Montsant cliffs from Morera de Montsant
Before we went to Spain, I invited Lynn Hill over for dinner and asked her for suggestions about where in Spain we should climb.
“Montsant, my favorite place,” she suggested. “And I brought you a bottle of wine from Montsant.”
What a combination – fantastic climbing and great wines! What Lynn didn’t tell us, is that Montsant also bordered on the Parque Natural de La Serra del Montsant (Montsant Natural Park), where we enjoyed the best hiking we found in Catalonia.
We drove through the village of Cornudella de Montsant to Morera de Montsant, where we parked our car in a lot outside of town and began hiking up the Carrascets “trail”. Though I speak Spanish, in Catalonia all street signs and trail signs were printed in Catalan, which I don’t speak. We guessed that the signs, that looked like regular trail signs, with arrows, pointed to a trail and that the numbers referred to kilometers.
Since there weren’t many kilometers, it seemed like we should enjoy a pleasant hike and see a bit of town and the scenery. The trail started well, with lots of signposts, and a good, gravelly surface.
The trail gets steeper
Suddenly the trail headed straight up a gully between two rock buttresses and ended at a set of iron rungs pounded into the rock. I’d heard of the Italian “via Ferratas”, but had not heard that similar routes existed in Spain. The rungs were large, and the cliff not too high, so we headed up the ladder to where a relatively normal trail continued up.
We followed sign posts to the right
At the top of the cliffs, signposts indicated a trail to the right, which we followed. The trail, initially fairly wide, narrowed to followed a ledge at the cliff’s edge. Here’s cables were provided for self-belay (Climbers usually wear a special self-belay on a via Ferrata, consisting of a harness, slings, and carabiners to hook into the cables.) If we’d worn a harness, or brought slings, these would have been very nice. However, I was in shorts and shirt and Tristan brought our camelback. At least we had water.
We gingerly edged along the one-foot wide ledge at the edge of a several hundred-foot drop, where slipping on gravel would have meant a fatal fall. I grabbed the cable as I walked across, thinking that this hike seemed a lot scarier than rock climbing with a rope and belay.
Looking down at Montsant
Eventually, after a short bit where we crawled on our hands and knees under an overhanging section of rock, our trail started heading back down toward town. After one more section on rungs, we joined a more normal trail. With a sigh of relief, we returned to our car shortly before dark.
I decided next time to ask about trails at the tourist office.