After roughly 23 hours of travel from New Mexico to Barcelona, we got to our hotel in Barcelona in the mid-afternoon. We napped for four hours but then emerged for a short walk and dinner. This view of the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor surprised us both.
For the next couple of days we walked and traveled the metro around Barcelona
We popped out of the metro onto the touristy La Rambla street and ran smack into this Palm Sunday parade
This float was carried by people underneath. It rocked and swayed while moving very slowly
Unfortunately this was not a ska revival band
The Transbordador Aeri del Port cable car looked like a fun outing but we didn't partake
At first we were a bit confused by the metro system but quickly became quite proficient
A short walk uphill took us to the garden complex called Park Güell, a UNESCO world heritage site, that was built by Antoni Gaudí between 1900 and 1914
From Park Güell we had a great view of La Sagrada Familia, another Gaudi project
Fresh orange juice potential
Gaudí's right-hand man painstakingly created these mediallions by hand. I was quite impressed.
The mosaic dragon fountain is the main draw here. Everyone jockeys to have their picture taken next to it
Some even feed it
I was reminded of gingerbread houses and got quite hungry
It was a super busy day at Park Gruell
As it was April 1st, it was Allison's birthday. We celebrated with some ice cream.
Closeup of a skull at La Sagrada Familia
We had hoped to go inside La Sagrada Familia but the entrance line wrapped all around the building so we punted
It was definitely spring and we enjoyed simply walking around and relaxing
and eating croquettes! Mmmm...fried goodness
We got up early the next day and actually got to go inside La Sagrada Familia. Allison is not listening to Megadeath. We went full-on tourist with the rented audio tour headphones.
There's that skull again. These statues tell a story but I don't remember what it was about
The inside was just mind-boggling. To think construction on this was started in 1882...
The man himself
Next we headed to La Boqueria along La Rambla, a gigantic covered market full of all food imaginable
Rabbits! I honestly did not see that "No photos" sign until I got home and saw this photo on the computer. Apparently others are drawn to skinned rabbits as well.
We skipped the skinned rabbit and instead got a falafel bowl. Mmm, mmm, good.
I stocked up here
That afternoon we made our way up towards Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor but missed the last cable car up to Tibidabo (the area below the temple) so we just hoofed it. Turns out it was a nice walk and shorter than expected, anyway. We had a beer and some tapas at this scenic restaurant
Great view of downtown Barcelona from the restaurant. The past few days had been great weather but, as you can see, that was about to change
The next morning we rented a car and hit the road. Our first stop was Montserrat, a monastery high in some major conglomerate mountains about an hour outside of Barcelona
I can see why they chose this location for the monastery!
A steep funicular (cog railway) takes folks up to the highest areas of Montserrat. Of course we did.
Up above the funicular we started hiking around the conglomerate formations in the area. It didn't take long for us to spy numerous climbing routes. New glue-in next to ancient bolt
We explored a couple very old hermitage sites amongst the towers
A spring-fed water collection
Established sport climbing routes were everywhere. Route finding was easy...this is the blue route
The green route
The red route
And the yellow route. Hangers on the routes were also painted so you knew which ones to clip
We scoped out the start of the route we hoped to climb the following day, a classic five pitch 5.8. However it would continue to rain all night so we never did any climbing in Montserrat
Cruising the funicular down
My little point-and-shoot had a great enough zoom lens to see our hostel in Monistrol de Montserrat below
Looking up at an amazing formation and wall in Montserrat
The quiant town of Monistrol de Montserrat. We had a tasty dinner that night while watching the futbol rivalary between Real Madrid and Barcelona
The next day we headed deeper into the Catalunya region and saw tons and tons of rock. This is a conglomerate gorge known as Collegats
We checked in to our apartment in Baro, Spain for the next seven nights. This was a very comfortable and convenient place.
The owner, Gaspar, treated us to a beer as he showed us on a map many of the local sights
Camping Baro is the name of the place where our apartment was located. This is the rest of the area.
The nearest grocery store in 6 miles north in Sort, Spain. Unfortunately we got there during the siesta and it was pretty dead
We had been in Spain for five days and because of the rainy weather, this was all the climbing we had done. Things would improve though!
Rafting and boating are huge in this area thanks to the Riu Noguera-Pallaresa
That first night, Gaspar brought us a complimentary bottle of champagne. Allison was already in bed so I ended up pretty drunk
The next day started out dry so we headed to the fun conglomerate climbing of Collegats. After the short approach we were actually rock climbing in Spain! But the dry weather didn't last long and I got rained on as I topped out on our first route. Allison was so psyched to be climbing she climbed the route twice in the rain anyway
At least we were sure we were in the right place
A via ferrata heads up a cleft in the middle part of the cliff
Despite the rain, it was a still a pretty place to be hiking
So we drove up a scenic road to the valley of seven lakes. Turns out there's an eighth lake, this reservoir. It was cold, snowy and deserted. We didn't stay long.
