Monday, 7 March 2016

Globeros en Alaska 7a>6b 250m. Mont-rebei

Sometimes sport climbing really gets to me. Falling over and over on the same route wears me down. Then it's time to do some climbing where falling is either not an option or at least not a splendid idea.

Pared de Catalonia from the Parking.
Recently I've spent some time failing very badly on a route in Bruixes that in my imagination should be well within my abilities, and getting a bit down-hearted in the process (ridiculous, I know!) My friend Javier Aranda / INUIT The mountain experience suggested Globeros en Alaska (Balloonist in Alaska) in Montrebei north of Lleida as a remedy.

Globeros en Alaska was put up by Alberto Salvado and friends 8-9 years ago. Alberto Salvado is one of the most fanatic new routers in Catalonia, with many new multi-pitch routes all over the region.

Montrebei consist of two large walls on each side of the river: Pared de Catalonia on the east bank of the river Noguera, and Pared de Aragon on the west. The walls are between 200-500 m tall mostly of limestone with some sand-stone bands. Pictured above is the upper east side of Pared de Catalonia

Notes on the pitches
From the parking lot (possible camping, but no running water) an easy 10 min hike lead to the first pitch of the route. Some face climbing past two bolts lead to a dihedral with a loose pillar in the middle: stem and place no gear behind the pillar (5+). There's a bolt halfway up.

Pitch 1. 6b. Photo Javier Aranda
The second pitch was mine, a nice pitch on good solid limestone. I did a fairly hard pull above a piton (6c?) but there was apparently easier climbing out right. Belay in a bolt and a joke piton.
Start of pitch 2. Photo Javier Aranda
 The third pitch started with some nice slab climbing. That's all I can remember. It was Javi's pitch anyway.
Pitch 3. Photo Javi. The heavy-handed fake blur is all me though
The forth pitch is the major pitch of the route, which Javi very generously handed to me. Mostly fixed gear (bolts and pitons—most of the pitons were in good condition) and one or two cams. A rising rightwards traverse lead to a small crux at an overlap, where some very good hearted climber had extended a bolt with a piece of fixed rope. Again, I had to do a tricky pull (7a+), and this time I managed to fool Javi into doing it with the same sequence (climbing with a backpack). Javi had to rest a bit and promptly found a better sequence to the left, which probably makes the climbing easier (7a). A steep sustained crack with lots of technical footwork followed, up to a bolted belay.

Me on pitch 4. About to do something daft as per usual. Photo: Javier

Me on the top of pitch 4.
 Pitch 5 started up a diagonal crack on some gear that I think is fairly solid. Then there's a fairly scary runout to a bolt, especially if you're short and have to clip in the middle of the crux as my poor guide for the day... (6b+ or so). Easier but quite runout climbing follows. There were two fixed threads that should be replaced. Bring some extra 6 mm cord if the threads are still not replaced.

At the top of the pitch there was some quite steep and loose traversing to get to the belay. Nothing too  bad, but be careful!

Javier Aranda past the crux of pitch 5.

Me following the 5th pitch. Not too inspiring rock on this pitch. Photo: Javier
Pitch 6 was the second best pitch of the route and again Javi gave it to me. It started with some quite cool face climbing past two bolts to a short bit of expo climbing (6b, I fiddled in some mediocre gear) on very solid rock. The top of the pitch had a quite cool boulder problem that is possible harder than the original grade of the route suggest (6c+ according to the openers).

Javi follows pitch 6
The last pitch is quite long (50 m) and starts up steep terrain to a roof with loose rock (one bolt), after that its quite enjoyable slabby lime stone climbing to the top of the wall.
Javi starting the last pitch

Javi on top. Pared de Aragon in the background.

Getting off the climb just before the storm moves in, like a boss! Photo: Javier

Topo, stolen from the internet.

We had half a set of wires (up to DMM #4 or 5 I think) and one set of camalots from blue (#0.3) to blue (#3). I don't think we placed the large blue. 15 draws should definitely be enough. Most routes in Montrebei has less fixed gear than this route, so would need a normal mountain rack and possibly a 3-4 pitons for the more heady routes.

Getting there
Montrebei is located north of Lleida, close to Tremp and the well known climbing area Terradets. I've dropped a needle on the parking for Pared de Catalonia on 27crags. More info can be found on Camp to Camp (french) or UK Climbing (english).

There's an old guidebook for the area: Montsec Oueste by L.Alfonso, X.Buxó (1998). Luichy is working on a new guidebook and for now, the best option is to look on his website and to search topos (croquis) on the Spanish blogosphere.

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