Siurana - old town
Posted by sibylle in Spain, Siurana, Europe (Monday February 16, 2009 at 8:53 pm)

siurana town.JPG
Looking down onto Siurana

The old village of Siurana, in Catalunya, consisted mainly of old castle ruins, and old Refugio which formerly allowed climbers to stay; and a small central core of town. The campground was fairly self-sufficient, with laundry facilities and a restaurant on site.

Most climbers stayed at the campground and walked daily to their choice of cliff - abundant cliffs surround the town on almost all sides. We climbed here whenever we could, and drove toward Montsant to hike in the Natural Park on  rest days.
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Looking toward the old Refugio from near the campground

Siurana - Catalunya, Spain
Posted by sibylle in Spain, Siurana, Europe (Thursday February 12, 2009 at 9:15 pm)


Our campsite in Siurana

We moved form the La Mussara campground to a new campsite at Siurana. Our views weren’t as spectacular as they had been, but we found a nice flat spot that could accommodate our rental car at one end, a small table and chairs, and our tent nestled among the trees at the other end. The campground had some of the best showers I saw in Spain; better than they had been in our hotel in Barcelona.

The woman running the campground also cooked meals, served at the restaurant on site. One night a week she made Paella for everyone. We tried this, but I wasn’t impressed – it was extremely greasy, clearly having been subjected to an overabundance of the local olive oil.

In addition to campsites, she also rented out several small cabins. We met a Finnish couple who drove to Spain, from Finland, and who were staying in the cabins. We also met a couple from New Zealand who were on an extended climbing trip, starting in Britain and now in Spain.

From our campsite, we could walk to the climbs at various cliffs surrounding Siurana.
We felt that Siurana had the following advantages:
Walk to the cliff
Close to shops in Cornudella
Nice showers
Close to Montsant Park and great hikes

And the following disadvantages:
Noisier (more people, barking dogs)
Animals steal food (dogs), because we can’t leave it inside

La Mussara advantages:
Beautiful, clean tent site on pine needles
Picnic tables outside for cooking and eating
Keep food inside the Refugio – cool and safe
Quiet and private
Better shopping at Reus
Lots of easy and moderate climbs

Colder, especially at night
Drive to climbs
No toilet paper or soap provided
Showers not always open or with hot water

La Mussara has better camping and easier climbs
Siurana has easier access to (harder) climbs and better hiking opportunities.


Hiking near Montsant

Siurana - town and ruins
Posted by sibylle in Spain, Siurana, Europe (Monday February 9, 2009 at 10:37 am)


Ruins of an old castle above Lake Siurana

We hadn’t initially planned on climbing at Siurana, best known for its collection of the planet’s toughest routes. Alex Huber climbed the initial section of La Rambla in 1993 and in 2003, the Spaniard  Ramon Julian climbed a continuation, La Rambla Direct, rated 5.15a.

Recently, Chris Sharma climbed an even harder route in Siurana, ‘Golpe De Estado’ (5.15b?).


Old Refugio on cliff and terraced gardens

While it’s fun to look at the world’s hardest climbs, which only two or three people in the world have ever climbed (or  only one), most people want to climb on their vacations, not just look at a route that one person has done.

Siurana’s well-kept secret is several moderate cliffs, within easy walking distance of the campground, which are accessible to mere mortals. The trail to the Village Crags starts near the ruins of an old castle. You can park near the castle if driving to Siurana or walk to the crags from the nearby new campground. Climbers used to stay at the Refugio shown in the picture, but when we arrived it was closed and a large campground opened a short walk from the trail.


Town of Siurana

We walked to Sector Can Margues Lower, part of the “Village Crags”, where we climbed an assortment of easier routes on excellent less-than-vertical limestone with well-spaced newer bolts. From here, we walked to Sectors Can Gan Dionis and Can Facil where I found some very pleasant routes (in the 5.9 – 5.10 range) that I lead with no problems and Tristan lead some harder climbs.

While Siurana’s reputation may scare off less experienced climbers, I hope that in this blog I can put those doubts to rest. Europeans have learned that Spain provides a great vacation destination, with its dry sunny climate, charming villages, and extensive natural park systems, but many Americans don’t look past the reports of the latest 5.15 put up by the current world’s hot climber.

Siurana, Spain
Posted by sibylle in Spain, Siurana, Europe (Wednesday February 4, 2009 at 10:43 am)


Tristan Hechtel on Can Margues, Upper

Curious as to what Spain had to offer, we headed to Siurana to compare the various cliffs. Our first day, we walked to Can Margues, a cliff with a short approach hike and an assortment of easy and harder climbs. Not knowing the rock, I wanted to start on the easier climbs.

Moritz Waldleben, Can Margues Upper

At the base of Can Margues, we encountered a German family with two kids climbing – Moritz, age 9, leading the routes, and his little sister Tea following them. Their littlest sibling was still in a child carrier and not yet climbing, but looked as though she would be as soon a she was big enough to fit in a harness.

At Can Margues upper, we climbed several routes in the French 6a range (about 5.10 a) and then headed out of the hot sun to the shadier Can Margues lower. Here Moritz’s father had put up a harder route, a 6c+ (too hard for me), which the boys wanted to try. Mostly it had a roof, and as I’d recently had the cast removed from my broken wrist, cranking on an overhanging climb didn’t seem realistic.

Moritz Waldleben, Can Margues Upper

From La Mussara, it was less than 30 km  (18 miles) to Siurana, but the drive took close to 40 minutes, as we passed through two small villages and the road consisted of many along hairpin switchbacks. We decided that we’d move to the campground at Siurana while we climbed here, as I didn’t want to face the switchbacks twice daily, especially in the evening after climbing hard all day.

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