Pedraforca is a monumental piece of stand-alone rock in Catalonia and means “stone pitchfork”. It´s also one of the most beautiful mountains in Spanish Pyrenees. Follow my tips and experiences to enjoy this difficult, but rewarding day hike. Climbing Pedraforca will remain in Your memory for a long time after the return.
Download GPS file with points and route to Your device HERE
The complete gallery from climbing Pedraforca
Introduction to climbing Pedraforca
The Pedraforca is located in Cadí-Moixeró natural park. Two parallel ridges are appearing as two main summits. The southern peak Pollegó Inferior (2444m) and the northern Pollegó Superior (2506m) which is the main peak. From town Saldes it can appear very hard to ascent. Actually the truth is that the ascent to Pollegó Inferior leads up in that scary eastern face.
Pedraforca is indisputably one of the most famous mountains in Catalonia. Thanks to its limestone vertical faces which are attracting many serious rock climbers. Despite many trekkers are reaching both summits every year it´s not considered as an easy ascent. Get ready to spend approximately 11 kilometers as well as 5-7 hours in rough terrain.
Best time to visit
Generally, the mountain is accessible all year long. In wintertime usually from December to the end of April, the snow can make the ascent bit more difficult. The best time to visit is in summer. From May to October, You will have most of the time perfect weather. Sometimes can be too hot to hike. The Rain is very unusual in this area, but the highest precipitation is in May and October. Besides the weather the best to visit out of the national holidays and weekends. The area is very close to Barcelona and can be often crowded.
- Airplane – The closest and the most convenient air connection into Barcelona which is only 150 km far from here.
- Bus – There is a bus connection from Barcelona to Berga (2 hours). You can also find a connection from Berga to Saldes or Gósol (1 hour).
- Car – The easiest way to reach Pedraforca. From Barcelona, it´s just two hours of a scenic ride just under the Pedraforca.
- Hotels – There are few in villages Macaners, Saldes and Gógol. Book well in advance as in peak season can be sold out.
- Camping – Also plenty of official public campsites in the valley under the peak.
- Refuge – There is one staffed hiker´s hut. REFUGI LLUÍS ESTASEN is just under the main peak close to the road.
- Campervan – You can park and stay overnight just at the parking where the trail starts at the Mirador Gresolet.
- Free camping – Is generally forbidden, but if You bivouac and wake up early in the morning I don´t expect any problem.
Preparations for climbing Pedraforca
Fortunately, access to the park is completely free. Therefore You don´t need any permits. Many guides are offering assisted ascent, but if You are confident mountaineer I´m sure you can do it on your own. Good, stable shoes and some of the warmer clothes are essential. You will not meet any restaurants, so take with You at least a little bit of food. There is NO natural source of water on the way during climbing Pedraforca! I had with me “only” 1 liter and it was not enough. In order to not dehydrate yourself take at least 1,5 liter per person or more. You will also need a map of the area or GPS with my track and points (as shown on the map above).
There are many routes leading to both summits, so You can go only to one of them, but to take this peak seriously You have to definitely ascent both summits. You can choose to climb the marked route clockwise or anti-clockwise. The first option is far more difficult because You will have to descent on pretty difficult sections. Hiking the route anti-clockwise You will ascent the most difficult sections which are in my eyes safer to go up.
Anyway, for both options, the best starting point is the small parking lot on the east side of the mountain. You will also find here a nice viewpoint “Mirador de Gersolet”. This parking lot is a good place for overnighting in a campervan as I did, and there were other three campers with me.
Refugi Lluís Estasen and Balcó de la Joaquima
Just a few meters below the parking lot is a narrow path leading You to the Refuge. It´s not more than one pleasant kilometer in wood and You will appear at Refugi Lluís Estasen. This is also a cozy climber´s hut, where You can spend a night. There is a water source around the hut. Be careful that´s the only water source on the route, so replenish Your bottles before you set off!
