TOPO Climbing

Boy-Roca a l’Elefant, Montserrat, Spain

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Back to the majestic Aiguille de l'Elefant to climb the thread of its gigantic trompa on an impressive, aerial route dominating the eastern sectors of the Montserrat massif. Re-equipped fairly recently (2008), mainly on the central 6a+ pitch, which can be climbed in artif' if the arms give out, the rest of the route is done in the "classic spirit", i.e. 1 nail on the first 50m and 1 every 15m thereafter... Gas as it should be, a committed length, more than vertical and athletic, make this a rather demanding route, all the more so as we finished with our heads in the clouds, fortunately a few minutes before the storm and rain. Suffice to say, the atmosphere was rather surreal, suspended in 150m of emptiness without seeing the bottom, chilled by the cold, humidity and wind.

Technical summary

Access to the place

From Barcelona, take the A2 to Montserrat, exit after Le Bruc at the Grand Hotel. Shortly afterwards, turn off towards Montserrat and the monastery. The winding road passes through Can Maçana at the western end of the massif. After the pass, turn right to follow the north face. Pass the Santa Cecilia refuge and continue almost to the entrance to the monastery parking lot. At the last bend to the left is the start of the approach walk, signposted "cami dels Degotalls". Park just after the right-hand bend, where there's a space to leave your car.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h

Turn back to take the steps up to cami dels Degotalls. At the top of the steps, turn right to reach the canal del Pou del Gat. This is a very small, unkempt, steep path that weaves its way through the vegetation. There are a few boulders to climb and, after 15′ and a good sweat, you reach the bed of a torrent. There's a kairn or two. Be careful not to go on, and take a hairpin turn to the left a little further up, to go up a yawing path in a forest and rejoin the GR (signpost). Allow around 20′ from the parking lot. Take the GR to the left and follow it. The view is unobstructed and you can quickly and clearly see the Aiguille de la Momia (la Momieta in front) above you on the right, and the Aiguille de l'Elefant with its giant trompa, a little further back but looking incredibly similar! Here on the Pla, fork right at a right angle onto the path leading up to the masion de l'ermite de la Trinitat, pass it and continue. The narrow path passes under the Momieta. Further on, under the trees, you'll find the fork to Sant Salvador, painted yellow on the rock. Climb up to the foot of L'Elefant. The start of the route is on the lowest part, at the base of the Elefant (small path leading to it before the laces under the hermit).

Course

The route, opened in 1960 by J.Lopez (Boy) and M.Roca, is east-facing and 140m long in 4 pitches (50m, 25m, 25m, 45m). Re-equipped in 2008 by the Fédé, bring 16 quickdraws.


L1 (50m, IV)

This is a psycho-block pitch, quite simply, with a single belay point 5m below the belay. Start straight up, then slant to the right. It's very easy at first (III), then there's a more vertical passage with very good holds. Higher up, the rock is well inclined and therefore not difficult, but it's best not to fall... Head for the start of the large crack that forms the trompe. The R1 belay is here, a few meters to the right of the crack.


L2 (25m, V)

Only 2 parabolas along the length, but no difficulty. A very pleasant climb, with good holds. Exit to the right of the belay and follow the rocky ridge that forms the trunk. You start to gain height and the panorama is splendid. In the distance, you can see el riu Llobregat, now laden with light-brown mud, winding its way towards the sea. The comfortable R2 belay is located in a small recess typical of Montserrat, under the pachyderm's forehead.


L3 (25m, 6a+ or V/A0)

So here's the main course, with a very sustained, very vertical, very aerial, very well-equipped pitch... in short, top Montserrat climbing! The line of nails is straight, but it's better to zigzag left to find good holds and a few nice holes to rest on. The first few meters are V, then quickly V+ and 6a. So it's best to have a bit of crate in your fingers, as the length is very steady. Still, the last third in 6a+ is athletic and I ended up in A0, given the state of my left forearm at this point. The R3 belay is still above, suspended and not so comfortable.


L4 and L5 (25m + 20m, V- then IV+)

The last 2 pitches are easy to link up. There are very few nails here too, but the terrain is much easier. Go straight up and then right to find the R4 belay above the large lip that forms the top of the pachidermic front (esque?). There's another twenty meters or so to the summit. The exit from belay R4 is quite vertical but easy, with large holds, and we finish in III to the summit. Relay R5 is on the ground just before the summit. Magnificent views over the area, with the imposing Momia, the Gorras to the right and the villages below in miniature (that is, if you have an unobstructed view, not like us).

Back

From the summit, descend (or rather de-climb carefully, as it's not at all obvious) on the west side to find a small, very narrow and awkward canal. Then continue down the rock, heading even further west to follow the ridge, which eventually joins up with the path leading to the house of the hermit of Sant Salvador, carved into the side of L'Elefant. We find the approach path again and return to the parking lot in the opposite direction in 45′ via the GR and the Canal del Pou del Gat.

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