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Jeremy coming up on pitch one of the Lady in Black E1 5b

 

Last week I headed down to the Anti Atlas mountains with Jeremy from Climb Morocco, to an area also known as Tafraout/Jebel El Kest for some multi-pitch trad climbing. Temperatures are rising now here in Morocco (thankfully still not too much here in the High Atlas) but we managed to fit in this one last trip before it gets really too hot.

 

And what a trip it was! We headed to the valley known in the guidebooks as Samazar Valley which is on the north side of the Jebel El Kest area and set up camp for our three-day trip below The Waterfall Walls.

 

 

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Waterfall Wall (left) and Aylim (right)

 

Our main reason for choosing this valley was the fact that it boasts some of the biggest walls in the area with a number of the routes, such as Labyrinth Ridge on Aylim (the Great Rock), reaching up to 800m.

 

It is also an area that sees much less climbing traffic than others due to the access being only via a dirt road but even despite this, it’s so worth a visit for a trad climbing adventure. Once you have negotiated the road, there is still great access to the routes themselves from the piste with walk-ins as short as 10 minutes, along with a plethora of high quality quartzite walls.

 

After arriving around 1.00 in the afternoon from Marrakech, we started on The Flatiron buttress, climbing First Up E1 5a, a 230m route. The top pitches were brilliant – good, clean rock and incredible views of the valley.

 

 

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View from the Flatiron buttress – route First Up E1 5a

 

 

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The Flatiron

 

Then after a night under the stars we tackled The Pimple buttress the following morning, climbing Lady in Black E1 5b, 200m. The route was fantastic with a steeper section in the middle that was good fun However, the descent was not so straightforward.

 

 

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James leading first pitch on Lady in Black E1 5b

 

 

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Jeremy leading on pitch two of Lady in Black E1 5b

 

The guidebook warns about vegetation on the eastern gully descent, and we found it impossible to descend through the deep, thick vegetation without cutting ourselves to pieces on the thorny bushes. So for a better descent follow the guidebook’s instructions for the 20m abseil off the top and then go down the opposite gulley (western) which leads to the trailhead. Go right at the trail, which then leads you along and below The Pimple buttress back down to the road!

 

After a short rest in the afternoon we got on the massive Aylim buttress (The Great Rock) and climbed a 3 star E1 5b route called Delirium, 325m. The route was awesome as the crux pitches came in the middle and top of the route… serious exposure.

 

 

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View from the top of Delirium E1 5b

 

The next day we went back to The Pimple, glad to know the safer descent route, and we climbed Agent Orange E2 5b, 140m. The crux pitch on this route was the one off the ground – technical and strenuous climbing but well worth the battle.

 

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Jeremy leading the crux pitch on Agent Orange E2 5b

 

The guidebook we used from our trip was the two-set volume Tafraout – Rock climbing in the Anti-Atlas by Steve Broadbent, published by Oxford Alpine Club. Take a look at my review of the books here. Also, in the last year the publisher has released pocket guides with selected top routes for the areas, which are definitely worth purchasing for weight saving whilst climbing the classics!

 

The heat of the summer sun in the south of Morocco makes this area out bounds for the next few months but from October to the end of April, it’s a climber’s paradise. Contact us for more information about our multi-pitch guided trips and let us introduce you to the awesome rock.

Categories: Anti-Atlas, Blog, Jebel El Kest, Morocco, Tafraout, Trad
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