Barcelona is a well-known tourist destination for both, college students on a backpacking trip, and the supposedly more serious and more middle-aged, middle-class crowd looking for a mix of good food, good sightseeing, beach and culture all in one. But, surprisingly, it is definitely less well-known as the hub for one of the most diverse climbing regions in the developed world. It cannot boast Switzerland’s high peaks or Utah’s unlimited sandstone, however it does have other advantages such as the mild climate or easy access to hundreds of climbing crags.
When Catalans discovered the drilling business, the sport climbing revolution of the 80ies converted Catalonia, the area whose capital is Barcelona, into what I timidly call the climber’s paradise on earth. This gem has remained invisible, covered in mud for some time, although the Rockfax guidebooks have popularized to the international traveler such places as Siurana. Definitely some more effort has been given by the climbing icon Chris Sharma, who not only has climbed some of the hardest lines around Catalonia (i.e. the famous La Rambla in Siurana), but has also managed to grab the highest price – Daila Ojeda, his current girlfriend. However, most of the current areas remain virtual unknown to the larger climbing community – which is both a shame, and a well-guarded secret for the numerous local climbers.
After this lengthy introduction it might be a good idea to get down to business and describe the actual climbing around Barcelona. Please, if someone can tell me of a city that has in its radius (that I define as a maximum of 1hr drive by car) over 20 crags with rock type ranging from limestone to conglomerate, granite, and sandstone, with long routes of up to 10 pitches and infinite number of sport climbing routes, with aid up to A5, bouldering and psicobloc – please, tell me, I will reconsider my choice. For the moment though, I choose Barcelona as a long-term living headquarters!
Given the weather in Barcelona, climbing is possible year-round. It is all about choosing the right face than anything else. In average, maybe 5 or 6 days a year of climbing are definitely impossible because of rain. All other days – there is a way, especially if you have the local knowledge of crags, rock quality etc. So let us concentrate on this 1h radius around Barcelona, the main reason you are reading this page. I will describe them by season, given that temperature is very important, and getting the right face is key to the climbing experience.
– La Fuixarda – biggest ‘inner city’ – and key is FREE – rock climbing gym using up the old sandstone quarry (the cathedral downtown was built using its stones) and the tunnel, climbing possible day and night due to illumination from the near-by rugby field, with sun or rain (inside the tunnel), just grab shoes and you can easily encounter a partner or just traverse the tunnel (6c on one side, 7a on the other);
– Parc Güell Wall – for less social and more practice-oriented climbing freaks
– Montjuïc Castle
– several bouldering gyms (Climbat, Freebloc, Fess)
Main summer crags:
– St Llorenç del Munt – for climbers in 7s and 8s grades, perfect summer conglomerate destination with areas called Siberia for instance…;
– Grau dels Matxos – a sandstone crag, very special climbing;
– Montserrat North Face boasts several sport climbing areas, all technical conglomerate:
– Psicobloc: Tossa – an awesome waterfront granite spot to start you on the deep water soloing craze before heading to the hights of Mallorca’s 20 m walls;
Other crags: (** marks places with very good winter conditions):
– Calders – limestone, sun in the morning until 15 pm, perfect if it is raining cats and dogs;
– Las Paparres – overhanging limestone fest (**)
– Gelida – best limestone of the Penedès chain, especially if you are entering the 7th grade (**)
– More Montserrat:
* St Benet area – where the hard sport climbing actually started, very special place in Montserrat, worth a visit for its own sake, the soul of the mountain sleeps there somewhere;
* Can Jorba (South Face)
* La Piula
* Vermell del Xincarró
* Cova de l’Arcada
* Agulla del Senglar
– Can Boquet
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