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Montserrat - the aesthetics of a unique creation of nature with a slight romanticism of the events of the distant past

A compact rock mass, consisting of bizarre conglomerate sculptures, is located only in 10 kilometers east of Barcelona, has a name of Montserrat - which translates from Catalan as “Ragged mountains”

Rock teeth of Montserrat - a unique natural rock formation close to Barcelona
Rock teeth of Montserrat - a unique natural rock formation close to Barcelona

Here the gloomy silent giants gathered as for some secret meeting, and so they froze in time. Or maybe they just dozed off for a couple of millennia, lost in their dreams of the immomerable past.

The Montserrat cliffs are a popular rockclimbing destination
The Montserrat cliffs are a popular rockclimbing destination

The legend of Montserrat is rooted in the deep past of Spain, in the times of the fierce battles of the Romanesque tribes with the Moors, who tried to conquer the entire south of Europe and expand the influence of Islam far beyond the borders that existed at that time. From this dark time, history brought to us the echoes of distant events in the form of beautiful fairy tales and romantic legends. Most of which of course, are fiction...

But the very fact of the birth of any legend has its roots in some historical event, which was encrypted during the many centuries into the beautiful images of an old fairy tale...

The rocky fingers of Montserrat comb through the clouds
The rocky fingers of Montserrat comb through the clouds

The army of the Catalan prince Iver was attacked by the Islamic horde in the most unfortunate place for the battle - grasped between the swampy lowland of the Obregat River and the base of the rocky fingers of the Montserrat massif - at that time it was considered the habitat of mysterious creatures - Serres, who allegedly had power over stone and could turn themselves into a stone sculptures. As befits such a mysterious place, access for people to it was closed - none of those who, out of stupidity or courage, decided to disturb the peace of the Serres, never returned back to the people.

Rockclimbing on the slabs of Montserrat requires perfect balance and good climbing technique
Rockclimbing on the slabs of Montserrat requires perfect balance and good climbing technique

The outcome of the battle seemed obvious - the Islamic army was many times more numerous than the defenders of the Catalan land, so it was almost no chance of victory. Three messengers were sent to report of the imminent bloody battle to the royal residence of Bars, to warn the town inhabitants of the impending threat. They had very little time - to get to the city, the runners had to go around the ominous stone slums of Monserrat - a task almost impossible - the distance was too great and the town would inevitably have been subjected to an unexpected attack. Two messengers ran around and died from exhaustion, never reaching the goal. And the youngest, named Herom, made his mind for a desperate act. He decided to try to go straight through the rocky teeth of Moserrat - a desperate undertaking, but there were no other ways to avoid a huge disaster - the count went on for minutes.

Battle of the Ivers with the Moors
Battle of the Ivers with the Moors

At the sunset, the troops stood in the battle formation - the detachment of Prince Iver was squeezed between rocks and a swamp and was preparing for its last battle - with no chance of salvation - the enemy was numerous and merciless.

Then suddenly something happened that changed the outcome of the battle in seconds, even before it began. The astonished warriors of the both sides watched in silence as the rock sculptures, colored by the crimson light of the sunset, began to move. Slowly and inexorably, rock giants moved to help the defenders of their native land, and in the van-guard of the stone army was the same messenger Herom, who, with his selfless courage, aroused the sympathy of the rock monsters. This sight threw the attackers into awe and they disorderly flee.

The incredible defeat of the Islamic army led to the subsequent flight of the entire horde, the war changed its course and soon the invaders were defeated and expelled from Catalonia.

Rocks of Montserrat - an amazing natural formation
Rocks of Montserrat - an amazing natural formation

No one saw Herom after this battle, but at the foot of the rock sculptures, a few years later, the shepherds found a strange stone in the shape of a heart, surrounded by thickets of rose hips blooming with scarlet flowers. This place was considered as the place of death of the brave young man, where he sacrificed his own heart to the King of the Serra tribe, in exchange for the protection of his comrades.

His sacrifice was accepted and forever remained embodied in stone. And also, in a beautiful bouquet of strange legends that local old people like to tell, sitting by the hot fireplace at night.

Tongues of flame eat fragrant juniper twigs, and outside the window the sunset draws amazing pictures on the tops of the rock columns, turning them into the heads of those fantastic Serres that came to life in order to win the decisive battle for the freedom of this land.

Sunset on the rocks of Montserrat
Sunset on the rocks of Montserrat

In the depths of Montserrat, away from the main tourist routes, there is a rock that bears the name of the young man who, according to legend, decided to sacrifice his life and convey the important message, overcoming what was considered insurmountable in those days. Surprisingly, after many centuries, his name remained in an unofficial, but very important part of the history of Spain - in its fairy tales. And not far from this rock you can find the monastery of Montserrat, founded in the 11th century and which has come down to us in its almost unchanged state - extremely calm, peaceful and clean place.

Now Montserrat is a beautiful piece of wilderness just half an hour drive from Barcelona. Montserrat is a place of rest for a huge number of people who are practicing a variety of activities - walking, running, climbing, just being outdoors on the fresh air.

Sunset on the rocks of Montserrat
Sunset on the rocks of Montserrat

However, despite the very positive and relaxed background of this popular location, something fantastic emanates from this place, echoes of the events of ancient times have not left this mysterious labyrinth of rock giants. Try to walk here at sunset, on a clear evening, at the very beginning of the night twilight. At this moment, time becomes transparent and the events of mysterious past feel as if they have just happened. And the rocks of Montserrat hang over head with their crimson fangs, just like in the days of ancient battles and valiant victories of the past.

Author of the text and photos - Alex Trubachev
Your professional guide to the rock climbing and mountaineering routes in Spain, France and Italy


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AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.