Grau dels Matxos

After a couple of day’s hiatus in the climbing plan to make room for a 36 hour dash back for a work commitment in Blighty, we’re back in RockAroundTheWorld action… 

Grau dels Matxos is a relatively recently developed crag about 40 minutes inland from Barcelona, about half way to Vic. Turning off the main drag at Aiguafreda you are confronted with a long band of crags set high on the green tree-covered hillside. The crags stretch for miles, but so far “only”  about a kilometre has been developed with about a couple of hundred routes.

Good topo and access map here

Access is very easy, after a slightly hair-raising few kilometers zigzagging  up a dirt road (passable in a regular car but reassuring to have the truck!). You park at the edge of the limestone plateau above the crag, 

(we hadn’t baggsied a spot, honest, there was a race planned for the weekend)… walk back down the road a hundred meters or so to the first hairpin, and carry on along a good path to the first routes in only 5 minutes (an ambiguous map and Catalan description had us rapping down a steep approach gully on our first visit – don’t bother!)

The rock is a fine grained sandstone merging into limestone nearer the top. It’s a bit variable in places (especially on a couple of routes we randomly picked before we really got our bearings) but once we’d found a route list that had a star rating (and most of the routes have a name painted at the bottom)

… and started working through the starred routes, things improved.

Here’s Helen on I Love NY, 6a+/b and a bit sandy

Here’s the first of the starred routes we found Enderrocs Puigdomenech, 6a+and very good 

The only downside (at least in March) of the crag is that as well as being on the top of quite a big hill, it is East facing and loses the sun in the early afternoon (probably a blessing a bit later in the year), so we got chilled long before running out of interesting looking routes – no matter, we just came back the next day. 

Sticking only to starred routes we ticked off a bunch near the nearest (right hand) end of the crag: R to L, Andrex 6a*, Hex 6a+* and Skins 6b**

Further left the crag reaches maximum height and opens up a bit with a couple of impressive walls. Dels Cunyats takes a steep sustained slab, a tough 6b and the only route judged worthy of *** (they don’t give ’em away) 

And Piano Piano, 7a** takes a steeper and thinner wall. 

Well worth a visit, and one we’ll come back to (perhaps in warmer weather). Still sunny and 18C when we get back to  the campsite so it’s on to the “sun deck” to enjoy a beer and catch the last of the rays. 

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