TOPO Climbing

Esquena del Diable a la Roca dels Onze, Montserrat, Spain

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Au sommet de l’Esquena

A Montserrat classic, in the classic spirit. The route is very accessible, with a level no higher than V, but with nails that are very, very far away. From the Canal dels Avelaners, you climb up the Devil's Spine to reach the summit of the immense Roca dels Onze or Paret dels Diables on its west face. The difficulty lies more in finding the bolts lost in a veritable sea of rock. In a nutshell: 4 pitches between 45 and 55m, a bolt every 10m or so, an impressive atmosphere with the great walls of the Serrat dels Patriarques in the back and a breathtaking view of the Cavall Bernat at the top. Even if this route isn't unforgettable, being fairly repetitive in terms of climbing, it's an original option for a pretty viewpoint.

Technical summary

Access to the place

From Barcelona, take the A2 towards Leida and exit after Le Bruc at the Grand Hotel du Bruc. Further on, turn right towards the monastery and climb up to the Can Maçana pass, at the westernmost point of the massif. Just after the pass, turn right towards the monastery and follow the road along the cliffs to the Santa Cecilia refuge (12th-century church, I believe), where you can park. The approach path starts just after the refuge on the other side of the road.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h

It's not easy. Go past the refuge parking area towards the monastery and cross it. You'll immediately find the GR, which you should follow eastwards. The path rises a little, skirting the Aeri wall, then passes under the Serrat dels Patriarques. In the woods, after about 20′, a kairn clearly indicates the entrance to the canal dels Avelaners or canal dels arinjols. There's also a green dot on a stone. This canal is difficult to climb, and even worse to descend, as it is steep and there are no stabilized paths. Dirt, rolling stones, roots... in short, it's a bit of an obstacle course! The starting point of the route is not easy to locate either. After at least 20′ of scrambling between branches and roots, the channel narrows. We skirt the foot of the Serrat dels Patriarques very closely. A large boulder lies across the path. Overcome it and a 2d boulder higher up. Head to the other side (left) to reach the foot of serrat dels Onze. >On the path, 2 kairns are clearly visible, one with a wooden stick stuck in it. This is the place. Reach the base of the rock. There's a small tree lying down and we've put a pile of stones in the place where we started. The 1st nail is 10/12m away between 2 grassy areas.

Course

The route, opened in 2007, is west-facing and 195m long in 4 pitches (55m, 45m, 50m, 45m). 8 quickdraws are sufficient, given the spacing between the nails.


L1 (55m, V)

It's all in the feet! Tiny handholds, trust your feet. The first nail is very high, the second also very high. Easy climbing, but it's fine and you must avoid falling before the 3rd nail. The route is almost straight, a little to the right at the start, then straight on to the tree line, under which you'll find the R1 belay, impeccable. 5 quickdraws to place.


L2 (40m, V)

Exit the belay diagonally to the right, then after the 2nd point, climb straight up. At 2/3 of the way up, a more vertical V-shaped passage. On this length, the points are closer together and well placed (7 quickdraws). At the end, we skirt the vegetation zone to cross it to the left and find the R2 belay, comfortable but without a view of the second (unless you hide in retrospect).


L3 (50m, V)

3 quickdraws only. The first at A0m, then look for the second above a well-marked horizontal crack, climbing slightly to the left. A 5a step over the ledge leads to the sea of rock section... A huge rocky dome where you have to keep your eyes wide open to see where the plates are. Fortunately, it's really easy (IV). Relay R3 is on the slope above. The wind starts to pick up and the sun hits us in the face... atmosphere.


L4 (45m, V)

Head straight for the summit. The 1st point is an old buril, then the second above the large vertical ledge on the axis. A step or two in V to climb the ledge and finish in III/IV to the summit. 4 quickdraws. Big gusts of wind that day and a plunging view of the cavall. The R4 belay is just below the summit.

Back

Go south along the Serrat dels Onze ridge. A little further on, climb a few metres to reach a small pass. Here, on the right, along the rock, take the small path in the trees to find a large slab to descend, possibly with a knotted rope placed there. This takes you to the top of the Canal dels Avelaners. Going back down this canal is pretty tough, and I think it's better to catch the Sant Jeroni canal, a little further west. This detour, which we didn't test, is only a detour in appearance, as the descent of the Sant Jeroni canal is much more convenient and takes you directly to the Santa Cecilia refuge.

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