Massanella circuit from Es Noguer via Comellar des Prat, Massanella summit, Coll de Sa Linea and the Canaleta de Massanella. The walk combines elements of various of June Parker’s walks and includes some of the best parts of Massanella while avoiding the charges at Coma Freda. It could also be done from the entrance to the Almallutx finca though this would involve extra ascent and descent, steeply at the end of a long and tiring day.
Drive to K34 on the C710.
Leave the car park at Es Noguer and follow the new canaleta eastwards for some 35 minutes.
Where a path ascends from the left and a bridge crosses the canaleta cross the bridge and follow the path ascending into woodlands. Soon the col is reached at 825 metres and the path begins to descend. After a few minutes a view appears through trees up the valley (Comellar des Prat) to the Col des Prat with Massanella to the right.
The way goes up the right (as seen) of the Comellar with decision points shortly after exiting the trees and shortly before reaching the Col des Prat.
Continue down to a junction with a signpost and follow the left path down towards the Font des Prat. The Font lies a little up the Comellar from the point where the path crosses the bottom of the valley, and can be found by following the pipework upstream. The pipe carries water from the Font to a public drinking fountain in Mancor de Vall and will be seen again later in the walk as it uses the Canaleta de Massanella.
Crossing the valley bottom the path ascends a few metres and turns left up the right hand flank of the valley, usually clear but a little vague in places. 10 minutes after leaving the trees you reach a boulder with vague red paint-marks including the letter M, and a line of small cairns heading up to the skyline on the right.
This is the first decision point, for the cairns lead to a short scramble to gain the main ridge between Massanella and Puig de ses Bassetes. The scramble is neither exposed nor difficult. At the right of the short pitch is a groove. This can be ascended direct to find an excellent hold for the right hand in order to reach the top, or after the first move cross left on a ledge to climb up on holds too numerous to mention.
The alternative route leads to two further possibilities. About 150m before reaching the Col des Prat (cairn) a vague path leads back rightwards, traversing below the north face of the summit to reach an easy platform about 70m above the scramble mentioned earlier. This is the easiest route and avoids any scrambling but might be difficult to follow in cloud.
The last option is to carry on up to the col and ascend the north face via a subtle and exhilarating scramble. June’s guide does not describe the route in sufficient detail to make it discernible from below and it was only on my third visit that I actually went up to the crag and found the route.
Follow the wall up to the foot of the crag. To the left of the wall is an obvious scoop. Walk up this, exiting top right and walk to the right for a few metres. A scramble up an obvious chimney gives access to the terrace above. Follow the terrace rightwards behind a buttress to come out above the upper reaches of the Comellar des Prat.
A narrowing rake rises rightwards, becoming ever more exposed. At one point the rake is just a couple of good footholds (the handholds are also excellent) and between your feet you have about 30 metres of air. Fortunately it then widens, but hasn’t finished with you yet. Ahead is a large boulder, blocking the way. There are some finger-pockets here and the key to the move is to go towards the drop, moving up on the right foot on an obvious flat section of rock, balancing with the hands. This is counter-intuitive as the drop here is a good 40 metres. Once this section has been overcome, easy ground leads to the exit on the ridge, about 70 metres to the right of the summit (as seen from the north.
On my first ascent I fell in with a party from the Fell and Rock Climbing Club who were holding a meet on Mallorca led by June Parker, though she was not with this group. They had collected a gemütlich German with little English. They took his trekking poles off him for the ascent of the chimney and when he came out onto the rake he was not so much gemütlich as gibbering. Some of the F & R party were using up their last reserves of confidence too. Faced with the exposed step on the rake he panicked and fled upwards, accompanied by a few of the Fell and Rockers in only slightly lesser states of apprehension. The German was last seen taking in the view from the summit with his camcorder while recounting his adventure with the crazy English. I tell the tale to highlight the fact that this is a serious undertaking.
If either the short scramble or the easy platform has been taken there is a further choice, the ridge or a traverse of the southern slopes to join the path coming up from the Coll de sa Linea via the Font de S’Avenc. The ascent of the ridge involves a little easy scrambling but is nowhere technical, horribly exposed or unescapable. The traverse takes longer and involves a little route-finding. A line of cairns and red paint marks leads round the southern flank of the mountain, pretty well following the 1180 metre contour before climbing a little to join the Font de S’Avenc path about 100m below the summit.
The fastest of the three ways is the scramble from the Col des Prat and the slowest the easy platform and the south traverse. Allow 3½ hours from Es Noguer to Massanella summit (4 if taking the easy platform and southern traverse).
From the summit descend southwards to the Font de S’Avenc.
The font is worth a visit, located in a cave down three flights of stone steps. The water is good and wholesome, though few would make the journey just for this in the absence of apparitions of the Virgin and/or miracles. A good path traverses eastwards then zig-zags down, entering woodland to reach the Coll de Sa Linea at 820 metres.
Here turn right and descend in a westerly direction through woods on a good forest track, ignoring lesser tracks coming in and going off to the left or right. The delight of this easy descent is perhaps lessened by the knowledge that every metre lost has to be regained in the ascent back to the 825m col above the Font des Prat. After some 45 minutes the Casa Forestal is reached at 450 metres. This is a substantial building with a thatched sheltered picnic area at its front and other picnic areas nearby.
Turn right and follow the track between the main building and the thatched picnic area to its end after about 10 minutes. Here an ancient path, sometimes paved, sometimes not, ascends in zig-zags to 650 metres before going through a gate and turning leftwards through the woods. A wall is seen coming in from the left. It is the Canaleta de Massanella. Allow 35 minutes to reach here from the Casa Forestal.
Turn right along the canaleta and follow it up and round the slopes of the mountain. As height is gained views improve, although a westering sun may on occasions dazzle. To the south is the southern plain of the island. Ahead and across the valley lies the Tossals Verts massif. The canaleta passes below a rock arch. There are steps down to below the canaleta; the steps back up are above a considerable drop. In places the canaleta goes round large butresses and a head for heights is helpful. About 10 minutes after the rock arch the canaleta crosses an aqueduct at a point where it passes an overhanging section of butress.
After about 45 minutes on the canaleta a path comes up from the opposite side of the valley and it is time to find an opportune moment to descend from the canaleta and make a way through the woods for 30 metres or so to join this path, which crosses a bridge and continues in a north-westerly direction up the left (as seen) side of what remains of the valley. After 15 minutes on this path the signpost above the Font des Prat is reached and it is now necessary to retrace one’s steps over the col at 825m and down and along the new canaleta back to Es Noguer.
Torches. Any delays might leave you finishing the route in a short twilight. If climbing the scramble from Coll des Prat consider taking a scrambling rope and rack for the benefit of nervous members of the party. IGN maps 670-2 (Soller) for the first stage along the new canaleta and 671-1 (Selva) for the remainder of the route.