TOPO Canyoning

Canal del Melindro, Montserrat

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impressionnant 1er rappel le long du Melindro

This route, like its neighbor on the Canal del Lloro, has been equipped by the GAM (Grup d'Alta Muntanya) to enable rapid descent from the upper zone of the Frares Encantats to join the path along the foot of the great cliffs of the north face. This makes for a nice alternative loop to the Agulles traverse. The canal lies exactly between the aiguille de la Nina (west) and the aiguille de la Boleta Foradada (east) on the cami d'Alta Ruta dels Frares. A smaller needle in the shape of a long pointed boudoir (Melindro) is stuck there, hence the name of the route. 3 very well-equipped abseils, the 1st of which was very aerial, and the following ones were very steep, resulting in a few cold sweats when it came to hauling in the rope: stuck, not stuck? The return via the north face and the famous Cadireta is also well worth the detour.

Technical summary

Location ✦ Montserrat
Region ✦ Catalunya
Country ✦ Spain
Type ✦ Dry canyon
Vertical rise ✦ 120m
Difficulty ✦ v4-a1-II
Max abseiling ✦ 40m
Duration ✦ 2h30 to 3h
Distance ✦ 1600m

Access to the place

To the Can Maçana pass, at the westernmost point of the Montserrat massif. From Barcelona, take the A2 and exit at Hotel Brucs (no. 572), after the Bruc exit. Immediately afterwards, turn off towards Montserrat and the monastery to reach the Can Maçana pass after a few hairpin bends. Park in the parking lot below.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Course 1h

The canal was equipped in 1990 and the existing equipment is very good (chain bolts). The route faces due north and involves 3 abseils of 40m each, each very different from the next. You'll need a shunt or machard to manage the R1 without any problems.

Part 1: Traversée des Agulles to Frares Encantats (1h)

Take the GR towards La Foradada and branch off at Col de Guirló (15′) towards La Portella. Continue on to the Sant Barbé refuge (40′), in the heart of the Agulles cirque, which you'll have to pass to reach the Ampla canal, which runs straight up to the upper Frares Encantats area. Before arriving at the Portell d'Estret, take the blue-marked path to the right, which after a few zig-zags and small passes leads flush with the north face, to the level of the canal entrance (1h from can Maçana). It's easily recognizable: a large hole with 2 parallel cliffs that form a narrow, high window onto the plain 250m below. The 1st abseil is on the right as you climb up a little to the right of the chasm. Here you'll find a beautiful (and reassuring!) plaque.
Part 2: Abseiling in the canal

Abseil 1 (40m)

This is the most aerial and impressive. You slide vertically down to the bottom of the hole, which you can't see at first. Gradually, the light fades and you sink into a vertiginous chimney that gets narrower and narrower. At last, the ground approaches, with a large boulder wedged in by a few pebbles. Below, we touch down on a narrow passage that gently slopes down to rappel 2.

Abseil 2 (40m)

There's no visibility at the start, as it starts out in the vegetation. It's a bit of a struggle to get out, with a lot of rocks on the ground just waiting to go. The rest of the route is very steep, and we finish with a more vertical body-width pitch to land at rappel 3. You can then take a look above right at the very steep north face of Le Bisbe and its 200m of totally vertical wall.

Rappel 3 (40m)

A little clearer at the start, a good ten meters of staircase then a left turn. The route then opens out onto the valley, and the last vertical pitch leads slightly above the path that links Coll de Porc to Portell d'Estret.

Back

Take the path to the left and you'll immediately come to a fork in the road leading to the GR and the Roca Foradada, in the direction of Can Maçana. You pass on the GR at the foot of the Roca Foradada and above all at the foot of the Cadireta, also known as Moro del Gos (dog's snout), which could just as well be called "the ninja turtle", and it's quite a climb!

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