The channels on the north slope of Montserrat

Despite the beautiful north face of Montserrat looks unassailable at first sight, astonishing channels climb it. The main channels achieve the ridge and limit mountain portions that are named serrats. Actually there are channels in the whole entangled geography of Montserrat and in the massif of Sant Llorenç del Munt, Montcau i serra de L’Obac. However, the channels of the north face of Montserrat are more tilt, parallel and repeated. Several channels are popular amongst hikers because they host paths; from west to east these are the channel of the Miracle, Font de la Llum (spring of the Light), Sant Jeroni or Santa Cecília, Avellaners (= Hazel trees), Arítjols (= Sarsaparillas) –sometime written as Arínjols, more difficult and equipped with ropes- and Plana (= Plain) –that’s not plain at all

The pictures display two well known channels: the 1st one the channel of Sant Jeroni or Santa Cecília, either the name comes from its top or its bottom; the 2nd one the channel of font de la Llum, between the horns of Talaia and Ecos, that joins the channel of Migdia (= Midday) that arrives from the south in the pass of Migdia. The channels of Migdia and font de la Llum altogether split the massif of Montserrat in two halves, occidental and oriental.

Trees which are not easily found in main part of district of Bages grow in the fresh channels of the north slope of Montserrat: the yew (Taxus bacatta), the holly (Ilex aquifolium), the maple (Acer opalus), the white beam (Sorbus aria), the hazel tree (Corylus avellana) and, scarcely, the lime tree (Tilia platyphyllos) and the wych elm (Ulmus glabra). The diversity of trees and the abundance of yew and holly outstands the main role of the channels of Montserrat as a refuge of vegetation. The deciduous trees that show up mostly in autumn in the channels sprinkle the green oak woods that spread along Montserrat. The forest fires in years 1986 and 1994 and the landslides after the heavy rain in Montserrat in 10.06.2000 damaged specifically the trees of the channels; nevertheless, the finicky impact of the global warming in the last decades can be worse to them.

Again, the Montserrat skyrace goes up through the channel of Santa Cecília. There is an obvious attraction of the channel. However, we disagree on that decision because the channel is narrow and unstable, because there is risk of runners throwing away accidentally stones over the ones that are down and because the channel of Santa Cecília hosts a particular vegetation of yew trees, holly trees, maples, lime trees, white beams, hard shield-ferns… -one reason for Montserrat being Natural Park- that galloping runners can damage.

[photos Jordi Badia]