Recommendations: V to 6c+

I was recently chewing the fat with an old climbing acquaintance back in Sheffield. It was a miserable day in early November, with the prospect of several months of the same (or worse, as it turned out) inevitably steering the conversation towards foreign climbing trips.
Albert Cortés on Raiverd (6b), 
Collegats.
We discussed the various locations around Europe where one might escape the dreary UK winter for a week or two of good rock and, hopefully, good weather, and our conclusion was that despite the appearance of some very worthy newcomers on the scene (Kalymnos is one obvious example), after nearly two decades at the top Spain is arguably still the number one ‘sun rock’ destination for British climbers.
Like many enthusiastic climbers of a ‘certain age’, my friend is a seasoned Spanish campaigner, with a number of trips under his belt: he’s ‘done’ the various different islands (Mallorca, Tenerife/Gran Canaria) and ‘Costas’ (Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca) up and down the country.
However, even though I strongly suspected it, I was still rather surprised to hear that he’d never been to Catalunya in the northeast of the country— an area which has more rock and more routes than the rest of the Iberian Peninsula put together, and the place where Spanish climbers go on holiday.
I began by waxing lyrical about the delights of the Serra de Prades (aka ‘Costa Daurada’, which is actually pretty popular with many Brits) and then moved on to my own patch, Lleida, but he suddenly stopped me in mid-flow.
“Hang on a minute” he blurted out, “Sure, it looks great in the magazines — Oliana, Terradets, Santa Linya, etc., are obviously all fantastic cliffs — but they’re not for me: I climb 6b, not 9b!"
I was completely taken aback by this statement, and even more so when other climbers on the periphery of the conversation more or less echoed these sentiments. Does everyone think this way, I thought? Perhaps they do. After all, virtually any time Catalunya pops up on the news pages of major climbing websites and magazines the content is invariably something along the lines of "Dani Andrada climbs new 9a+ in Santa Linya" or "Sharma sends Siurana 9b project". Fair enough, I suppose, after all "16 new climbs between IV and 6b equipped on superb new crag" hardly constitutes breaking news, even if it is far more relevant to the average climber.
But having spent 20 years climbing in Lleida province, and having just published a new selective guidebook to the area (Lleida Climbs, co-written with Dani Andrada) featuring more than 1,900 routes, of which 50% are below 7a, I think I’m in a pretty strong position to categorically say that Lleida is not just for hot-shots.
So what follows is an in-depth tour around the province's best crags for 5's and 6's, both single and multi-pitch, but before getting down to the nitty-gritty, a few words regarding exactly what constitutes a ‘good’ middle-grade sector are probably in order. Sure, most crags in the region, even awesomely steep pieces of rock like Contrafort de Rumbau at Oliana with its 50m 9a+’s, usually have a handful of 6's lurking in the lower, less steep 'wings', but these are really just sideshows to the main event, maybe OK for the weaker member of mixed ability teams while their more accomplished partner is resting from attempts on a harder project, but hardly warranting a special visit for the majority of climbers. No, for the purposes of this article we are looking at crags where the V's and 6's are the main course (or at least a very substantial starter) rather than just a bit of garnish on the side.
And despite earlier references to “sun rock” and “escaping the dreary British winter”,
Lleida shouldn’t be considered as merely a cold weather venue: in fact, owing to orientation or altitude (or sometimes a combination of both) climbing in several of it’s major zones is only possible during the summer months, so we’ll be talking about those too.
Note (1): In this region routes below 6a can be graded either using Roman numerals i.e. 'V', or the standard French system of numbers and letters i.e. '5b', depending on the zone (and preferences of the local activists). The equivalents are: IV+ = 5a; V = 5b; V+ = 5c.
Note (2): All the zones and sectors featured in this article are covered in more detail in the Lleida Climbs guidebook. The guidebook is broken up into 5 different geographic ‘areas’, and the article will follow the same format: consult the map below for more details.


Map of Catalunya showing location of Lleida's major climbing zones.

