Rock Climbing Guide: The Pyrenees, Spain
Pyrenees National Park
The PyreneesMountains form the boarder between France and Spain; they separate the Iberian peninsular from the rest of continental Europe. They extend for 430 km from the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea.
They are typically divided into three sections The Atlantic or Western section, the Central and the Eastern section. The central section is home to most of the major peaks including Aneto (3,404m) and Poset’s peak (3,375m). The Western section gradually increases in height from west to east, and the western Pyrenees are all of a fairly uniform height, until the sudden decrease in elevation near the med.
The Rocks in the area are in the region of 100 – 150 million years old and it consists of many sedimentary rocks in the west and granites and interlaced with limestone across much of the rest, which due to its hardy nature has limited the amount of erosion which takes place here.
The climate in the Pyrenees varies it can be quite wet with a lot of rain falling in the West, from the moisture coming in off the Atlantic. As we move East into the central region the temperature plummets and many of the peaks have snow all year round, including a couple of glaciers at the highest points. As we move into the East it becomes a lot drier and more arid and this is where the majority of the climbing routes are. So if you go climbing in the Pyrenees be sure to take you Sun block!
Images of the Pyrenees
Climbing in the Area
Most of the crags offer single pitch bolted sports routes. However there are also many impressive crags that provide multi-pitch climbing, such as Terradets which has crags up to 512m high, Riglos with faces up to 303m high and Cavallers with crags up to 121m high. So as you can see there are routes to suite all levels of endurance.
It is important to remember that while some of these multi-pitch routes are bolted, most are only minimally equipped, so you will need some traditional climbing gear such as nuts and cams quickdraws etc.
The crags are limestone with the exception of Riglos crag, which is conglomerate rock and Targasonne crag, which offers granite bouldering.
Mostly of the single pitch routes can be described as steep endurance climbing especially in Rodellar, where it is necessary to be easily climbing F6c+ and above to get the most out of the crag. However not all of the faces and routes are steep and there are enough crags that have a good range of grades, such as Cavallers and Montgrony, to enjoy many weeks of climbing!
The granite bouldering area at Targasonne, it is just across the border in France and has an altitude of over 1,600m. These boulders offer a good range of routes across all grades and are generally between 3 and 4m tall, a great strength training area
Boldering At Pont de Camps
Multi Pitch climbing in the Pyrenees
There is some multi pitch climbing to be had in the pyrenees and the best of that is at La Dent d'Orlu which you may have guesses is in the France and the north of the mountains. It is a superb piece of Granite and has many routes from 100-1000m or 3 - 25 pitches. It is about an hours walk but this face has something to offer everyone, with the majority of routes being between 4+ - 6a+ this really is a great multi pitch training crag. Most of the routes here are sport but some are trad.
One of the best routes is Fleur de Rhodo this is located on the east face is a 350m, 15 pitch climb which can be completed in a day. As always though it is a granite slab so be ready for some surpising moves.
Great Climbing Guides to the Pyrenees
Some of my favourite area’s are listed however there are more check out some of the great guide books fore more on climbing in the area
The Northwest area of Catalunya boasts over 1000 single-pitch routes and 500 multi-pitch routes in some of the most beautiful countryside in the World. The routes span all abilities from as low as F4 or HVD to as high as F9a or E10/E11 level.
My favourite area in this region has to be The Terradets gorge it has towering 500 metre faces which provide the inspiration and the trepidation of the area, yet it suppies some of the best routes in Europe for climbers of all levels. The area is Characterized by thin horizontal breaks and a slightly off vertical inclination it favours thoughtful and balanced climbing, it always demands impecable footwork, strong fingers and a good head for hights.
The main wall, the Paret de les Bagasses, has over 50 equipped and semi-equipped routes with lengths ranging from 100 - 500 m and encompassing all the grades from 5 to 7a+. The adventurous and energetic climbers among you are recommended to take on the 21 pitches of the CADE, now the symbolic route up the face for the area, which involves easy climbing but an epic journey. People who like less well used routes the Peladet, opposite the main face, provides fantastic routes, both free and aided, over fantastic rock and a great environment, this area is much quieter and you will rarely have to wait to use a route even at peak season
Roca Regina is a face of equal size and grandeur to Bagasses and only a short distance away, it is the perfect place for those into big wall and aid climbing offering over 20 routes of approximately 500 metres ranging in difficulty from 6a/A1 to A5. This is perfect for those training to go and face the big walls of Yosemite and it should not be taken lightly.
Those who would rather concentrate on sports climbing there are other many other alternatives. Single pitch sports climbing lovers will want to head for Els Isards, a crenulated limestoneface, which has about 25 very difficult and technical routes of the highest quality from 6a up to 8b+.
Finally the area of Les Bruixes a sector the shape of an overhanging bowl which offers about forty 30 metre routes up perfect tufas. This area is extremely technically challenging and demands a lot of forearm strength, this area is used extensively by world class climbers honing their skills.
If I have whet your appetite for climbing in the Pyrenees then be sure to check out some of the great guide books available. This really is a beautiful part of the world and one I highly recommend visiting.
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