The peaks and crest lines in the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley offer climbing and mountaineering enthusiasts plenty of possibilities to carry out these sports the whole year round. There are several areas in the protected space where climbers and mountaineers can find routes with various degrees of difficulty, from practically the lowest level, ideal for learning, to extreme levels in which the characteristics of the rock and the weather conditions enable sports climbing and ascents to be practised for which users should have knowledge about the techniques and equipment necessary for high mountain situations.
CLIMBING ZONES AND VIA FERRATAS
At the final bend on the Engolasters road, take the GR11 heading south-east towards Coll Jovell; after a walk of about 15 minutes you come to the climbing zone: small granite walls, of 6 to 18 metres long, with a total of forty-one open routes, with difficulty levels ranging from 4 to 8. The area, at an altitude of 1,620 m and facing north-west, is divided into five sectors: Figa, Festa, Del Sostre, Frankfurt and Can Faltegan. The first four are at the bottom of the Coll Jovell Path, however to get to the Can Faltegan sector, just under Frankfurt, you need to take the path that goes down towards Escaldes-Engordany.
From the same departure points used to get to the Coll Jovell Bolder, where there is the Circuit de les Fonts parking area, follow the path that goes inside, heading east. After some 15 minutes and after a final stretch with a slight slope, you come to the bottom of the Agulles d’Engolasters, at an altitude of 1,740 m. There are 17 routes facing north-east, equipped with M10 parabolts thanks to the Andorran Mountaineering Federation (FAM). The levels of difficulty range from 4 to 6b+ and the lengths vary between 15 and 30 metres
The Ríbuls peak (2,827) is one of the peaks that close the Els Pessons cirque. The most usual approach is from the car park of Grau Roig ski resort: climb up to L’Estany Primer and after going round the bank leave the path, which continues towards the right, and carry on through the middle of the valley following the stream. After approximately an hour and a half on foot, you will come to the bottom of the wall. The climb mainly takes place in fissure and dihedral, and it is recommendable to take cold weather equipment, even in the summer, due to the height and the fact that the routes are very exposed. Once you get to the top, the descent is done by following the crest line heading east towards the col, and from there you go down a sharp drop following the path northwards to the bottom of the wall.
A 5 and 5+ grade route with a 6 grade move that climbs through the large slab there is in the middle of the eastern slope. It is equipped with bolts and self-tapping bolts. You need to take ten express slings, material for equalised anchor systems and a set of chocks. Three or four lengths, the first two of 40 metres and the other two of 50 metres, and from the last equalised anchor system you need to set up an abseil of some 15 metres to go down the spur and reach the summit.
The route climbs some 20 metres of the “Amanecer” route in the middle of the pillar that sticks out of the large dihedral that cuts through the wall and the smaller dihedral on the left, next to the slab. Above the pillar, you must overcome an overhang before coming to an easier stretch that links with the third equalised anchor system of the “Amanecer” route and follows this track to the summit. The difficulty of the route is 5+, with A2 moves. You should be equipped with bolts and cord slings. You need to take ten express slings, material for equalised anchor systems, a set of chocks and some bolts.
The route starts at the lowest point of the spur and after the fifth length follows the classic route. The first four lengths are between 15 and 25 metres, with a difficulty of 4, 5 and 5+, apart from the first stretch, which is grade 3 difficulty. It is equipped with nails and you need to take ten express slings, material for equalised anchor systems, a set of chocks and a set of spring-loaded camming devices.
A grade 3 and 4 climb, with some stretches of grade 5, that starts off at the channel there is to the right of the spur. The channel is often damp and you can find snow at the foot of the wall until the beginning of summer. The route offers five lengths of between 30 and 40 metres and is equipped with bolts. You need to take eight express slings, material for equalised anchor systems and a set of chocks. At the end of the route, you need to set up an abseil of some 15 metres to go down the spur and follow the crest as far as the summit.
This is a granite set of rocks, facing west and at an altitude of 1,400 metres, in which 33 routes have been opened, equipped with M10 parabolts with lengths ranging from 6 to 25 metres allowing people to practice different kinds of climbing. There are routes of diverse grades: 5, 6 and 7. The climbing zone includes three sectors: El Rebedor, Fa Temps and Caire.
