Another week-end calls for another adventure, another route. This time a new team - Xavi, Remy, and myself, decided to go for the long outstanding classic, the Valentin Casanovas on the incredible Aeri wall of Montserrat. Long time ago it used to be the hardest route down here, and some aura still remains despite the plethora of 8as abounding on other walls. It is long, serious, and sustained. It requires skill and will, many friends and some balls leading aid on very old buriles.
The first pitch is one of the hardest on the route - free it is a very sustained 6c, or I would even call it a 6c+. Here is Remy battling with the first lead under the hot sun of Aeri:
Second pitch is easier, it has a supposedly 6b+ roof, which we successfully cheated through, aiding on the first couple of pitons - here is Remi following the top part after the roof, Santa Cecilia monestary in the background and some air already underneath us:
Next comes an easier slab pitch, with interesting run-outs to get to the belay. Some skill and cool head required despite the easy grade. Afterwards starts the feast - two pitches of aiding up on old buriles. There is one missing in the end of the first aid pitch requiring crazy free moves, at least 6b at this point and with very crappy pro below. Xavi proved to be the man on this one. The content team following, in the aiding process:
Then one gets into the layback, the cherry on the cake. It is a big flake that can be seen from a distance pointing up in the middle of the Aeri wall, and all the previous effort was to actually get to this flake. Xavi following the first pitch of the layback:
It lasts for another 3 pitches (half of the second aid pitch, a full 40m pitch of 6a made happy with a friend 4, and another 20m pitch of 5+/6a). The best friends:
The end is as good as the beginning - one has to get out of the mouse trap through a diagonal chimney-traverse. Some guidebooks simply call it ungradable, and it is...It is full of holds - and also bird crap and various bugs - friends go in like crazy but none is secure enough - and the exist is...crazy, just crazy. Here is a short video of our last team member getting through - painfully and finally helmetless. A feat.
The route eases off at this point, and after a 6a traverse and a scramble one can enjoy the top - in mist in our case, but happy nevertheless! What a route! My favorite in Montserrat so far, pure adrenaline - and good company. Thanks, guys!