Area 1
CAMARASA
This impressive gorge, the meeting point of the rivers Segre and Noguera-Pallaresa, has long been a favourite with Lleida climbers. The crags are scattered across a picturesque wooded hillside and overlooked by the mighty walls of Mont Roig (Red Mountain) on the opposite side of the gorge. But the really great thing about Camarasa is the rock: rough, red and grey limestone, littered with juggy pockets and pleasingly in-cut edges. You find stunning, blank-looking walls where 6b's rub shoulders with 7c's, and until you actually get on them, visually there's very little to distinguish one from the other.
Camarasa also has another trick up its sleeve: the majority of its sectors face West or Northwest, meaning one can happily climb here anytime between March and October, and in a country dominated by south-facing walls, that's a very useful attribute indeed.
With so many excellent sectors it's not easy to single out just a few for special mention, but the following crags should point you in the right direction.


Vicky Rodriguez on  
Tascones Lejanos (6a+),
Camarasa









Marcant Estil: Lleida's most popular climbing sector — you'll never walk alone here. Chief amongst its attractions seems to be the very short approach: out of the car and onto the rock.
The 56 routes here (predominantly V's and 6's) are packed Sardine-tight, allowing maximum climbing time and minimum fussing about — perfect for a couple of hour's intensive action, or giving a quick boost to your holiday route-tally.
Kuestelon la France: although actually home to Camarasa's most difficult routes (up to 8c+), this sector also boasts some very good 6's. The rock is superb and the climbing excellent, with routes like Tascones Lejanos (6a+, 25m),  Papaso Ninja (6b+, 15m), Fissura Garreta (6c, 23m), Où Vous Allez? (6c+, 23m) and Encantats de la Via (6c+, 18m) all worth doing.
La Pera: a superb sector formed by an impressive, twin-peaked pinnacle (‘La Pera’) lying just a few metres in front of the main wall of rock, with routes both on the inside face of the pinnacle and the main wall itself. When it comes to warm-weather climbing conditions the gap (3-5 metres) is crucial — not so close that it feels claustrophobic, or that the routes feel artificial because you could possibly reach out and touch the other side, but narrow enough to shut out the sun's rays for the best part of the day. On summer afternoons a cooling wind often blows through the gap, doubling the cooling effect. Of the thirty routes, all are worth doing, but in the grade-range discussed in this article Xixi Park (6a+ 22m), Dancing Trip (6b 25m), Second Life (6b+ 25m) and Mexico Lindo (6b+ 35m) are standouts.
Sectors Fashion & La Selva: these two adjoining sectors were developed as recently as 2006, but offer some of Camarasa's (and Lleida's) best climbing. Sector Fashion is typical of the zone — a dead- vertical wall with sharp pockets and small edges, the distribution of which is the only thing separating the grades. It's not a big cliff and consequently some of the 6's here are rather fierce for the grade, but the four routes on the right-hand side of the wall, Vittorio & Cochino (6a+ 18m), Trolex (6b 20m), Giorgio Amari (6b+ 20m) and Dolce & Marrana (6c 20m) provide excellent climbing at accurate grades. Note the names — word-plays on the names of major fashion houses: to understand the double meaning you'll need to learn a little Spanish and Catalan!
Cristina Ribosa on Viagra (6b),
Camarasa.
Nearby La Selva is an impressive and atmospheric sector, where a huge open cave stretching the full height of the crag dominates the scene. A few of the routes here are actually pretty hard (up to 8a+) but the best routes are mostly in the 6's: Michumi (6a+ 32m), Tensió Anal (6b, 32m), Pasión de Talibanes (6b+, 32m), Viagra (6b+ 32m), El Rei Louie (6b+ 35m) and Gorronya Kejorronya (6c, 32m) and more, are all brilliant — enough to keep the grade 6 warrior happy for several full days.
Crestes de Conill:  These splendid, narrow crests of rock are easily visible from the village of Camarasa, on the opposite side of the River Segre. There are several crests, but the area of particular interest to climbers is the south face of the first (on the left), providing excellent face climbing on perfect, near-vertical rock which, unusually for Camarasa, is at its best during the winter months. I've baked here in early January, whilst on the opposite side of the gorge the frost has barely lifted all day. A narrow ledge system runs mid-height along much of the cliff, and the half dozen, or so, V's and V+'s finish here. Continuing to the top of the wall (30m) means upping the ante slightly (6a — 6b+).  Virtually all the routes here are worth doing, but Plakistan (6a, 30m) and Yin (6a+, 30m) are two of the best. 

