Puig de Massanella Additions and Corrections

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FallingUp - Oct 13, 2017 6:11 am - Hasn't voted

North face scrambling route updates

There is a "grade 2" listed scrambling route up the north face of massanella. in a nutshell, "grade 2" means that this should NOT be attempted by those without a solid degree of competence on rocks, as there are places where a single wrong move could lead to a fatal fall. That said, this route can be done, under dry conditions, without any particular equipment. However, be advised that it would be much harder to go 'down' it than up, so it is in essence a 'one way' route.

Anyway, to reach the route, you start at the col which is the high point of the GR221. Walk along the "left side" of the stone wall (while facing massanella). As you climb, you should notice a series of cairns that more or less direct you up a vague semblance of a path up to the massanella face. The scramble begins about 15m left of the wall - you should see at least two prominent cairns here indicating this.

To be clear - this scramble should under no circumstances be attempted if the rock is wet unless you have rope or other mountaineering protective equipment. It should also not be attempted by anybody without significant recent scrambling experience. It is not a long scramble by any account, but it can be quite difficulty with no easy 'escape routes'.

Anyway, the scramble consists of a few initial easy-ish hands-and-feet type pull-ups interspersed with suprisingly flat and wide traverses to the right. Be careful about going too close to the edge as there is loose rock there and an "over the edge" cant to some of the terrain, but it is not hard.

Where it gets the hardest, and this is the key point, is right near the end. Up until this point, you will have been following a series of cairns. I vaguely recall there being a series of red paint flashes there before also showing the way, but i saw no sign of those on my last trip (Oct 2017). You reach a point where there are suddenly no more cairns. And you are looking at the following:

1. on your direct left, something that looks like a crack that might be scramble-able directly. There is some vegetation there.
2. right in front of you, a small step down with a very sheer drop to the right. So, it is very narrow. this might initially fool you into thinking that the route is indeed the crack to the left.

actually, it is probably best to go onto the small step down as I think the crack, while certainly climbable at some level, may be the most risky option.

if you take the small step down, you now basically have three choices:

1. the leftmost choice which puts you to the left of a large rock.
2. the 'middle' choice which has you climb to the right of it
3. the far right choice which puts you on a ledge which shows considerable signs of wear, possibly from human contact.

i recall doing the rightmost choice before, but my memory may be faulty in that. if my memory is correct, it was quite an overhang.

of the other two options, the leftmost is probably slightly easier. however, a fall on either could quickly relieve you of your need to pay your mobile phone bill ever again. both require a fairly long reach - short climbers can do amazing things, but if you are much under 5 and a half feet and are not an experienced rock climber it may be very very difficult indeed there. there is however room for a colleague to stand behind you and help you up with an artificial foothold.

after you get up this, the remainder to the summit ridge is trivial.

so, enjoy the route - but please only attempt it if you really know you can. if any part looks too hard for you, stop, as it only gets harder further up.

i strongly discourage anybody from trying to descend this route. its too dangerous. instead, from the massanella peak, follow the ridge towards tossalds verds to where a large cairn indicates the start of a more sensible descent path (about 45 minutes back to where you started from at the col).

the actual scramble from the base of the wall is probably no more than 5-10 minutes - a testament to its verticality (and the fact that the walk up to the wall actually gains quite a bit of height).

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