Catalonia Climbing

Allison in Riglos
It really is THAT good in Catalonia.

But you probably already imagined as much, so here is some info that you may not have known.

Catalonia/Catalunya is a semi-autonomous region of NE Spain where business signs and streets signs feature their own spelling of common words, so don't assume you will understand everything just because you understand Spanish.

Barcelona is beautiful and VERY walkable, with a compact feel to the town, and numerous fun sights to keep your pedestrian days entertaining. On Sunday many of the museums and attractions are free but long lines develop - plan accordingly.
Cooking class in Barcelona

One of the many famous buildings designed by Gaudi - Casa Batlo

The crew gearing up in Riglos.
Numerous crags feature world-class lineups of walls and climbs. We hardly scratched the surface. We based out of the rental house of Greg Collum, hardman of alpine FAs around the world, and former local of Index, WA. His house is in the picturesque village of Cornudella de Montstant, a short drive from Siurana, Montsant, Arboli, Oliana, and Margalef. This area is best climbed from fall to spring, with the summer generally being too hot. One of my favorite routes in Siurana was called "Bistec de Biceps" - a .12c that was featured in the 1980s climbing movie "Masters of Stone IV."Overall Siurana is a bit like the Smith Rock of Spain, and old-school area with a well-deserved reputation for solid grades and real climbing.

Stolen pic of perhaps my favorite route of
the trip, Montsantrrat, a long .12c I onsighted at
the stellar Roca de La Misa Sector, Montsant.
After climbing and travelling in this area, our trip concluded with a 2-day visit to the "mallets" that comprise the famous area of Riglos. Riglos was charming and the routes were great as long as we were not climbing below other parties trundling rocks on us. Scott Bennett and I climbed the world's most enjoyable sport route, a famous line called "Fiesta de los Biceps, which was even more of a fiesta because it was pouring rain for much of the climb, yet only about the last 20 feet of the 800' climb are not overhanging and perma-dry. I lead the first two pitches (and the crux .11d thin move) and Scott lead the last two. We were originally planning on rappeling the route, but it is SO STEEPLY OVERHANGING that we opted for the rock-shoe walk off.

We ended our trip with a few days along the Atlantic coast/ French border in Basque country, where the new language, street signage, cuisine, and people all contributed to a feeling of having gone to a different country entirely. We didn't climb there, but good cragging and alpine adventures are rumored to exist, if you can make sense of the road signs and find the peaks and crags.

You can see two climbers following a chalk line on the large wall on the right,
that is Scott and I on Fiesta de los Biceps.
                               Dani Andrada's "Lleida Climbs" - areas around Tremp, Lleida, Terradets

  • Stay - In the Siurana area - free camping atop the cliffs in Siurana, or email Greg Collum about his rental house if you have a large group. There is also a climber hostel in Siurana. In Riglos, DEFINITELY stay with the couple who own the local restaurant/bar/climber-viewing hangout area called El Puro. The owner's name is Jose Ramon, his wife (forgot her name...) is from the Dominican Republic, and for 20EU you get a nice room, shower, and amazing home-cooked breakfast.
  • Getting there - Fly in and out of Barcelona and rent a car, or better yet, fly in and out of the the town of Reus, which is 40 mins SW of Barcelona. Many of the cheap Euro airlines' flights to/from Barcelona (RyanAir, for example) actually use the Reus airport, which is closer to the climbing and doesn't involve big-city headaches.

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