SANT LLORENÇ DE MONTGAI


Sant Llorenç de Montgai
Just 5 minutes down the road from Camarasa, this historic climbing area is (with the exception of the bouldering in El Cogul) the most southerly of Lleida's zones.
The crags are beautifully situated along the shores of a long, narrow lake, and while the rock is not 100% perfect throughout the zone, there’s certainly enough good stuff to keep the middle-grade climber happy for several days.
 
Climbers on pitch 3 of La Directa (6b), 
Sant Llorenç de Montgai.
If you're after short, one-pitch climbs with an approach measured in seconds rather than minutes, then Paret de l'Os is the place to go. That said, this south-facing roadside crag is home to some of the meanest grading in the region. Solo Amun (6c 20m) is a good example: this fine route — two bouldery bulges separated by an easy slab — was graded 6b in the 90's local guidebook; it was recently re-bolted and up-graded to 6c, but in reality it's probably very solid 7a! Mind you, the neighbouring routes of Kuasto Kuesta (6a 15m) and Nas Norxes (6a+ 15m) are both pleasant enough, and don't seem too harshly graded.
The multi-pitch routes here offer far more rewarding experiences for the practitioner of V's and 6's, with the likes of Isaac-Gabriel (V+, 6 pitches, 180m), Jordi Andreu (6a, 4 pitches 180m), Cristian Gutiérrez (6a+, 3 pitches 75m), La Directa (6b, 4 pitches, 95m) and Autopista al Infierno (6b+, 4 pitches, 100m) all providing highly enjoyable, if slightly adventurous climbing experiences.
Note: the multi-pitch climbs selected for inclusion in Lleida Climbs all have modern in-situ belays and protection (mostly parabolts), but may still feature occasional sections of less than perfect rock. Wear a Helmet!


CUBELLS
Emili Bou on 
Arnoleta (6b+), 
Cubells.
Seen from the main road these south-facing limestone walls, situated just north of the village of Cubells, appear far more impressive than their modest (up to 30m) height would suggest. The rock is generally vertical, giving technical climbing on small sharp holds, while the outlook, affording expansive views across the fertile plains of southern Lleida, is very pleasant indeed.
Of the nearly 70 climbs here, there are a dozen 5's and almost three times as many 6's, though as is typical with 'only' vertical rock, the grading can feel a little harsh at times. As for recommendations, take your pick, they're all pretty nice, though the trio of routes on the extreme left-hand side of the crag, Lo Patagon (6a, 15m), Lo Sibèria (6a+, 15m) and Raskakaska (6a, 15m) make a good starting point. Further right, past the impressively smooth walls of Placa Gran, with its 7's and 8's, lies sector Braille, where Arnoleta (6b+, 20m) is one of the classics of the crag.


SANTA ANA
The crags lying just below the Santa Ana reservoir are not actually in Lleida province (nor even Catalunya) but several hundred metres inside the neighbouring Spanish province of Aragon.
However, their close proximity to city of Lleida (capital of the province) means that Santa Ana has always been considered as the ‘local’ crag and so its inclusion, both in this article and the guidebook, transcends geographic niceties.


Les Agulles at Santa Ana, with a climber 
on Pionera (6b+).
Santa Ana’s fifteen separate sectors are home to more than 300 routes, with grades ranging from IV to 9a, but for the grade 6 practitioner there are three crags which stand head and shoulders above the rest — the south face of Les Agulles, the lower part of Paret del Vent, and the shaded walls of El Sendero.
Les Agulles is a magnificent group of pinnacles, whose south-westerly faces are home to some of the finest middle-grade climbing in the entire region. There are 25 routes, the majority lying between 6a+ and 6c, with virtually all being worth doing. Of particular note are: Planeta Gris (6a+ 35m), Pionera (6b+), Mejor que Bien (6b+ 45m!), Fals Advocat (6c 37m) and Niña Puñales (6b+ 37m) — all magnificent, long pitches on superb-quality rock.
Josep Maria Casals on Murisec (6c), Santana.
Just a few minutes away lies La Paret del Vent, offering around a dozen excellent climbs in our category, of which Tomatera (6a 20m) and Cradle Snatcher (6a+ 20m) are especially recommended. Slightly higher up the scale is Musgomanía (6c 30m) a superb and interesting pitch saving its hardest moves to the very end.
Across the river on the shady side of the gorge lies El Sendero — the perfect spot for warm summer afternoons, though it also catches morning sunshine in winter. The routes here start as low as IV+, but it’s the 6's which offer the best climbing. Unusually for limestone, El Sendero has some excellent crack lines, with Hippy (6a+, 25m), El Jardi dels Deus (6b+, 2 pitches, 37m) and Murisec (6c, 20m) all providing fine, strenuous challenges. 


