While most climbers know by now that Spanish crags like Santa Linya and Oliana are sport climbing paradises for top-tier pros, I recently spent a month climbing in Spain and was pleasantly surprised to learn that there are many excellent crags that offer grades for every level of climber.
Our friend and local climber Cristian Lamiel was a great tour guide to these areas. Cristian runs a great service called Climb In Peace, which helps traveling climbers find lodging at a region of their choosing. Following are the areas he showed us.
Beth Rodden at the Collegats climbing area, Spain.
Collegats is a beautiful area in the north of Spain, near the quaint town of La Pobla de Segur. Due to its location, it’s prone to snow in the winter months, but also nicer when the heat arrives. Half of the canyon is a south-facing line of conglomerate cliff, a little like Utah’s Maple Canyon. The area called Sector Cine is set above a beautiful river valley and offers panoramic views. Suffering from a tweaked finger, this crag was my refuge for several days. With only a few routes rated above 7a (5.11d), its best lines fall in the 5 to 6 (5.8–5.11) range — a perfect spot to shake off the jet lag and enjoy some Spanish sun. The north-facing side of the canyon, which houses sectors La Terrasseta and La Pedrera, is made up of that quintessential bullet blue limestone for which Spain is famous. Routes here range from moderate to hard in a quiet setting right on the river. It was too cold to climb on this side of the canyon in February, so we stuck to Sector Cine.
Recommended routes (in Sector Cine): Lawrence de Rabia (5+ / 5.10-), Arena y Libertad (6a / 5.10b), Anibal el Canibal (6a / 5.10b), Come Trankas Ministre (6c / 5.11b), Yaku Killaku (7a / 5.11d)
Camarasa, located next to the town of the same name, has a handful of sectors that can provide days of fun. Crestes de Conill is a great slabby crag that boasts bullet hard, sharp limestone. It’s an easy approach and close to the popular camping area in St. Llorenc de Montgai. I would definitely recommend this crag for anyone looking to give their arms a rest and their feet a workout. Best for 5s and 6s. Marcant Estil is a crag located directly on the frontage road. It reminded me of the old-school areas in the US (Indian Rock, Mortar Rock, Morrison) with its short, to-the-point nature. It’s in a frigid location, but if you're in need of a quick climbing area with cool temps, this is a good bet.
Recommended routes (in Marcant Estil): Miss Linda (6a / 5.10b), Del Guillem (6b / 5.10d)
Futbolin is a crag of red-and-blue limestone moderates located on the way to the daunting Santa Linya cave. It takes its name from the little soccer field at the parking area. Slightly northeast of the tiny town of Les Avellanes, Futbolin is surrounded by Spanish farm land. My first trip to Spain included a bum foot, so I spent a lot of time at the “Football Crag” before belaying my partners at Santa Linya. The slightly overhanging flanks of the crag have several 6s that are super fun and provide for great movement. There are a few easy 7s (5.12-) in the center that would make for perfect projects or fun onsights, depending on your speed. It’s a short approach and definitely worth the trip if you are in the area. Best for 6s and 7s (5.10–5.12).
Recommended routes: El Regurgitador (6b+ / 5.11a), El Kakilo (6c+ / 5.11c), Spanglish (7a+ / 5.12a), Colera (7b / 5.12b)
The beautiful view from the Terredets crag in Spain.
Terredets is a heaven on earth for sport climbers; I could have spent my entire trip here. By car, it’s halfway between Santa Linya an Collegats, about 30 minutes from each. A tufa-filled wall stretches on like the perfect wave for a surfer. Long, pumpy routes are stacked feet from each other. Unfortunately, the easiest route is 6a+ (5.10d), and there’s only one of those. There are a few other 6s, but then the difficulty jumps to 7s and 8s (5.12s and 5.13s). It’s really a perfect spot if you’re climbing 7a+ (5.12a) and higher. The sun starts to creep in late morning / early afternoon, making it great on cold winter days... or heinous in the late spring.
Recommended routes: L’Ansia (7a+ / 5.12a), Pasta sin Agua (7a+ / 5.12a), Derribos Arias (7b+ / 5.12c), Tarambana (7b+ / 5.12c), Avant March (7c / 5.12d), Occident (7c / 5.12d).
All of the crags mentioned here can be found in the fantastic Sport Climbing in Lleida guidebook. It can be purchased at the camping in St. Llorenc de Montgai for €25. It also contains many more areas and climbs that I didn’t have time to visit.
If visiting during a warmer time, the multi-pitch climbing at Vilanova de Meia looks incredible. The setting is gorgeous and makes for a great outing and something different than the single-pitch focus of the rest of the cliffs.
A building designed by Antoni Gaudí (left) and a flamenco performance, both in Barcelona, Spain.
Spain is a great, easy place to travel. The locals are friendly and enthusiastic. Barcelona makes for a great rest-day trip (or two). Depending on traffic, it’s about two hours by car from the general area of the climbing. We took a walking tour of the modernist architecture in Barcelona, toured some of the homes designed by Antoni Gaudí, experienced Flamenco performances, and tasted the delicious cuisine.
If you are like me and cherish good food, I would stock up at the Bio Space grocery store in Barcelona. It offers a huge selection of organic produce and staples.
I’m already planning my trip next year and can’t wait to return!