Review: Via Ferrata in Sant Feliu de Guixols
Doing a Via Ferrata (Klettersteig) has been on my bucket list for years. As a kid, I loved climbing up trees, rocks and ropes. But as adult, I barely made it to a handful of indoor rock climbing walls.
Rock climbers in Catalonia inspired me in recent weeks and so I set out to climb with a friend on a Sunday in late May. It was the first time for both of us. We are both outdoorsy but by no means experts in mountain sports.
After quite a bit of online research and through word of mouth from climbing locals I learned that the Via Ferrata “Cala del Moli” is easy enough for beginners and offers great views of the Costa Brava.
How to get to the Via Ferrata in Sant Feliu de Guixols
It is located in the village of Sant Feliu de Guixols, about 1h30min drive north of Barcelona. There is direct bus by Moventis/Sarfa from Estacio de Nord in Barcelona. From the bus station in Sant Feliu de Guixols it is about a 30min walk.
You first go through the town, past the monastery. Then you can walk along the beach and finally a short bit of the Cami de Ronda trail that goes all the way along the coast.
How to get a guide and equipment
Many companies offer guided climbing tours that include gear rentals, pictures taken throughout the day and insurance. After even more online research I decided to go with Aventura Girona. I am picky when it comes to customer service, given my background in hospitality.
And I was so impressed with this company! They offer several ways to book on their website, even a whatsapp number. I had made the plan to try the Via Ferrata on the Costa Brava at 7pm the night before, so I texted on the whatsapp number. Within a half hour I had a response with all the info I needed.
It said where to meet, where to park, how much it would be (we paid 30 Euros each), the name of the guide and his cell phone number. I confirmed within the hour and we were officially booked. Our guide, Francesc, was wonderful.
On the day of the climbing tour he was at the meeting point about 5 minutes ahead of time. You learn to appreciate those things after living in Spain for a while. He sent me a text to say he was there. But I had already seen him, as he was easy to recognize, wearing a shirt with the logo of the company that I remembered from the Aventura Girona’s whatsapp profile picture.
What to expect when climbing the Via Ferrata
He speaks fluent Spanish, Catalan and English, which was perfect for our multinational group of six. After we signed the waiver and data protection form, he took us to get our gear. Everybody received a helmet and a harness with carabiner hooks. For those who didn’t bring their own, he offered gloves as well.
Franscesc made sure the equipment was fitted correctly and gave a short briefing about what to take on the via ferrata and what to leave in the vehicle. You want to try to bring as little weight as possible in a small backpack. Bring water, especially if it is hot. You will be out there for a while.
The guides take pictures throughout the day so you do not have to worry about keeping a phone or camera handy.
We made our way to the start of the via ferrata Cala del Muli and didn’t have to queue. Later on I learned that in the summer there are days when it gets really busy and there is a line to even start the activity. On those days completing the climb can take 6 hours.
On our overcast Sunday it took about 3h30min and even that felt long. We had to wait quite a bit for people ahead of us to move along. But Francesc showed us a resting position, where you hook a carabiner to a steel bar on the rock and get to lean back. It is rather comfortable and offers great views!
What the Cala del Moli is like
You climb with your feet and legs and use your hands for balance. At all times you are hooked by two carabiner hooks to a steel cable that is bolted to the rock. I felt very safe. But then, I am not afraid of heights.
After the first part of the Via Ferrata there is an escape route for those who do not wish to complete it. Anybody who feels umcomfortable doing the easier part, does not have to complete the second, more challenging part. And we saw several people, who left the climb at that spot. There is no shame in acknowledging that it is not for you, it takes courage.
Once you start the second part, you have to finish it, there is no way back. There were fewer people on the second part, so it was faster. The entire via ferrata is rated K2 (on a scale from easy K1 to very difficult K6).
On some parts, your feet will be on the granit rock, sometimes on steel bars. Same goes for your hands, but mostly there are metal handle bars or chains to grab. Suspension bridgets connect one rock formation with the next. You will have to climb up and down ladders and along vertical walls.
How hard is it to climb the via ferrata in Sant Feliu de Guixols
Plenty of bars along the way offer opportunities to hook in for the resting position. So there is no need to tire out your arms and hands. Sometimes, you can even sit down on a rock and rest your legs too.
On a few occasions, you will climb around a rock. Hence, you won’t see what is around the corner, making the experience a bit more thrilling. Francesc took excellent care of the group and was attentive to individual needs. He knew from asking at the beginning who had done rock climbing before and who was a newbie to the sport.
When a tricky part of the via ferrata came up, he made sure to give detailed instruction on where to put hands and feet. At one steep ladder, he secured group members using an extra rope he brought to give them more peace of mind.
What are the benefits of climbing with a guide
Along the way, he would alternate between climbing at the beginning and the end of the group, depending where his guidance was needed. Having overcome some physical and mental challenges, the group was in great spirits when we finished climbing.
After we returned our equipment, Francesc offered cold drinks. And so we hung out a while having beers and juice, talking about outdoor actitivies in Catalonia. Turns out, Aventura Girona also offers other sports, some I had never heard of before: Water trekking, Canyoning and Coasteering.
Final thoughts on the Via Ferrata in Sant Feliu de Guixols
I had a fantastic time, was super happy with the tour company and guide. The via ferrata itself is in excellent condition, well maintained and clean. I can highly recommend doing it. If you have the option, do it on a weekday, when there are fewer people.
Now, I can hardly wait to try out the next activity… I am hearing great things about canyoning!
Thanks so much for this review!
Never done it – anywhere (Via Ferrata nor rock climbing) but plenty of camping, hiking, trekking and overall outdoor experience.
My second trip to Spain, I’ll be there mid-September to October and think I will do this weekday combined with a trip to Girona… and definitely with a guide.
Thanks again for sharing your experience.
With your outdoor experience, a via ferrata sounds like just the kind of thing that you would enjoy. Have a fantastic trip to Spain and so much fun climbing along the Costa Brava!