- Roc d’Esquers
A south-west facing via ferrata, with an easy to medium level. To get there, you need to come off Les Molleres path and about 50 metres on take the path to the right and follow it for some ten minutes to the foot of the via. The difference in height is 250 metres up to 1,780 at the summit. The climate can take between one and three-quarter hours and two hours; the descent on foot, on the other hand, is done in an hour. There is a resting area about three quarters of the way up the climb and you need to cross a Tibetan bridge to reach the summit.
This is a corridor of snow and ice on the northern wall of Els Pessons peak. The time is about two hours – it is a good idea to go with skis or snowshoes – from the car park in Grau Roig. The difference in height of the via is 200 metres, with a constant inclination of between 50 and 55° but with some parts of 60° in mixed ice and rock. The last 20 metres have an inclination of 80% as far as the cornice. The material required includes ice axes and technical crampons, rope, helmet, some ice screws, a couple of anchors and a set of chocks. The climb takes between two and three hours and the descent can be made down the Isards channel, between the peaks of Els Pessons and Ríbuls, although you can also go down the Collada de Pessons.
Via located between the Oriol Majó corridor and the Isards channel, with a relatively easy climb until the final stretch, where a huge cornice usually closes off the exit. In this case, you should continue along the spur of snow to the left, with a steep inclination. The rest of the via has a sustained slope of between 40 and 45°. It is not at all recommended to try the climb after heavy snow or when it is very hot, due to the high risk of avalanches. The total difference in height is 200 metres and the time of the via can vary between one and two hours, depending on the state of the snow. Essential equipment consists of ice axes and technical crampons, rope, helmet, ice screws and a couple of anchors.
The corridor, with a difference in height of 250 metres, is boxed in between two rocky spurs, with a slope that does not exceed 40°, until the final spectacular stretch, where the inclination may be more than 50°. The climbing time varies between one and two hours, depending on the state of the snow. It can be reached from L’Estany Primer along the path that goes off to the left heading south, after an approach of an hour and a half. The descent follows the normal route of the Coll de Montmalús. Ice axes, crampons, helmet, rope and some snow anchors make up the recommended material.
A narrow, boxed in via, to the right of the north-west corridor, with a constant inclination of some 55°. Depending on the time of the year, you may come across some mixed stretches and some short ridges that are more difficult than the rest of the via. The last stretch is common to the north-west corridor, meaning it converges in a small col near the crest line. It takes between an hour and a half and two hours to overcome the 160-metre difference in height of the via. The material required consists of ice axes and technical crampons, rope, helmet, some ice screws, a couple of anchors, two or three rock pitons and a set of chocks.
The Pic de Cubil and the Pic Baix del Cubil close Els Pessons cirque on the northern side. You come to the path that heads off towards the right from L’Estany Primer, after an approach of an hour and a half. The south-west corridor is a 300-metre slope of snow, with an inclination that varies in stretches between 40 and 50° and that does not have any notable difficulty, apart from the cornices that are formed at the end of the via. The climb can take between an hour and an hour and a half, and we recommend taking ice axes, crampons, helmet, rope and a couple of anchors. To descend, you need to find the col there is between the summit and the Pic d’Ensagents, on the left, and continue along a sharp slope, of some 200 metres, on the Pessons side.
A long approach route – some three hours from the road, although this can be considerably reduced if you take the chair lift from El Cubil. The climb is also long: you need to cover a difference in height of 400 metres, meaning that you need another two hours, more or less, depending on the condition of the snow. Nevertheless, the climb does not offer great difficulties. It is a slope of snow with an average difference in height of some 40° and some ridges that are slightly more inclined, that climbs directly from the bottom of the peak to the crest line. The most recommendable descent route is the north-west ridge, which is long but without any difficulty. You can also go down the Diagonal corridor, just to the right of the north corridor, with an inclination of some 35°.
From the Castelar huts, to the Cortals d’Encamp, follow the signposted path to the Refugi dels Agols; from here on you need to walk another half an hour to reach the foot of the channel. In all, the approach to the via is between two and two and a half hours, depending on the condition of the snow. The via, with a difference in height of 250 metres, starts with a ramp of some 100 metres with an inclination of some 50°, at the end of which the first equaliser anchor system is set up. Straightaway, you will have to overcome a 3 move on rock to get to the frozen corridor, with a slope of 45°, that leads to a second equaliser anchor system, 30 minutes higher up. To get to the third equaliser anchor system, at the foot of a small wall, you need to climb a ramp of some 80 metres with a 65% slope. From here, there are two options: the normal via, which continues towards the right with some 4 moves and 65° ramps, or follow the Spagetti Carbonara variant, which is more direct and more difficult, that climbs up a narrow 70° channel with 4+ moves. The descent follows the crest line heading north-west, and takes you back to the path that comes from Coll Jovell and returns to the Refuge. The climb can take between two and three hours and you should take ice axes, crampons, helmet, rope, splitters and spring-loaded camming devices.