LA PAUTA
Andrea Chlebova on Lapsus (6c), La Pauta.
A vertical wall of excellent-quality limestone, featuring smooth, compact faces split by powerful crack and groove lines, whose southerly orientation makes for superb mid-winter climbing. The situation — rolling, oak-forested hills — doesn't hurt either. La Pauta's history is rather unusual: the first people to develop the place, back in the late 1980's, were very accomplished climbers, and largely ignored the 'easy' crack and groove lines in favour of the much more difficult (mostly 7a-8a) faces in between. They also elected not to publish any information in magazines or guidebooks, instead preserving this 'secretivo' for a select group of 'word of mouth' friends. The result of this secrecy was that the crag gradually fell into disuse, and by the late 90's the routes were dirty again, and the approach paths had become completely overgrown and virtually impassable. Then in 2007, a group of friends from Lleida re-discovered the crag, clearing the paths again and cleaning and re-equipping the existing routes. In the course of this they also equipped and climbed the many 'easy' crack/groove lines between the older face routes, thus adding an excellent selection of 6b-6c+'s to the crag's repertoire. Nespresso (6b+ 30m), Alvalle del Gaspatxo (6b+ 30m), Lapsus (6c 30m), Mon Sense Fi (6c/+ 30m) and Malongo (6c/+ 30m) are all really fine routes, combining strenuous crack moves interspersed with some technical face and groove stuff.

OS DE BALAGUER & TARTAREU
The main cliff at Os de Balaguer with
climbers on Kin Matoa (6b+).






Owing to the variable quality rock, which ranges from absolutely perfect to distinctly dodgy, these two adjacent zones nestling in the pretty, undulating hills of the 'Serra de Sant Miquel' in the extreme west of Lleida province, cannot strictly be described as 'world class'.
However, collectively they offer a large number of 6's, all of which have been exceptionally well equipped with frequently spaced 10mm 'Parabolts', and it's amazing how solid an apparently dubious hold can feel when there's a nice, fat bolt right next to you!
Consequently 'Os' and Tartareu have become very popular, and judging by the foreign number plates on some of the parked vehicles one sees, it's not just the locals who approve.
Àngel Cogul on  
Si fas Fum no fas Grau (6a)
Tartareu.



The cliffs in Os de Balaguer are very pleasantly situated in a narrow gorge overlooking a bustling village of the same name, and with routes on both north and south sides of the gorge, climbing is possible throughout the year.
With so many 6's on offer it's hard to single out just a few, but the adjacent trio of L'Esperó del Nico (6b 25m), Kin Tostao (6a 25m) and Kin Matao (6b+ 25m) take separate lines up the most attractive piece of rock in the zone, while Aida (6b+ 25m) and El Ball del Vent (6c 25m) also offer interesting and varied climbing.
At nearby Tartareu the cliffs face predominantly east, making it a popular summer afternoon hangout for local climbers. Si Fa Fum no fas Grau (6a 24m), El Codi Da Vinci (6b+ 27m), El Pangol Free (6b+ 25m), Frenesí al Tambó (6a+ 16m), Emental Vertical (6b 17m) and Johny Babuchas (6b 17m) are just a few of the many enjoyable 6's spread along the crag.
 


