TOPO Canyoning

Canal de la Piula, congost de Montrebei

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Après 60m de rappel aérien

Located in the Montsec d'Ares, near Montrebeï and the pantano de Canelles, this wild and rather inaccessible barranco holds a surprise with a very impressive and totally aerial final abseil, feet and ass in 60m of gas, an immense and sensational slide along a rope that we hope is long enough to touch the ground! The route, equipped in 2000 by the pair Marissé Carbonell and Joaquín Olmo, is rather difficult to find on the net or in the field, but well worth the detour. A succession of at least 5 abseils to cross several rocky bars forming cirques and waterfalls under the sharp eye of the local vultures and in a picture-postcard setting. The canyon combines perfectly with an original return from the Urquiza-Olmo ferrata or the Montrebeï congost trail.

Technical summary

Location ✦ Corça, Ager
Region ✦ Montrebei, Catalunya
Country ✦ Spain
Type ✦ Dry canyon
Vertical rise ✦ 200m
Difficulty ✦ v4-a1-II
Duration ✦ 4h to 4h30
Max abseiling ✦ 60m

Access to the place

About 40 kms before Leida (coming from Barcelona on the A2), turn north to Balaguer and 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 and its hermitage. After a few hairpin bends and a few minutes, you come to a cul de sac at the top of the Pertusa rock, at the foot of the pantano de Canelles. Park here.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h30

Not so easy. If you're coming from Mas Carlets, take the path to the right 50m before you reach the refuge (red and white markings and small kairns). The path is only slightly marked and soon approaches the edge of the cliff. Magnificent view of the Pantano de Canelles (25′ from the refuge). Continue along the same path, more marked this time, which climbs due east along the cliff edge. At one point, after passing a ruined farmhouse on the left, you come across 2 gullies of earth and stone. This is the torrent's passageway, and this is where you need to enter (there are no signs). Descend through rocks and vegetation. It gets steeper, you get closer to the edge, descend further to find below, a little to the right, a large flat rock on which are fixed the plaque indicating the barranco and the first belay (10′ from the entrance to the gullies).

Course 2h

The barranco is totally dry and south-facing. It was opened in 2000 and seems to remain rather secret. The equipment is good, let's say minimal, and the descent is in a very open, aerial formation. You'll need a 2x60m and a brake (machard or shunt).

Rappel 1 (36m)

Start from the rock. The first 10m are gently sloping and covered with small shrubs and plants. Pay close attention to the passage of the rope before rappelling. The next 25m or so are vertical to land on the first step.
Abseil 2 (22m)

Follows in the same footsteps. Vertical, it descends a second, more open rock waterfall. Then descend on foot, following the flow as it forks slightly to the right. There's a series of minor jumps that you can negotiate without difficulty.
Rappel 3 (25m)

The belay is in a tree, which is just in time. This is an inclined slope over wide rock slabs, with a few big steps and some more vertical passages. You can even let yourself go all the way down to the bottom, where the serious stuff begins, right on the edge of the big final void.
Rappel 4 (10m)

A preparatory abseil for the big jump! First plunge into the void, landing on a thin platform suspended from the wall 10 m below. It's time to decide whether or not to go for the big slide (I imagine we could climb back up those 10m if we panicked...). Sensations, dizziness, palpable tension.
Rappel 5 (60m)

The abseil of the year! So far down to the ground. Throw down the rope and get out the binoculars to check that the end is touching. And off we go, straight into the void. Note that the manufacturers indicate 2x65m, but 2x60m is more than enough. There's a final 15m abseil just below, which is optional as it can be bypassed to the left, without too much difficulty, in dry weather anyway. After a few more boulders, follow the path down to the Pardina stream bed.

Back

2 possible options: go right down the Pardina barranc to join the GR which will take us back to the Pertusa parking lot, a slightly more difficult option as the Pardina barranc is moderately passable.

Alternatively, climb up the Pardina barranc to the left, more or less following the few cairns there. It's pretty rock'n'roll here too, and you have to improvise as best you can, but after 20′ you reach the approach path to the Urquiza-Olmo ferrata, which you simply take back to the Pertusa parking lot.

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