TOPO Climbing

Ven-Suri-Ven a la Bandereta, Montserrat, Spain

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Visible from Can Maçana, La Bandereta is one of the central pieces of the impressive west face of Les Agulles. The route is logical and varied, with an extraordinary, airy atmosphere. The pitches follow a huge dihedral that runs diagonally upwards, ending in a chimney 150m above the ground. The level is steady without being too difficult, particularly on pitches 2 and 3. The equipment is eclectic in the classic spirit: the 1st and last pitches are not equipped (friends and lanyards are compulsory) and the central pitches benefit from a whole host of things left over from previous ascents: pitons, burils, parabolts, jammers... In short, a great route, to be (re)done without hesitation, in a very impressive setting.

Technical summary

Access to the place

To Can Maçana, on the western side of the Montserrat massif. From Barcelona, take the A2 towards Leida and exit at Le Bruc, junction 570. Pass the large hotel at Le Bruc and turn right immediately afterwards towards Manresa and Montserrat. After a few hairpin bends, you'll reach the pass and there's a parking lot on the right where you can leave your car.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 30'

Follow the G.R 172 towards Santa Cecilia along the cami de la Roca Foradada to Coll de Guirló. Here, go straight ahead on a narrow path between the path to La Portella and the GR. Head more or less straight towards the cliffs. The path is narrow and stony, and quite steep at the end. You'll reach the foot of the Bandereta wall. Go right and climb 5/6m to find the obvious start of the route, with the beginning of the dihedral and a view of the entire route above (in the photo, the rope party ahead of us).

Course

The route, opened in 1958, faces west and is 140m long in 5 pitches (25m, 35m, 20m, 45m, 10m). The route is semi-equipped: 12 quickdraws for L2, L3 and a set of friends for the rest, 4 or 5 lanyards for sabines, a retrievable plate.


L1 (25m, IV+)

Nothing difficult to start with. The first few meters are fairly obvious but unprotected (IV+). Place a friend halfway up, then a lanyard on one of the higher trees. The route then continues almost on foot (II) to reach the R1 belay on the last tree.


L2 (35m, V+)

Extraordinary length, very easy to read, up the large crack that forms a dihedral on the side of the wall. The first few meters are quite difficult (V+), with polished rock and loose holds. What's more, the 1st nail is really high. After this vertical start, the dihedral continues at a steeper angle (V), with plenty of equipment, right up to the belay. Higher up, the 2nd tricky vertical passage (V+). You've got what it takes, but you've got to look a little harder, sometimes extracting yourself from the dihedral and taking the gas right in your face... Suffice to say, the atmosphere is impressive from this point on! The end of the pitch is easier (V), ending up on a very narrow ledge on the edge of the void, where you'll find the R2 belay.


L3 (20m, 6a or V+/A0)

Magnificent pitch! Start by traversing to the left with finesse (V+), then climb straight up the small crack. Fine, technical passage (6a) with over 100m of gas underfoot and a bird's-eye view of Can Maçana, the Catalan plain and even the Pyrenees in the distance. There's a plethora of nails and other pitons, so you can get through by pulling quickdraws without any problem (A0). The end of the pitch is still quite tricky (V+). Relay R3 is located here, on a fairly comfortable shelf just below the start of the final chimney.


L4 (45m, V/IV+)

This is a surprising length where you have to climb up this large, very vertical chimney with the help of tree branches emerging from who knows where. The exit from the belay is not so obvious (V). Not only do you have to deal with the guano spilled by the locals, but there's no equipment either. So we put up one or 2 friends before reaching the heart of the chimney, where it's easy to rig up with lanyards. The climb is not really difficult (IV+), but you'll need to work against the opposition and get flat to slip between branches and rock. At the end of this jungle route, you come out on a small dome that you have to climb without any protection! Warning: don't fall, as it's really exposed! Fortunately, there's everything you need, and you can even find 2 buril heads at the top left where you can place a recoverable plate (especially to avoid a pendulum from the second). The R4 belay is mounted either on the tree at the foot of the summit block, or on the ground on brand-new equipment.


L5 (10m, III)

To be climbed without equipment, just to reach the summit, enjoy an incredible vista over the Agulles sector and find the R5 belay that will enable you to rappel out.

Back

From the summit, abseil 40m up the south-east face to land almost on the path of the Les Agulles traverse (red marks), which you simply take to the right to reach La Portella in 20′. From here, the 25′ return to Can Maçana is a leisurely one, passing back over the Coll de Guirlo and under the Bandereta, time enough to admire the magnificent dihedral we've just made. At the foot of the 40m abseil is also the series of 3 Figuereta abseils (25m + 45m + 30m), which we'll be trying out soon and which could make a rather original return. There remains a 3rd option from belay point R4 (i.e. before the summit): de-escalate to the left to find a narrow, gullied channel that descends to the right towards the path of the Agulles traverse. It doesn't look easy, and you'll certainly have to do a little abseiling from a tree at the end. In any case, it can be used to climb back up in our case, i.e. with an abseiling rope blocked at the top!

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