Area 2
ÀGER
Above the town of Àger, extensive bands of limestone stripe the vast slopes of Montsec d'Ares. The amount of bare rock here (much of which is unclimbed) is truly staggering, but the areas of most interest for the purposes of this article are two recently developed sectors: Àger 300 and Barranc de Grillons.

Apadrina un Banquero (6c), 
Àger (Barranc de Grillons).
 Àger 300: this beautifully situated crag offers fine climbing on vertical and slightly overhanging walls. The rock is very smooth and compact, so much so that many of the routes here are way beyond the 6th grade (up to 8b+), though there's certainly enough for a few days' sport. The sector is at its best on a clear, sunny midwinters' day, when the lower cliffs in the region are often fog-bound (read 'Fog') and routes such as Esencia (6b+ 30m), Orejones (6b 30m), (6b+ 25m), Pussy Cat (6b+ 30m) and Super Ratón (6b+ 25m) provide excellent climbing.
Barranc de Grillons: although generally the same angle as '300', the rock here is far rougher and more featured, offering a multitude of sharp edges and in-cut pockets together with excellent frictional properties. Consequently the sector has a far higher proportion of 6's than its near neighbour, and the slabby right-hand side of the cliff even boasts some very pleasant IV's and V’s.
Most of the routes here are worth doing, but Anticrisis Crack (6a 30m), Buidasacs (6b 22m), A ne pas Rater (6b+ 35m), Apadrina un Banquero (6c, 40m) and Chaufee qui Peut (6c+ 38m) are arguably the best. Enjoy! 

TERRADETS
This mighty gorge of the River Noguera-Pallaresa is famous both for the multi-pitch routes on Paret de les Bagasses and Roca Regina, and the stunning high-grade sport-crag Paret de les Bruixes, but also offers some very fine one, two and three pitch grade V's and 6's, particularly on a section of Paret de les Bagasses known as Si fas Free no fa Fret ("if you do it free it's not cold").
Paret de les Bagasses, Terradets.
This particular wall, reaching 60m in height, is composed of superb quality limestone split by frequent horizontal breaks, though the friction on some of the older routes may not be quite what it was. On the higher left-hand side of the sector, a trio of classics Titus Màgic (V 55m, 2 pitches), Espai, Temps, Acte (V+ 65m, 3 pitches) and Txacu (6b 65m, 3 pitches) all offer excellent face climbing, while further to the right, the route which gave the sector its name Si fas Free no fas Fret (6b 38m), plus two more long, single-pitch climbs in the 6b-6b+ range (both unnamed — routes 15 and 16 in the Lleida Climbs topo) are also superb.
But if longer routes are your bag then it is the higher parts of Paret de les Bagasses which will demand your attention. This vast cliff, up to 500m high in places, is home to some 60 routes, with all but a couple lying between grades IV and 6c. The most popular climbs here are those located near the classic route Smoking, where half a dozen 200m-220m routes take in the best rock on the wall and finish at a convenient half-height ledge system (the 'falsa feixa') from which walking descents are possible. Apart from Smoking (6b [6a], 215m, 7 pitches), Joan Friexanet (6b [6a], 220m, 7 pitches) and
Oscar Oliver on  
Smoking (6b, 215m).

Colores (6b+ [6b], 215m, 7 pitches) are the other grand classics, each combining superb rock, engaging moves and formidable exposure. Don't be fooled by the modest grades: these climbs (as with many of Catalunya's super-classic multi-pitch routes) all date from the 1980's, a time when climbers were apparently far more comfortable on less than vertical rock than many of today’s indoor wall-trained 'athletes'. 25 years of polish doesn't particularly help either!
Rappel descents are possible for several of the routes, but if other parties are at work lower down the wall then just don't —the danger of dislodging loose blocks when pulling the ropes through is very high. Instead, carry a lightweight pair of trainers and descend via the ‘Falsa Feixa ledge system and subsequent path. As with all multi-pitch sectors, the wearing of helmets is strongly advised.
Note: the grades in square brackets represent the hardest 'obligatory' moves, i.e. those which cannot be aided, even if you want to). 


