In accordance with the monthly plan of Long walks that we do every second Saturday of the month, the past day 10.12.05 we did the Long walk from Santpou to Masies of Nargó, ascending the Channel of Jaça.

We were altogether 9 members in the expedition: 3 from Barcelona, 1 from Cordoba, 1 from Ciudad Real, 1 from Venezuela, 1 from Poland and two Russian boys. The day was bright and luminous, typical of the winter, with wind from the north and a radiating sun.

As the News announcement of this Long Walk said, the channel is clean and signed and can be journeyed perfectly by experienced mountain people. The total route can be done in 6 hours: less than three to ascend the channel of Jaça from Santpou, and also less than three to descend from the summit of Aubenç to Masies of Nargó. On the hill of Aubenç we rested one hour, eating something, and contemplating the magnificent landscape.

The ascent of the channel, from Santpou, is about 530 meters, and the descent to the Masies de Nargó, is around 900 meters.

aubens2

We enclose two descriptions, in journal format, of the ascent of this channel the way two of the members of the expedition completed it.

We must say that we think these descriptions are a little exaggerated, surely due to the conditions in which they ascended it, or because they could have left the corral that goes up the channel in some sections and have climbed up the rocks out of the marked route. Only the end of the channel can cause a little sense of vertigo.

On the other hand we are completely sure that they ascended along this channel, because from Espluga de les Vaques there is no quicker way, and also because that is what the guide of the expedition, Josep Cirera, as well as Josep Boix of Juncàs, who also was at Ribalera on that same day- 28.11.37.-, have told us.

a) Description of Antoni Dalmases.

“We cannot stop because it is getting dark, and we are at the bottom of the cliff that has to be climbed, and it necessary to do it with daylight, as otherwise we would kill ourselves in the attempt. Its height is enormous and from its foot, where we are now, it seems impossible to climb up. Soon we stop winding around it to face it directly, grabbing the rocks. We no longer walked, we crawled. The ascent is very laborious and slow dragging ourselves along the rock in order not to fall. More than ever I feel the weight of my backpack that pulls on my back to throw me to abyss. We stopped many times to rest, almost hanging from the rock, faced to the sky and the mountains that can be discerned from far away. Again we go up along this almost vertical route. We feel that we would never reach the top. The light is already very little and this makes the ascent more laborious and difficult. It’s horrifying to think what could happen if one slipped a little; surely death would be the result. We sweat like hell and in our eagerness to hold on to the rocks we don’t hesitate to ruin our hands.

When at last after one hour and a quarter, which however feels a century long, we reach the summit, without speaking we lie down on the ground. As the following ones arrived, they immediately fall, more than lie down, to the ground. In spite of the darkness, the panorama that can bee seen is magnificent. We see half of Catalonia. This is a unique viewpoint.

We resumed the march already in full night. Always towards the North. We are now on fields of grass with soft undulations that alleviate our feet. The guide spreads the word, which passes from one to another silently, commanding us to raise our canes and to not speak, as we pass close by to a house.

We left the meadows quietly and entered the forest. The darkness is so great that one does not see more ahead than the silhouette of the companion who walks one step ahead; later on we have to grab each other by the canes so that we don’t get lost. We stop once every hour for a few minutes to rest and to drink or, better said, to wet our mouths. As one does not see where one places his feet, they are placed badly and they hurt and they are bruised terribly… ”

b) Description of Miguel Fisac.

“It is mid afternoon of the 28th. We began the first day with the guide who will take to us to Andorra, who, one has to say, is very efficient fulfilling his duty; he orients himself with an amazing easiness and on this and all the rest of the days we haven’t seen one act of hesitation .

The first thing we have to do is the ascent of a very high hill, that turns out to be really tough as we can’t use paths and because of having to climb during some moments on almost vertical rocks and often on a third part of the foot: Implausible cliffs, short breaks, as we have to have reached the top before night; if we don’t suffer from vertigo it’s because one just can’t keep busy think about these things, as there are more than enough reasons.

It was getting dark when we finished ascending.

The march is resumed, after a break of a few minutes: the route is a lot smoother: sometimes the silhouettes stand out in the already starry sky, deformed by the backpacks and the blankets, that causes a mixed impression of tragedy and mystery. We cross flooded areas: there are no trees, nor shrubs; only a strong grass rustles; to ours step, a dog barks as we go along.

We are in land somewhat full of trees, the humidity continues: some slips, falls, and tripping over branches and trunks of trees that we find on our way: an almost total darkness that makes very difficult to distinguish and to follow the one who walks ahead.”