TOPO Climbing

Punsola-Reniu al Cavall Bernat, Montserrat

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Traced as early as 1971 on the north ridge of Cavall Bernat, Punsola-Reniu is unquestionably one of Montserrat's finest routes. Perfectly equipped for free climbing (with the option of upgrading to A0), there's absolutely nothing to throw away on the 7 pitches. The climbing is progressive, the rock excellent overall and the atmosphere simply brilliant. The difficulty is concentrated on pitches 5 and 6, and pitch 7 has a more than airy start in 6a, with over 200m of gas underfoot! In short, the Punsola-Reniu is a must-do route, but requires experience to avoid spending too much time on it. You can also try it with a V+/6a level, passing the difficult pitches in A0, and even then, you'll leave a lot of energy behind. Great big atmosphere!

Technical summary

Type ✦ Large equipped track
Location ✦ Montserrat Nord
Region ✦ Catalunya
Country ✦ Spain
Orientation ✦ Nord
Lengths ✦ 7
Vertical drop ✦ 240m
Difficulty max ✦ 6c+ or 6a/A0
Rock ✦ Conglomerate
Interest ✦ ★★★

Access to the place

From Barcelona, take the A2 towards Leida and exit at Bruc (at the Grand Hotel, last exit before the tunnel). Immediately afterwards, turn right towards Manresa and Montserrat. After a series of hairpin bends, you arrive at Coll de Can Maçana. Pass on the north side and turn right along the north face towards the monastery. Park in the Santa Cecilia parking lot.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 45'

Catch the GR 172, which passes just above the parking lot, and follow it due east. After about 30′, you pass under the foot of the Cavall and find a little wild path that leads to the foot of the route. (Alternatively, climb the Cavall canal a little further on and cross over to the start). You then have to climb the first hump at the bottom of the Cavall ramp in a III/IV grade to reach the start of the 1st pitch (chain belay next to a tree).

Course

The Punsola-Reniu route, facing north-east, is 240m in 7 pitches (30m-50m-30m-35m-20m-30m-20m-25m). Equipment is generous: 17 quickdraws and a ladder if necessary. The sun is shining brightly in summer all morning, so we may have to start later. Level 6a required to pass.

Length 1 (50m, IV+)

A gentle start. Not many nails, of course, but it's easy. We get into the mood.
Length 1 (30m, IV+)

Slightly more vertical than L1, we gain altitude. Good holds for a pleasant climb.
Longueur 3 (35m, V)

The difficulty level rises a notch. The passage through the crack is more complicated and above all, there's a small overhang that can be surmounted without difficulty, but with a more athletic stride. The R3 belay is just above the plate and below the final section of the Cavall.
Length 4 (20m, V+)

A rather tricky pitch that could almost be worth a 6a at the start. The rock at this point is more slippery and the footholds less firm. 2 or 3 fine steps at the start of the pitch. Very generous equipment to reach the R4 belay, which signals the end of the warm-up and the start of the serious stuff!
Length 5 (30m, 6b+ or V/A0)

A very beautiful and difficult 6b+ pitch. After about 10m of sustained V+ approach, we attack a large, very sustained passage (almost up to the belay), starting with a good step to take out in placement. Even though there are a few (relative!) rest areas along the way, the arms are quickly stretched. There's a slight bend to the left to finish on a plate to the relay. The equipment (1 stitch every metre) means you can pull your quickdraws through without any problem (A0).
Length 6 (20m, 6c or V/A0)

This 6th pitch is even more difficult than the previous one, but fortunately shorter (perhaps less than 20m). It doesn't look like much, but after a few not-too-tough meters of V+/6a, we have to climb almost 10m of fine 6c, which is very difficult to read on sight. We pay cash for what we've left below, but by zigzagging a little to the left and then to the right, there's plenty to get out. Here too, the equipment allows you to switch to A0 without any problems. The R6 belay is located some twenty meters below the summit.
Length 7 (25m, 6a or V/A0)

We hadn't realized it from the concentration on the last 2 pitches, but there's gas everywhere! The start of L7 is very, very airy, with a change of face (passage on the west side) and a 6a pitch to top it all off. Then it's back up to the summit with some very good holds but fewer nails... A glance below to see the cars 200 or 300m below, which seem miniaturized! Relay R7 is located just below the summit. End of the Punsola-Reniu.

Back

Climb to the summit, where you'll find abseiling equipment a little further down on the south side. A 1st abseil of around 20m then a 2d of 50m to the foot of the Cavall's normal route. From here, grab the descent of the Cavall's equipped canal, which starts just to the left (when you have the Cavall at your back). After the exhausting series of knotted ropes, you're back on the GR, which you just have to follow due west in the opposite direction as far as Santa Cecilia.

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