UKC

Margalef: 20 Years of Quality Sport Climbing

The Catalan destination of Margalef - Zona del Panta North is well known throughout the world for its awesome steep walls and super hard routes, hence its popularity for hard first ascents and repeats. Perhaps less well known is the huge variety of easier climbing within the 57 currently developed sectors containing just over 1000 routes. Whether you are looking to repeat First Round, First Minute 9b, planning your first ever sport climbing trip or looking forward to that first cerveza at the end of your climbing day; Margalef will not disappoint.

photo
Can Torxa
© Holly Bean

Climbing in Margalef began in 1996, when Jordi Pou found the new climbing area he had been searching for. He discovered two valleys with stunning conglomerate walls; the Panta Valley and the valley of Sant Salvador. Jordi saw enormous potential and to his disbelief there were no established routes, so he set about developing the first sectors. Amongst them Can Llepafils, Can Torxa and Can Pesafigues gave routes between 4+ and 7a and are still very popular approaching 20 years on.

Together with friends such as Joan Ribera and Toni Albero, Jordi continued to develop areas of increasing difficulty which attracted the best sport climbers the world had to offer. Ramon Julian, Dani Andrada, Chris Sharma and Iker Pou all began to open projects and create visionary lines of their own.

Jordi not only began to develop what was to evolve as a world class climbing destination, he also reformed a property in the village and opened the first refuge "Can Severet." As popularity increased for Margalef, Jordi embarked upon another project and in 2012 "El Raco de la Finestra" was finished and the new refuge was ready for business.

Approaching its twenty year anniversary, Margalef is still growing with new quality sectors and routes popping up in each valley. One man who began bolting in 2008 deserves a special mention, as since his arrival he has not stopped creating new lines and sectors. You may meet Vincent Palau working in the refuge, climbing new routes or emerging from esoteric areas with twigs in his hair and a smile upon his face!

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Cami de L'ermita as the sun sets
© Holly Bean

With all this development taking place it is not just the higher end climber that can get the best out of Margalef. Whole sectors of 4's, 5's and 6's exist and are never far away from some harder 7's 8's and 9's making it possible for any combination of people to team up and achieve at their level. The quality and quantity of lower graded routes is huge, making Margalef truly a superb choice for beginners, intermediate climbers and children. Children of all abilities seem to find Margalef a great place to climb, finding that routes suit them due to the sheer volume of pockets for both hands and feet - a small 2 finger pocket for an adult could well be a resting jug for a child!

Due to the varying orientation of the crags, Margalef has prime conditions from autumn all the way through to the end of spring! During the summer months it is possible to enjoy the climbing if you take advantage of the many sectors in the shade and climb in the morning or late afternoon.

Investment in the future of climbing in the area has been made with the development of two parking areas with facilities, thus enabling the environment to become cleaner, safer and how nature intended.

It has to be said that it is not just the beauty of the national park that stands out; the smiles on the villagers' faces, their warm welcome and how they have embraced the climbing community makes this a very special place to visit.

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Punta de Espadelles...always growing
© Holly Bean

Selected Sectors

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Camilla's first day of climbing at Cami de L'ermita
© Holly Bean

If you are after 4's and 5's why not take a look at Can Llepafils; this south facing sector situated in the Panta valley offers 37 routes up to 6b. With eight routes in the fourth grade, fourteen in the fifth and plenty of low grade sixes this is a great place to start.

Suggested additional sectors for those operating within this grade range are "Can Mansettes" and "Bloc del Porc."

For those climbing 5's and 6's the stunning "Cami de l'ermita" is a must. Situated at the top of the valley of Sant Salvador, this sector offers superb quality climbs, views and sunshine! The 30m routes "Flors I violes" (6b+) and "Seca I meca" (6c) follow beautiful features up this impressive conglomerate wall and should not be missed.

Suggested additional sectors for this level are: "Can Torxa" and "Can Pesafigues".

Finally….6's and 7's…..here we have to mention the two biggest sectors; "Raco de la Finestra" and the never ending "Raco de les Espadelles".

"Raco de la Finestra" is a north facing sector of approximately 80 routes, situated in the valley of "Sant Salvador". Check out "Magrana" (6b+) and "Montgronyeta" (7b+)

"Raco de les Espadelles" is an ever expanding sector, with the recent development of "Punta de Espadelles" and "Espadelles Extension". The crag is perfect for winter climbing with crisp air and blue skies. There are approximately 200 routes from 5 to 9a to choose from.

Logistics

How to Get There

Flights to: Barcelona - 2.5 hour drive, Reus - 1.5 hour drive

Car hire is advised as there is no train or regular bus service.

Accommodation Advertise here

No Premier Listings found in this area

There are a number of different options for accommodation in Margalef, including the climbing refuge "El Raco de la Finestra", the parking areas "El Pont" or "La Presa", if you have a camper van or tent and "Casa Catalunya", a newly renovated, self-catered house in the village to name but a few.

Food and Supplies

The village shop run by the wonderful Anna sells everything you may need from groceries and vegetables to gas and chalk. Fresh bread is baked daily and you can purchase local olive oil, cheese, meat and wine.

The village has an ATM

There is a Pharmacy and Doctor available 3 days per week.

Additional places to eat and stay are Cafe Vernet, Ca Calbet and Tres Pins.

Outdoor Shops Advertise here

No Premier Listings found in this area

Guidebooks

There are two options: "Tarragona Climbs" by Pete O'Donovan and Dani Andrada, this is a selected guide for crags in the Tarragona province including Margalef, neighbouring Siurana and the Montsant range. The guide has a good number of sectors for Margalef that would keep most of us occupied for many visits.

In addition to this the most up to date guide book, produced by Jordi Pou, can be bought from the Refugio or the local shop for 12€. Also the new routes book in the Refugio is constantly being updated with new lines and sectors.

Instructor/Guides Advertise here

No Premier Listings found in this area

Climbing Walls Advertise here

No Premier Listings found in this area

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Sunsets at Espadelles - always a great end to the day
© Holly Bean

UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Holly Bean



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