. Leave the fork on the left that climbs to Sant Joan and continue for 15′ to a large left-hand bend that passes over the crest of les Garrigoses. At the start of the bend, a cairn indicates a very small path that goes below and joins the ridge due south. The path descends a little and reaches the Col de les Garrigoses. Leave the downhill start on the left (towards torrent fondo) and continue straight on to climb the first summit of the serrat. Then descend on the other side to reach a small pass formed with the 2nd summit. Here you'll find a well-trodden path winding down to the Canal del Xacó. Take it, continuing straight ahead through the jungle to follow the bed of the canal to the 1st abseil.

Course 2h

The barranco runs south-west through the middle of Serrat de les Garrigoses. A series of 8 rappels (to be confirmed). The equipment in place is very good. While the approach is rather paumatic, the descent poses no problems whatsoever. Plan at least one 2x50m.

Ideally, the approach should be replaced by an ascent of torrent Fondo or torrent Font Seca, to create a more interesting loop.

1st part

The route is boxed and starts with a fairly vertical 1st abseil of 7/8m through abundant vegetation. Take great care when pulling the rope to avoid getting it caught in all the branches and brambles, especially as there is no way out once you've entered the canal.

The 2d abseil of around 15m is much more impressive. The descent is aerial, with lateral supports on narrow, almost parallel walls offering few handholds.

Then comes the 3rd abseil of at least 30m, the same as the previous one, even more aerial and above all in the middle of an orange rock, chiselled by the erosion of the waters. You can stop in the middle to admire the geological striations and crenellations before touching down and enjoying the splendid chimney you've just descended.
Part 2

Less interesting. The channel widens a little and you have to climb 5 or 6 more abseils, less and less steep, but still colonized by mountains of brambles, to finally reach the bottom of the barranco, a few metres above the road.

Back

At the foot of the barranco, take the little path that goes off to the right to meet the road again at the bend. From here, turn right and in 5′ you'll reach the Hermita de la Salut parking lot.

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