But back in Baro, it turned out to be a pleasant evening for a stroll
The next morning dawned drier and clearer so we headed to a more famous climbing area called Terradets. This is a 180 degree panorama from a bridge
The approach involved a short via ferrata above the dam
Super whoah! The Les Bruixes wall at Terradets is the real deal
We started our day off with this fun 5.11a called Madroño
Bright green coming from dark gray
Super cool tufa feature on L'Ansia, a wild 5.12a
After four routes at Terradets the rain came in hard again so we drove to the The Mont-Rebei Gorge. The rain had just stopped and it was super muddy leaving us feeling like we may not get to the gorge. But we pressed on...
And the sky started to clear and things were looking up
Behold the gorge!
Two trails pass through the gorge, a low trail and a high trail. We went out on the low trail and came back via the high trail. A nice loop.
Passing through the gorge on the low trail. It sloped down towards the water and was muddy. A bit sketchy in spots
The high trail was protected with cables for handrails offering a bit more security
This place was awesome!
Beautiful light in the Congst de Mont Rebei
You can clearly see both trails in this photo. The low trail and the high trail blasted out of the wall
It turned out to be a gorgeous evening and our spirts were high. This clearing would mark the start of four sunny days...
Dropping back down to Tremp, Spain on our way back to our apartment in Baro
The next day we drove over towards Oliana, Spain to check out a couple of climbing areas there
First stop was Col De Nargo, a small, local crag. Allison and I both worked hard to send the slabby 5.10+ route on the right before these two one-legged guys strolled up and showed us how it's done. It was totally rad!
So we poked around the corner and found some friendlier conglomerate climbing
View from the crag
In the afternoon we cruised to the famed Oliana climbing area. The climbing is on the shaded blue and orange wall on the right
We checked out some easier routes on the far right side of the crag
Yeah, just chillin above Oliana
Allison cranking on an Oliana 5.10+
Super dramatic rock ridgeline
The next day found us outside of Santa Linya, Spain for some climbing at the Futbolin wall. We really liked this area.
This was our favorite route at Santa Linya, a long 5.12a called Fashion Total with a bouldery crux right at the end over the bulge
The main climbing attraction at Santa Linya for the hard person is Cova Gran. We walked down to check it out and man is it impressive!
The Futbolin wall outside of Santa Linya
Snowcapped Pyrenees Mountains on our drive back to Baro. We listened to hours of Radio Lab and Freakonomics podcasts during our daily drives.
Chispas! Gaspar's dog sunning herself in the morning
This is a dripping flowstone formation called L'Argentine in the Collegats Gorge
In the Collegats Gorge we climbed a few routes on this wall. A slabby face route on the far right, a chunky crack/corner in the middle and a crazy fun route up through the small cave on the left
The small cave we climbed through is just above the tree in the center of the photo
We took a lunch break at a rest stop outside of the Collegats Gorge
Despite never being to Spain before they had a statue of me (left) and Allison (right)
Closeup for maximum enjoyment
That afternoon we thought, "Hell, the country of Andorra, a country few know exists, is just over them there hills. Let's go check it out." But this view of Sort, Spain was too good to pass up so I didn't.
Kind of daunting looking driving into Andorra.
Once in Andorra we drove to the capital, Andorra La Vella because we didn't really know what to do
So we ate! Pizza, croquettes and beer. Turns out Andorra is really known for being a tax-haven country so all people really do is shop for alcohol and perfume
The next day we checked out a local crag called Tartareu. Despite a good bit of chunky rock, this was our favorite area of the trip thanks to the soft grips, steep rock and absolutely no one else there
Allison gets a little pump on with a fun 5.10b
The rock was an interesting mix chunky rock down low to good limestone above
Fun, steep climbing on an 11+
Allison scopes out a wildly overhung 12a
And goes for it
The village of Tartareu below
Badass rainbow over Ager, Spain on the return drive to our apartment
We checked out of our apartment and headed south towards Lleida stopping at this fine vantage over the Rio Noguera Pallaresa at the Embalse de Camarasa.
We stopped and did some roadside climbing at St. Lorenç de Montgai. The protection was bomber!
When I say roadside, I mean it
After a couple of short cragging pitches we headed up a three-pitch 5.10+ on the left side of this formation. Wild conglomerate climbing.
Pitch 1. The rock was pretty chunky and I had a hard time trusting it
It was surprisingly steep. We only had one 70m rope and with the overhanging nature of the route, the rappel could have been very sketchy. I had to do some shenanigans to stay on the wall while rappeling
Super cool position
The village of St. Lorenç de Montgai
At the top of the formation
That evening we stayed at a hotel in Lleida and spent the evening walking around the area surrounding the hotel
Fritz, Snail Tamer
For our last climbing day of the trip we went to Margalef. This was another favorite of ours.
Way cool 5.11+ pocket climbing
Margalef's conglomerate reminded us of a mix between El Rito and Enchanted Tower, NM
We did not climb on this wall at all!
But it sure was cool to stand underneath