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GEDE al Agulla Gran del Pas del Princep, Montserrat

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Located in the Frares Encantats area, in the western part of Montserrat, Agulla Gran del Pas del Princeps is a fairly imposing needle, and its south face offers some great routes, including this historic one opened in 1956 by the pioneers of Catalan climbing. 5 short pitches to climb the 135m, following the lines of old rusty nails that mark the 1st ascents. While L1, L4 and L5 are interesting for free climbing (6a/6b), L2 and L3 are mostly spent pulling on the nails (A0), which isn't our favorite kind of climbing (far too hard free, especially L2). Still, the trip is well worth the detour, for the atmosphere, the views from the Agulles and, to complete the day, a return trip via the Canal del Melindro is possible to enjoy splendid views of the north face of Montserrat on the way back.

GEDE

Technical summary

Type ✦ Large equipped route

Location ✦ Montserrat, South Face

Region ✦ Catalunya

Country ✦ Spain

Lengths ✦ 5

Vertical drop ✦ 135m

Difficulty max ✦ V+/A1e

Orientation ✦ South

Interest ✦ ★

Access to the place

From Barcelona, take the A2 towards Leida and exit after Collbato and El Bruc, just before the Hotel del Bruc (exit no. 570). Turn right just after an abandoned petrol station, direction Manresa and Monsterrat. After a few hairpin bends, you come to the Can Maçana pass at the western end of the massif, where you can park.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h15

Take the GR 172 north towards the monastery and climb to the Col de Guirlo. Here fork right to follow the path to the San Barbé refuge. You then pass the wall of the west face of Les Agulles via La Portella before descending and then ascending to reach the refuge.


Continue past the refuge on the main path, past the wide canal, then continue on the same yellow-and-white-marked path up to Coll de Port. As you pass a small pass, you'll see the aiguille du pas del Princep on your left. Go up a few metres to find the base and the start, under a small pedestal attached to the wall (under the trees).

Course

Located in the Frares Encantats area, the route is south-facing and 135m long in 5 pitches (35m, 25m, 20m, 20m, 35m). It was opened in 1956, and the abundant equipment in place is still of the period (nails and bolts are rusty, but still in fairly good condition). A few recent bolts complete it, but the belays are not equipped for abseiling (exit via an abseil on the opposite side). Bring at least 16 quickdraws for the A0 pitches and an ester for the start of the L2. The compulsory free climbing level is V+.


Length 1 (35m, 6a or V+/A0)

Climb the boulder and start on the inclined slab. The 1st point is high before crossing and passing the 6a pitch on a small bulge (pass to the right on 2 small pebbles). The rest of the route is fine, continuing slightly diagonally to the right to reach the ledge carved into the wall where relay R1 is located.


Length 2 (25m, A1e or 7a/b?)

Exit to the left of the ledge for a boiling-hot 1st step, even with active climbing (pedal more than useful). The rest of the climb is done in active mode, pulling on the quickdraws, difficult to "free climb" but very (too) hard for us!) The R2 belay is at the level of a horizontal crack (not very comfortable).


Length 3 (20m, A0 or 6a+/6b?)

One step in V+ to reach the 1st nail, then follow the vertical crack, which offers almost no holds. We can switch to A0, or free climbing, perhaps 6b or more. The R3 belay on a flat area under a bulge of large agglomerated stones.


Length 4 (20m, 6b/6b+ or V+/A0)

This length, the most pleasant of the route, can be done free (otherwise A0). Pass the small overhang with large stones and then follow to the right on a thin, very vertical slab. Relay R4 back to the left.


Length 5 (35m, 6a/6a+ or V+/A0)

Climb straight up to a thin wall where you have to reach a large hole in the right hand side, which then allows you to go over with nice holds and exit at the top. Relay R5 on a single point (otherwise 2 points on the north side).

Back

From the summit, roped up, descend to the west on a small ledge that skirts the rock and gives access to the equipped belay (a little rusty...). Do a nice 50m abseil between the 2 needles before quickly joining the main path up to Coll de Port on a steep path. To return to can Maçana, descend to the Sant Barbé refuge, La Portella and then the parking lot (or the attractive Melindro option ).

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