Category Archives: Sport climbing

Sport Climbing in Taghia & Zawiya Ahansal

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Taghia 2014

 

It was great to get out in May to the eastern High Atlas to recce Taghia, a world-class big wall and multi-pitch sport climbing area. The trip was a quick hit to get a handle on the area so we spent just three days there and got on a couple of routes. We are already planning to go back with so much good rock to enjoy. Check out the following article on Taghia to get your climbing stoke up and the basic info you need for your trip!

 

www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2008

 

Whilst out there, Jeremy, Jay and I ran across Alex Honnold and Kris Erickson, both professional North Face athletes. Jay and I went back later in the month to visit Kris in Zawiya Ahansal (ZA), the collection of villages which are the striking point for Taghia.

 

 

Jeremy, Jay, and me with and Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold, me, Jeremy and Jay

 

We spent a day and a half with him to get “the tour” of the single pitch sport climbing venue that Kris has developed. You can see the crag from his village but it’s about a 40 minute approach to get on these quality sport routes.

 

Here are the topos from Kris for the single pitch sport climbing in ZA. As you will see, the routes start at French 5+ and go up to 8b! So plenty to have a go on.

 

 

Secotr Aghanbou-n-Bouarragh, Zawiya Ahansal

Sect0r Aghanbou-n-Bouarragh, Zawiya Ahansal

 

Sector Azrou-N-Sidi, Aguddim, Zawiya Ahansal

Sector Azrou-N-Sidi, Aguddim, Zawiya Ahansal

 

And here is Kris’ blog on the new routing that went on earlier this year:

 

http://neverstopexploring.com/2014/04/21/kris-erickson-sam-elias-new-routing-morocco/

 

Kris and his family are based in ZA full time and for more information on their community development work in the High Atlas of Morocco check out their websites.

 

http://atlasculturalfoundation.org/

http://atlasculturaladventures.com/

 

We do not currently offer trips in Taghia or ZA but if you are looking for a qualified rock guide for your time in the area then look no further than Kris. He knows the area very well and has been climbing there for years. For more information on his story check out these articles:

 

http://adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com/2014/04/03/morocco-climbing-and-cultural-preservation-in-the-high-atlas/

 

For contacting Kris for guiding:

Email: kristofferjerickson@gmail.com

 

Jay on pitch 3 of Belle et Berber, TD+, 300m, 6b+.

Jay on pitch 3 of Belle et Berber, TD+, 300m, 6b+.

 

Categories: Blog, Climbing Information, High Atlas, James, Morocco, Sport climbing
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Climbing Guidebook Marrakech Region

 

Climb Morocco Mini Guide Cover for Ain Belmusk

Climb Morocco Mini Guide for Ain Belmusk

 

Climbing Guidebook for the Marrakech Region

 

Over the years, I have enjoyed sport climbing in an area about and hour and half north of Marrakech called Ain Belmusk. The location is pretty remote but is beautiful and boasts some great sport routes from French 4+ to 7a.

 

Climb Morocco has produced a great little digital mini guide for the area, which gives clear directions, good topos, grades and other useful information about the area. It costs no more than £5.00 and will give you a good couple of days climbing.

 

Be on the look out for other mini-guides for climbing areas around Marrakech and the High Atlas region!

 

Contact Climb Morocco directly for purchase of the mini guide at info@climbmorocco.com

Categories: Blog, Climbing Information, Guidebook(s), James, Morocco, Sport climbing
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Sport Climbing, France | Viviers

James about to push through the crux

James about to push through the crux of Le sang se lave dans les larmes 6b

Viviers is a small, local crag, but no where near as large and extensive as Les Dentelles de Monmirail. Sometimes small is good, though, and so James and I headed down push the grade a bit, chill out and generally enjoy a lovely afternoon.

 

I generally climb best after a good warm-up, so led up T’es vivant, camarade… 5c+ (You are alive, comrade…). Bizarrely, this route crosses two others, so route finding was a little difficult: I’m not used to wandering sport routes, and there were bolts everywhere as the various lines criss-crossed.

 

James then led up Le sang se lave dans les larmes 6b (Blood washes itself in tears). This was a good route. Nice opening moves up to a vegetated break, and then two crux moves close together: a pumpy pull up to a miniature cave feature and then a delicate side-step traverse on slopers and finger pockets. James cracked it seemingly without too much bother, but I got my first bout of sport climbing airtime working the crux sequence.