VILANOVA DE MEIÀ
Quite simply the best multi-pitch cragging in Catalunya, if not the whole of Spain.
Roca dels Arcs, Vilanova de Meià.
Roca dels Arcs, at over a kilometre in length and up to 200m high, undoubtedly takes pride of place, offering superb exposed climbing in a magnificent setting.  Necronomicón (6a [6a], 130m, 5 pitches), Rampes Invertides (6b [V+], 225m, 7 pitches, Tierre de Nadie (6b+ [6a], 175m, 6 pitches), El Somni de Quimfer (6b+ [6a], 160m, 4 pitches), Musical Exprés (6b+ [V+], 225m, 6 pitches) and El Señor de los Bordillos (6c+ [6b], 195m, 7 pitches) are all just about as good as it gets in multi-pitch sport-climbing, but one could double or even treble the list without any discernible drop in quality.
Nico Contreras on  
El Somni de Quimfer (6b+, 160m) 
Roca dels Arcs, Vilanova de Meià
Rappel descents are possible from many of the routes on RdA, but as with Paret de les Bagasses at Terradets, these should only be undertaken if you are absolutely 100% sure that no other teams are in action below — the danger of knocking off loose rocks when pulling the ropes through is simply too great a risk. Anyway, gaining the summit plateau then walking back down to the base of the wall makes a far more fitting conclusion to the day's climbing.

Sector Amatista, Vilanova de Meià










On opposite side of the gorge many of the bigger cliffs remain the preserve of the aid climber, though this probably has more to do with tradition than with the feasibility of actually freeing the routes. The one major exception is sector Amatista — a very attractive 100m high wall of blue-grey-streaked limestone which (according to the local guidebook) hosts eleven routes. Taking into account our selected grade range, and the requirement of good, modern protection, that number drops to just three, but what a trio!
Amatista (6a [6a], 120m, 5 pitches), Imágenes (6b+ [6b+], 95m, 4 pitches) and La Frontera (6c [6a+], 95m, 3 pitches) are all superb outings — perfect for a few hours’ action on a sunny afternoon.
Note: the grades in square brackets represent the hardest 'obligatory' moves, i.e. those which cannot be aided, even if you want to).

Àngel Arrabalí on pitch 3 of Imágenes (6b+, 95m), Vilanova de Meià.


COLLEGATS
Ariadna Pallé on 7e Cel (6a), 
Collegats.
Lying just 30km north of Terradets, the splendid gorge of Collegats is yet another example of the River Noguera-Pallaresa's creative powers. Big, impressive walls of limestone and conglomerate tower above the swirling waters, offering some of the most adventurous traditional routes (nuts/Friends/pegs required) in the whole of Catalunya. However, closer to earth the canyon also hosts some extremely fine single-pitch venues, of which sectors Cine, L'Argenteria and El Niu/Primer Vol are the best spots for V's and 6's.
Sector Cine (Collegats' earliest sport crag) is a south-facing conglomerate cliff up to 30m high offering a good selection of V's and 6's in a very pleasant setting. The rounded, blobby, pebble-like holds, typical of this type of rock, may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for those used to either gritstone or UK climbing walls, they shouldn't be too offputting. Recommended routes include Sesión Continua (6a, 20m), El Silencio del Cordero (6a, 30m), Arena y Libertad (6a, 30m) and Licencia para Escalar (6b, 25m). Rather tough grading!
A few miles up the canyon lies sector L'Argentería, taking its name from a beautiful and spectacular rock formation lying just across the river, whose water-worn curves and grooves are said to have been a major inspiration for the famous Barcelona architect Antoni Gaudí.
This south-east facing sector, at its best on spring and summer afternoons, offers only a limited number of routes in our grade range, but the lack in quantity is more than made up for in quality. Indeed, 7è Cel (6a, 32m) is one of the best routes of its grade in Lleida province — a superb corner/groove-line offering continually interesting climbing. Other fine routes include Raiverd (6b, 30m) and De Picnic (6b, 25m), while those looking for something a bit harder might enjoy getting to grips with the imposingly steep Sellui (6c+, 30m).


