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Canal de la Sarah, Montrebei

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The Canal de la Sarah lies close to the Pantano de Canelles, which marks the end of Catalan territory, and a stone's throw from the impressive Montrebeï defile in the Montsec d'Ares. The track overlooks the Pardina barranc, which is already home to one of the local vias ferratas: the Urquiza-Olmo. In fact, it's ideal to climb up the Pardina and the ferrata before returning via the ridges to complete the route via the Canal de la Sara and return to the starting point. It's mainly a series of abseils (5 minimum) that take you down the feixa del Moro, a gigantic horizontal rock bar of grey and yellow-orange hues. The longest abseil is 27m, two of which are "volados". A magnificent, wild setting, splendid rocky cirques, great waterfalls eroded by the waters, with the glistening turquoise-blue waters of the Pantano in perspective, in a small corner of the frame on the far right.

Technical summary

Location ✦ Corça, Ager
Region ✦ Montrebei, Catalunya
Country ✦ Spain
Type ✦ Dry canyon
Vertical rise ✦ 200m
Difficulty ✦ v3-a1-II
Duration ✦ 3h to 4h
Max abseiling ✦ 27m

Access to the place

40 kms before Leida (coming from Barcelona on the A2), turn north towards Balaguer then Ager. Go as far as the village of Corça, 7 kms from Ager. As you enter Corça, turn right onto the semi-bitumen track towards La Pertusa. After a few hairpin bends, you come to a cul de sac at the top of the Pertusa rock, at the foot of the Pantano de Canelles. This is the starting point.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 30'

Described here from the end of the Olmo-Urquiza ferrata: take the path marked with red and white dots, which heads due west along the ridge and cliff edge. After about 15′, you pass beneath the ruins of the castell de Sant Llorenç de Montsec. After a further 10-15′, the path descends and curves sharply to the right. A cairn marks the beginning of the barranco. Then descend southwards into the bed, there are a few small cascading boulders to bypass or de-escalate to quickly arrive at the edge of the void, at the top of the 1st cirque. To the right is the builders' plate, and by descending a little with the lifeline you reach the 1st abseil installation.

Course 2h

The barranco is totally dry and south-facing. It was opened in 1998. It can be rated Moderately Difficult. The equipment in place is good and in good condition. The approach to the barranco is not easy to find, but the orientation and itinerary for the descent are not difficult. It may be possible to make an approach without using the ferrata, see the post on the Canal de la Piula.

Rappel 1 (23m)

Very well equipped, the abseil starts from a small platform on the edge of the void. The abseil is vertical but not difficult.
Rappel 2 (27m)

The highest. Also vertical, it lands us on a sort of intermediate plateau from which, it seems, it would be possible to exit in the event of a problem (we didn't test it). Then there's a small junction with a first waterfall some ten meters long, which you can bypass without too much difficulty on the right.
Rappel 3 (13m)

This is a second waterfall, this time impassable without abseiling. The descent is easy and less vertical. Then continue down the barranc with a series of boulders cluttering up the torrent bed.
Abseil 4 (19m)

This one is "volado" at the bottom. You end up completely suspended. No difficulty, but a belay device is essential (for the first) or a counter-belay (for the second). From the top of the cliff, you can admire the path you've travelled and the succession of cirques. Below, there are 2 more abseils of 17m and 11m, which can also be bypassed (in dry weather) to the right or left, as the rock is sloping.
Abseil 5 (17m)

The exit from the barranco is a couloir between pitons in the shape of pointed fingers. This last obligatory abseil is not difficult either, and all you have to do afterwards is follow the path into the hollow of the Pardina barranco bed.

Back

2 possible options: descend the Pardina barranc to the right to join the GR which will take us back to the parking lot. This option is a little more difficult as the Pardina barranc is moderately passable.

Alternatively, climb up the Pardina barranc to the left, more or less following the few kairns there. It's pretty rock'n'roll here too, and you have to improvise as best you can, but after 10′ you reach the approach path to the Urquia-Olmo ferrata, which you simply take back to the parking lot.

Map & topo

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