Puigsacalm : [cyclo-mountaineering] South buttress of Puig dels Llops

Puigsacalm : [cyclo-mountaineering] South buttress of Puig dels Llops

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General

route_types: traverse
activities:
durations: 1 day(s)

climbing_outdoor_type: multi

configuration: edge

quality: medium

Rating

5b > 5bA0

    P1 

heights

elevation min/max : 490 m / 1515 m

height_diff_up: 1000 m

height_diff_difficulties: 150 m

difficulties_height: 1200 m

orientations

E W S N

description

Get off the train at Sant Quirze de Besora and head towards Vidrà, which is some 12km away. The road climbs gently and allows for quick cycling. After Santa Maria de Besora, halfway to Vidrà (there are restaurants and shops opened even on Sundays), continue climbing until you reach the Vidrà Pass, which is just before the village.

Continue towards Siuret and you’ll find a short descent that leads you to the bottom of the Ges Valley, which you need to follow upwards on its left side until the valley turns to the East. Short after passing the bottom of the valley you’ll reach an idyllic plain in the middle of which there’s the tiny village of Siuret.

Keep on going up by the same road until a pronounced curve, below the Turó del Pla de la Creu. Leave the tarmac and take a dirt road on the right to the East towards the Siuret Pass. After it, turn right to reach Platraver, an impressive countryside house surrounded by pastures full of cattle.

By the house, there’s a fence after which the road is less evident: for 200m, cycle over the pastures following a hardly-used rut. Further down the dirt road appears again but you need to get off it immediately, as you pass a grassy field with no tracks whatsoever. Cross it upwards diagonally until you reach an old road, visible at the highest part of the field.

The dirt road, in quite bad shape, enters a beech forest. Depending on the amount of previous days without rain, you’ll find the track more or less muddy. If that’s the case, it is better to leave the bicycles earlier. Otherwise, continue cycling.

The track soon becomes no more than a path, but it is still feasible by bike, yet it’s quite demanding. Not far on you’ll get out of the forest and will come across a wooden fence with a door. Cross it and pass a direction sign. From here, turn left and go up the field by the fence. Cross a large clearing and turn again to the left when the path enters the forest (direction sign and wooden door).

After a short passage through the beech forest, you’ll reach a new, smaller clearing. Once you cross it and enter the forest again, you’ll find a junction. Take the Camí dels Burros (direction sign). This is the highest point reachable by bike (after considerable effort), since it’s precisely here where you will come after having climbed the Puig dels Llops.

The Camí dels Burros starts with a short descent (there’s a fixed rope to go down a slab which is not very difficult). Shortly afterwards the path starts flanking the slopes under the Puigsacalm’s southern cliffs. At some point the path is somewhat exposed but doesn’t pose much difficulty.

As you exit the forest, you’ll see the prominent Puigsacalm’s south buttress. This is not our target. It won’t be until you go past it that you’ll see the Llop’s buttress. Continue by the same path until you are precisely on the buttress. There’s a cairn next to a small beech where the tiny path leading to the beginning of the climbing route branches off. If you failed to notice this cairn you would find just beyond it a new fixed rope and a wood plank.

Climb the buttress until the beginning of the steepest section, where you’ll see the first bolts. The route elegantly climbs the edge of the buttress, with the belay stations comfortably located on ledges. Moreover, the route is perfectly equipped, rendering the climb relaxing and allowing you to enjoy the surroundings and the landscape.

The first pitch overcomes a step of the buttress, after which you’ll reach the difficulties. The second pitch bends to the right and then to the left to avoid a roof, under which lays the first belay station. The second one is just under the dihedral you will deal with in the third pitch. From here there’s still some 5th grade but difficulties become less steady as the route loses verticality. The last pitch hides no remarkable difficulty but is quite exposed.

The buttress abuts on the very summit. To go back to the bicycles, take the path that goes along the crest towards Puigsacalm. Climb this peak also and then take the path that descends to the East towards the junction where the Camí dels Burros starts. Continue from where you hid the bicycles and retrace your way until Vidrà. The whole way is downhill except for a short section before Platraver and the part between the bridge over the Ges River and Vidrà.

Once in Vidrà, if you’re short of time and risk losing the last train, you’d better keep retracing the way up along paved roads and almost all of it is downhill.

Otherwise it is worth trying an alternative technical descent that will lead you to Torelló passing by the Forat Micó. From Vidrà, take a dirt road that branches off to the South and that winds its way down next to the house known as ‘el Cavaller’. The track goes unhesitantly to the Ges Valley. Follow it until a pronounced curve from the tip of which starts a path signalled by white and yellow paint marks. At the beginning of the path there is also a wood stake marked with these same colours. The path is wide enough to cycle and the exposed sections are protected by a handrail. You need to be quite skilled to cycle the whole of this section.

Not far from the beginning of the path you’ll pass the Tosca dels Degotalls, a rounded rock likely to be dripping water. A bit further on there’s a dirt road that crosses our path. Don’t take it but continue on the same path. It’s likely that you’ll see motorbike ruts on the path, since it’s a target for the motorbikers of the area. Just before going back to the dirt road there’s a short ascent that makes it necessary to push your bicycle for some minutes. Once on the dirt road, take it downwards and arrive to the Forat Micó, a narrow of the Ges River, just before setting foot on the plains around Sant Pere de Torelló.

Keep going down on the same dirt road, which fords the Ges River some times, until you find the paved road that descends from the Bracons Pass. Turn right and continue to Sant Pere de Torelló and Torelló, to take the train back home.

Total distance: 53km

Timing:
The mountain bike approach can easily take between 3:00 and 3:30, depending on the spot where you leave them. Allow for an hour to reach the beginning of the climbing route along the Camí dels Burros and up to 2:30 or 3:00h for the climb, plus 0:30h to go back to the bicycles and 2:30h to go back to the train in Torelló. The total amount of time to do the overall activity is tight compared to the time elapsed from the first train reaching Sant Quirze de Besora and the last one leaving Torelló. Nevertheless, as explained above, there are alternatives to shorten the way back.

Distances and elevation gain:
The distance covered by bike depends on the point where you leave them, but it ranges from 52 to 55km. Accordingly, the elevation gain of the cycling part is somewhere between 1000 and 1150m.

remarks

In the cycling part the difficulties are concentred in the final part of the approach. We can tackle them by leaving the bikes earlier if needed. As for the way back, the most technical part is that between Vidrà and Sant Pere de Torelló, especially the section of the Tosca dels Degotalls, which requires some skills, particularly given the weight that you’ll be carrying.

This activity can be done all year round but you need to take into account that the aspect of the buttress is south and that the length of the approach combined with the train timetables will make it unavoidable to start climbing at the hottest hours of the day. Therefore, you need to make sure you take enough water. As for the winter, apart from the cold, consider the light hours, which will give you less margin. It is inadvisable to attempt the Forat Micó descent without enough daylight.

gear

Minimum repair kit: spare inner tube, pump, patches, glue and chain splitter. Climbing gear: 15 quickdraws and material for the belay stations. In order to leave the bicycles while you climb, take a pair of chains and locks so that you can lock them to a tree.

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