Sector El Niu, with a climber 
on Picarol (IV+).
El Niu&Primer Vol: the fictional newsline "16 new climbs between IV and 6b equipped on superb new crag in Collegats" used in the introduction to this article, actually refers to the development of El Niu ("The Nest"), an attractive slabby crag just up the road from L'Argentería, which somehow escaped the attentions of local climbers until as recently as Autumn 2009. It is now without doubt one of Collegats' most popular low/mid-grade sectors, offering a selection of excellent IV's and V's, as well as the odd 6. The best of these are probably the two routes (+ continuation pitches) on the right-hand side of the crag: climbed as a single long pitch, Picarol (IV+, 20m) and its extension Calabruix (6a+, 15m) is an excellent combination, as is Libertad d'Expansió (IV+, 16m) and its extension Bocamoll (6b, 20m), just to the left.
For those ready to quit the nest, nearby sector Primer Vol ("First Flight") offers a trio of fine steep pitches: Quin Rampell (6c, 30m), Sac de Gemecs (6c, 30m) and A Ulls Clucs (6c+, 30m).



Area 3
OLIANA
Vicky Rodriguez on  
Lent Trepar (6b),
Oliana.
To most climbers the name "Oliana" conjures up images of Chris Sharma battling away on some 9a+ mega-pump at sector Contrafort de Rumbau, but that's only a small part of the overall picture. The rest of this magnificent gorge holds far more for the climber of more modest aspirations, with one sector in particular, L'Obaga Negra, being especially recommendable. This vertical wall of compact limestone offers 19 routes of between 4c and 6c+, the best of which include Poca Feina (6a, 33m), Calcarius Deliciosus (6a+, 25m), Lent Trepar (6b, 25m) and Cuesta de Morte (6c, 33m). The crag faces southeast and this, combined with the proximity of some very big cliffs just behind, means winter visitors will need to make an early start to enjoy the best of the sun. On the other hand, summer afternoons and evenings can be surprisingly pleasant, while many nearby southwest-facing sectors bake through the hottest part of the day.

COLL DE NARGÓ
Together with nearby Perles, Coll de Nargó is amongst Lleida's finest low/middle-grade zones, offering numerous excellent single and multi-pitch climbs on superb quality rock. The different sectors are spread along an impressive crest of rock, dominating the hillside above the village, and the open aspect and southerly orientation makes the zone a perfect mid-winter suntrap.
Sector Coll Piqué, Coll de Nargó.
 The highest walls, just west of the main parking area at Coll Piqué, collectively form sector Paret del Grau, home to a selection of highly enjoyable 2, 3 and 4 pitch climbs, all with rappel descents, amongst which Àfrica (5b, 3 pitches, 90m), Esperó dels Maneirons (6b, 4 pitches, 100m), Montse (6c, 3 pitches, 70m) and No t'ho Perdis (6c+, 4 pitches, 100m) are all highly recommended.
Of the single-pitch sectors, the one with the highest concentration of V's and 6's is Coll Piqué: virtually all the 35 routes here in this grade-range are worth doing, but standouts include El Teorema d'en Marcel (5c, 30m), Kundalini (6b, 30m) and Ambient de Parapent (6b+, 30m), as well as a trio of fine but unnamed 30-35m, 6a/6a+ pitches (routes 25, 26 and 27 in Lleida Climbs).
Sector Del Mig is another crag worthy of attention, with a brace of two-pitch climbs, Pels Pels (5c, 50m) and Fisuteràpia (6a, 50m) joining the list of 'must-do' routes.

Perles, with Roc d'en Sola on the left of the picture.
PERLES
A beautiful zone in a stunning setting, hosting some truly brilliant 5th and 6th grade climbing, both single and multi-pitch. Pride of place goes to Roc d'en Solà, a fantastic wall of perfect limestone, where routes like Boixeres (5c, 22m), Noches de Bohemia (6a, 30m), Mac Gregor a su Pesar (6b, 40m, 2 pitches), Amistades Pelirrojas (6a, 90m, 4 pitches) and Tos de Gos (6c, 90m, 3 pitches) are all excellent. Just in front of the main wall a freestanding pinnacle, L'Agulla de l'Alba, offers a further selection of shorter but still fine routes, mostly in the 5b-6b range.
Isidre Escorihuela on  
Amistades Pelirrojas (6a), Perles.
A few minutes to the east, on the other side of the Col de Perles gap, lies Roc d'en Betriu, another fine if slightly less impressive sector. Here the routes are generally shorter than those on Roc d'en Solà, but the rock is just as good, and routes such as Mirador (5c, 30m), Traumuntana (6b, 25m), Sargantana Faluga (6c, 30m) and Sol Rogent (6c+, 28m) are unlikely to disappoint even the pickiest of visitors.