 

Although I had to abseil off eventually because of lack of time, it felt very fulfilling to have worked hard on the moves and taken some (small) lobs. As I have mentioned previously, sport routes can often be a little forgettable and anonymous, so having had a good fight with the line felt refreshing.

Categories: Blog, James, Simon, Sport climbing
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With only a Shunt for company

Crag shot of St. Montan on a beautiful spring afternoon

Crag shot of St. Montan on a beautiful spring afternoon

With all the regulars are away at the moment, it was me and the Shunt today at the local haunt, St. Montan. Spring is finally here, and it was a fine afternoon, although April is proving to be much more showery than last year.

 

Self belaying (also known as self-lining) was on the menu, as free soloing wouldn’t really go down well with my wife, plus I would be rubbish at it. The basic concept is climbing on a fixed line whilst belaying oneself. The rope is attached at the top of the crag and the climber is attached to the rope via a device (a Shunt in my case), which automatically locks onto the rope in the event of a rest or fall.

 

Simple, surely?

 

It was was first time using a Shunt in anger, as well as on my own, so I was feeling slightly nervous. Strangely enough it brought back similar feelings to when I was tramping around Scotland in January in preparation for my WML – the feeling of being slightly on the edge and needing to watch one’s back that little bit more carefully.

 

There were a pair of climbers already at the crag, and in the vicinity of the climbs I had earmarked, so I set myself up, trying hard to look like I knew what I was doing, never mind the climbing. Despite setting the Shunt upside down initially, and wondering why it wouldn’t lock, the setup was straightforward and it was time to climb.

 

Shunt setup - rope represents the fixed line; silver karabiner attaches to climber; cord is to release mechanism (e.g., for abseiling)

Shunt setup – rope represents the fixed line; silver karabiner attaches to climber; cord is to release mechanism (e.g., for abseiling)

It’s quite a novel sensation self-lining. It’s not quite top-roping and it’s not really leading or soloing – obviously – but there are some similar elements. The Shunt slides along smoothly when you make upward progress. However, there is the awareness of climbing above ‘gear’, as it were, and so the instinctive desire to whip it up to avoid shock loading (of you fell) can make the process a bit disruptive. Overall, I was getting the hang of it and making progress by the end, but moving routes was a faff.

 

When I got home I was pretty full of myself, but a bit of nosing round the internet reveals that Petzl issue a number of ‘dire warnings’, as Needlesports laconically put it, about self-lining with the Shunt. More nosing reveals that really there is no ideal autoblock or device suitable for this kind of climbing. All a bit depressing and slightly worrying, although Andy Kirkpatrick seems to have some time for it.

 

So, plenty of food for thought – more than I had anticipated – but still great to get out after a long climbing drought.

Categories: Blog, Personal, Simon, Sport climbing
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Sport Climbing, France | Les Dentelles de Monmirail

The striking limestone teeth of Les Dentelles de Monmirail

The striking limestone teeth of Les Dentelles de Monmirail

Matt and I headed deep into Provence for my first taste of a crag other than the short, but sweet, St. Montan. Les Dentelles de Monmirail are a parallel series of toothed ridges that rise to the south of Mont Ventoux and provide several hundred quality limestone sport climbs.

 

To our surprise, in the shadow the north aspects, snow lingered from the storm two weeks ago. There had also been recent hard frosts, judging from the frozen ground and ice on small puddles in the carpark. The wind was also blowing, making the ambient temperature of around two to three degrees distinctly unpleasant.

 

We warmed ourselves on the south aspect, which was nicely sheltered from the wind and cold. Ravens circled and swooped in the eddies calling with their characteristic ‘puk, puk’, and it was necessary to strip down to the t-shirt.

 

We ticked three climbs on the beautifully sunny south aspect, a 5b, 5c/6a and a 6a+. All were good climbs, made us think and employ good technique, but as with many of the sport climbs I have done to date, were rather forgettable. In retrospect, the climbs tended to be reduced to the challenge of a couple of moves.

 

In contrast, there is nothing like having a full-on fight on a trad climb or winter line in Scotland to etch an experience in your memory.

 

Our last climb of the day was a multi-pitch on the north aspect (5b, 5c). We were brought back to reality – that it is still definitely winter – by the cold, wind and chill. I lost the feeling in my fingers and we had to rush to get back home, so perhaps didn’t get the best of that part of the crag.

 

A day of many contrasts once again!

 

More photos on the Facebook page.

Categories: Blog, Matt, Personal, Simon, Sport climbing
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