From the Refugi de les Agols, head off towards the south-west till reaching the foot of the crest line that joins the Tosa del Braibal with the Cap de les Agols. Right in the middle of this crest line the spur of the Rosly point stands out, it has a difference in height of 200 metres and a very difficult interior ascent. The first length, 40 metres, starts with difficulties of 3+ and 4, and follows the line of the spur and a slab to continue along an oblique fissure with a 5 move. You should progress towards the left to later come back to the line of the spur along a system of horizontal fissures. A vertical fissure with moves of 5 and 5+ leads to a ridge where the first equaliser anchor system is set up. It is followed by three lengths of 40 metres which are not very complicated, to the foot of two dihedrals. You should climb up along the left and overcome a 5-grade lie-back to below an overhang that you can avoid by flanking over to the left. The equalised anchor system is set up at the head of the overhang to come out immediately on the right and to come to the last large block of the spur. You climb up a slab with a blind fissure to another horizontal one which you should follow for some 2 metres towards the left to overcome the last of the difficulties and easily climb up to the summit. The descent is made from the east, to a col where a wide, easy channel starts, with a large characteristic block in the middle, which goes down to the Vall de les Agols. The climb can take some two hours and you should take five express slings, five more varied ones and a set of chocks.
From the Pont de Sassanat follow the GR7 to Entremesaigües, where you should turn right to start the climb to the Refugi de Perafita and L’Estany de la Nou. When you come to the pond, follow the GPR signs to the Refugi de Claror, and from there, go up the scree that goes down from the Pic Negre to get to the col. Then you only need to follow the wide crest line to the summit. The descent follows the same route.
Approximate time: 8 hours (you can take two days, spending a night in the Refugi de Claror)
Climb: 1,350 metres
Go upstream the River Madriu to the Refugi del Riu dels Orris, where you cross the river and carry on heading south, going up slopes of grass and marshes to the upper area of the screes. A stony channel with a steep slope leads to the Port de Setut, from where you need to turn towards the east, following the line of the rocky crest (easy) to the Pic de Setut. The climb continues towards the south-east and towards the east soon after, along the almost flat ridge and the grassy ramp that leads to the summit. For the descent, take the easy slopes, to the north-east, that lead to the Collada de la Portelleta, and from there go down a very steep stone ramp until the foot of the Portelleta Cirque, then carry on heading north to the River Madriu.
Approximate time: 2 hours (from Setut to the summit)
Climb: 600 metres
From the Refugi de l’Illa, take the path that heads off south-east towards the Port de Vallcivera. Cross the port and continue diagonally towards the right, heading towards the north-west slope of the Muga to the foot of the bridge that stands out on the left. The first stretch, which is quite aerial, soon gains height between towers and breccia, although it is not very difficult. From here on, the ridge spreads gradually up to the summit. The descent is done along the west ridge to the Coll de la Muga and takes the path to the Coll de Vallcivera and the refuge.
Approximate time: 2 hours (from the refuge)
Climb: 400 metres
Climb up the Carretera dels Cortals d’Encamp (CS220) to the Carretera de les Pardines (km 3.5). You will come to some water tanks and you should take the path on their left, marked with yellow points, until you come to Les Agols path. Follow the path to the Refugi de Les Agols. When you get to the refuge, follow the indications for the Pic de les Agols, going along the crest of the L’Estany Blau, to the Estanys Forcats from where you can make out the refuge and the Estany de l’Illa.
Approximate time: 5 hours
Climb: 1,100 metres
On the Carretera dels Cortals d’Encamp (CS-220), at the climbing wall, take the path towards the river, crossing a hanging bridge. Follow the track until you come to a wooden signpost which indicates the Bosc del Campeà path. Follow the yellow points until you come to Prat de Baix and continue as indicated by a wooden signpost pointing left, Collada d’Entinyola and come to the Estanys d’Ensagents. From here, climb the Pic del Griu, taking the path on the left. Go down following the crest line until you come to the Collades Baixes d’Emportona, and you will finally come to the Pic d’Ensagents. If you wish, you can carry along the crest line to the Collada dels Pessons.
Approximate time: 4 hours
Climb: 700 metres