Area 4
CAVALLERS
The cliffs overlooking the Cavallers reservoir in the Catalan Pyrenees add yet dimension to Lleida climbing: mountain granite. This exceptional zone, situated within the beautiful Aigües Tortes National Park, offers a multitude of excellent single and multi-pitch sport climbs (though the longer routes often need a supplementary rack of Friends and wires).
Lisi Roig on Salam Alekum (6c),
Cavallers.
With a base altitude of around 1,800m, the rock climbing season in Cavallers is generally quite short — usually late spring to mid-autumn, and in common with many other mountain areas, afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon here — not funny if you happen to be caught on a long route. Even so, mid-summer temperatures can often reach levels sufficient to send climbers scurrying for the shade.
Of the sectors included in Lleida Climbs, Placa Xalmet and Pared Inerte have by far the most to offer 5th and 6th graders, and being situated on opposite sides of the reservoir, allow for a choice in orientations to suit prevailing weather conditions.
The west-facing Placa Xalmet is a superb steep (70-80°) slab, offering a fine selection of one and two pitch face climbs, where no amount of strength will overcome bad technique. Treking Pirineus (6b+, 35m), The Killing Moon (6b+, 35m), Cándidad Ingenuidad (6c, 30m) and L'Oveja Negra (6c+, 45m) are all excellent pitches, which will test your footwork to the utmost.
Jordi Alti on
Directa Americana (6b), 
Cavallers.
On the other side of the reservoir, the east-facing Pared Inerte is generally steeper, but (thankfully!) blessed with a few more positive hand and footholds, as well as some very spectacular cracks.
For me this is the best of Cavallers' sectors, and routes such as Pasions Quirúrgicas (6a+, 35m) Directa Americana (6b, 35m), Salam Alekum (6c, 35m) and La Babosa (6c+, 45m) are worth doing again and again.
In depth coverage of Cavallers' longer routes was beyond the remit of the Lleida Climbs guidebook (as it is of this article), but we did include a trio of classic ‘semi-sport’ routes on the magnificent 4th tower of Agulles de Comalestorres, as a taster: El Pistacho Asesino (6a [6a], 235m, 7 pitches), Blues (6a+ [6a], 235m, 7 pitches) and Dentrometidos (6b+ [6a], 230m, 6 pitches) are all stupendous outings — worthy of a trip in their own right.
Although all three routes feature in-situ bolt belays, as well as bolt runners on the blanker sections of rock, the local guidebook recommends a supplementary rack of Friends and wires for additional protection.
I’ve personally only done Dentrometidos (which was fantastic) and although we carried some trad gear, I'm not sure we actually used any, though it could well be a different story on the other two routes, both of which follow more obvious crack and groove systems.
Each of these three routes represents the very best that Cavallers has to offer: superb rock, excellent climbing and magnificent scenery. Shame about the approach — a 1-1/4 hour steep slog up from the valley — and this, together with the aforementioned possibility of afternoon storms, means an early start is strongly recommended (and take a jacket!).
Note: the grades in square brackets represent the hardest 'obligatory' moves, i.e. those which cannot be aided).

Andy Hyslop on the first pitch of Dentrometidos (6b+, 230m), Cavallers.

Area 5
EL COGUL
Marina Solé bouldering in El Cogul
The last stop on our tour is a bouldering area of growing international repute — El Cogul. Situated in the extreme south of Lleida province, this zone is also within reasonable driving distance of many of the Tarragona climbing areas (Siurana, Margalef etc.) and well worth considering if the weather takes a turn for the worse, particularly when the occasional gale-force winds make climbing on the higher crags unpleasant.
There are hundreds of boulders and thousands of problems, the fine-grained sandstone a delight to climb on and very easy on the skin.
Recommendations: have fun!