From the Refuge follow the path south under the main face of Pedrafora. The leveled path will soon reach the crossroads of tourist paths. From here You have a choice to skip the south summit Pollegó Inferior. You can follow the steep scree to the pass Enforcadura from where You can go directly to the main summit.
If you want to fully enjoy, I strongly encourage You to follow the path “Camí de Pollegó Inferior”. Soon the path will turn to climb between roots and stones until You reach the “Balcó de la Joaquima”. You will love this place as it´s a first tree-free spot. Use this place to look around you, refresh and take a fresh breath You will need it!
From the Balcó de la Joaquima the real climbing Pedraforca starts! You will have to climb to the south summit directly on the south face of Pedraforca. Yes, the one which looked so inaccessible from the far, but don´t be worried it´s nothing serious. You can easily take here Your kids as it´s pretty easy ascent. You may encounter Pyrenean goats or marmots if You´re lucky. During the entire ascent, You will receive a wonderful outlook. You may see as far as to Montserrat near Barcelona.
It over 600 elevation meters from the balcony to the Pollegó Inferior, but the summit in 2444 meters is absolutely rewarding. Great views to the opposite main summit which appears so close. Don´t get confused! Unfortunately, there is no “normal” route to descent to the pass and continue to Pollegó Superior. There is still some distance and elevation to cover. Enjoy 360 degrees views to the valley and to the range Serra del Cadí get ready to descent.
Descending via Grand Diagonal – the scary part
Descending over 400 meters via Grand Diagonal is maybe something you have to worry about, but not much. There are a couple of sections, where You need to hold yourself with hands and use a bit of climbing technic. Therefore next time I´d rather go in the opposite direction. Nevertheless, some sections has chains and metal steps to help. With a little caution, You will make it. Isn´t the adrenaline rush the reason why we are doing this? Super high south limestone face of Pollegó Inferior is a must-see, so don´t even think to bypass this section!
After you finalize the descent climbing section take a rest and relax! You´ve survived and nothing worse is not waiting for You anymore. Be calm 🙂
There is again a section to ascent. I haven´t really seen any obvious path, but there are some colored marks to lead you. Firstly you need to ascent in a pine forest on the ridge leading back to Pollegó Inferior, but don´t get confused. It´s indeed a wonderful wald with a great hole next to you but stop on time. You will have to traverse to another vertical ridge. You may be thinking Well how do I pass if there will be another drop, but the reality is better.
After the traverse, You will reach wide route PR C-123 leading you comfortably to a pass You´ve probably seen from the first summit. From the pass Enforcadura, You have to turn left and then it´s around 30 minutes to the summit. Enjoy the Catalonian flag and another 360 degrees reward!
The descent back to the Parking
Don´t worry there is nothing again line Grand Diagonal descent, but also don´t be too relaxed. The descent is not really so straightforward. You have to follow the ridge west and it´s not so obvious paths. Use common sense and follow the ridge. There are a few ups and downs on the way. If YOu are worried to lose the way download the GPS file with my track and points HERE. It´s loadable to any GPS device or phone and can help You with navigation.
In approximately 30 minutes, the path turns right and descends steeply down. The descent is quite easy but sometimes supported by chains, which in my eyes are not really necessary. You will soon reach the pass Coll del Verdet. From there it´s “only” 800 meters descent, so prepare your knees to scream. I´ve done it in 45 minutes by running. I expect to cover this distance from the pass to the parking lot in 1 hour. You can stop on the refuge on the way back or to descent directly to the gravel road and follow it to the parking lot.
Farewell to climbing Pedraforca
It´s really very satisfying day hike and I strongly recommend to everyone searching for an adventure. You can go pretty light, but as I said many times take enough water with you. In summer the place can be very hot and it took me over 5 hours to cover the distance. Also, keep safe and be aware of technical sections for some people can be challenging, so rather go in the group to support each other while climbing Pedraforca.
Have You found anything to improve? Do You want to add any info, or just share your experience? Write to me, or leave the comment below.