Category Archives: Trad

Last Week in Tafraout!

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Last week I had the joy of being back in one of my favourite places –  the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Such a fantastic multi-pitch trad paradise with hundreds of routes and still so much room for development!

 

 

I was out there guiding Lindsay from Washington DC, who is a keen climber and was up for proper multi-pitch adventure!  We had just three days there to get in as many classic routes as possible.

 

For those of you interested in the details, here’s the breakdown:

 

South Side – Tafraout

Day 1 – Tizgut Gorge

  • Tizgut Rib VS 4c
  • Ahmed VS 4c
  • Tizgut Corner HVS 5a
  • Right Recess VS 4b

 

North Side – Jebel Kest

Day 2 – Afantinzar Valley – Lower Eagle Crag and Ksar Rock

  • Pink Lady VS 4c, 230m
  • Sahara MVS 4b / Jedi Groove HVS 4c

 

Day 3 – Samazar Valley – Waterfall Walls

  • Above the Water HVS 5a, 400m

 

 

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Our last day was pretty full on, as we left Tafraout for the more remote walls of the Samazar Valley. The walls here are massive, with routes up to 800m. We chose a top 50 HVS called ‘Above the Water’ on Waterfall Walls. This route has some sick exposure and isn’t to be underestimated as there are sections of loose rock… proper adventure climbing. From door to door we took about 10 hours with about eight and a half hours of non-stop climbing – a brilliant way to finish off the trip.

 

If you are up for an Anti-Atlas adventure or looking for an introduction to multi-pitch climbing in an exotic location with great sunshine then get in touch for this autumn, winter or spring as this is the season to head to Tafraout!  And for a review of the brilliant guidebook produced by Oxford Alpine Club check out my blogs here.

 

 

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Categories: Anti-Atlas, Blog, James, Jebel El Kest, Tafraout, Trad
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The Lady in Black, Delirium & Agent Orange… morocco multi-pitch

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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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Trips and Courses for the Summer and Autumn

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Quick update on some of the trekking and climbing trips and courses we are offering over the summer and autumn! The High Atlas still has so much to offer outside of the winter season: great scrambling and trekking, stunning views of colour-filled  landscapes and ancient villages, and epic multi-pitch routes offering hundreds of metres of adventures. Our summer and autumn season lasts from the end of May to late October.

 

Please click on the links below for more details:

 

Drop us an email at morocco@the-mountain-people.com for more details.

Categories: Anti-Atlas, High Atlas, James, Mountaineering, Summer, Tafraout, Trad, Trekking
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Article & Resources on Solo Toproping/Self Belay

Me on self-belay with a mini-traxion and grigri

Me on self-belay with a mini-traxion and grigri

From time to time I head out on my own to train and have found self-belaying a great technique but it requires a bit of thought to do it safely.  For those of you who are interested in being able to go climbing on your own check out this article posted on www.climbing.com

 

http://www.climbing.com/skill/solo-toproping/

 

This is a great intro to the subject. Please note that a good level of advanced rope work/anchor building is required. This isn’t for novice climbers!

 

For another article on the subject please see:

 

http://www.petzl.com/us/outdoor/product-experience/self-belay-solo-climbing/introduction-us

 

Categories: Blog, instructional, James, Trad
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Tafraout / Anti-Atlas – Basic Logistics

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Morning drive into the beautiful Anti-Atlas mountains

Since my Tafraout recce trip I have been pretty busy getting things ready for this winter season, but I did want finish the mini blog series by passing on the basic logistical things you need for your trip! Most of the information that follows was taken from the new Tafraout guidebooks or from personal experience.

 

Airports

The closest airports to Tafraout are the Agadir and Marrakech Airports – once you’re there you won’t have too much in-country travel! Tafraout is roughly five hours form Marrakech and two and a half hours from Agadir. So it is worth considering Agadir first if there isn’t too much of a price difference in flights…. what you might save on your flight to Marrakech you might spend in petrol or coach costs on arrival and, of course, you’ll also save yourself some time.

 

Flights

Top tip: have a good look at all your flight options! Easyjet, Ryan Air and British Airways are a few of the airlines that fly into either Marrakech or Agadir. Another thing to consider is the checked baggage. If you book well in advance on British Airways sometimes it works out cheaper or not much more and you get 23kg instead of 20kg checked baggage! They also give you two carry-on bags, so you can get your laptop and potentially all your clothes into your carry-on baggage: more room for your climbing rack in the hold luggage J Flights vary a bit pricewise but you can get flights as cheap as £150 return!

 

Hire Cars

You can get hire cars in both Agadir and Marrakech. It will cost you roughly £150 to £200 for a week.  Book in advance and check the opening times of the hire company to make sure your arrival and departure flights will allow you to pick up and drop off your hire car!

 

Accommodation  

This depends on which side of the Anti-Atlas you are going to be climbing on! Top Tip: I would get your hands on the two-volume guidebook and plan where you want to stay based on where you want to climb (and of course your budget!).

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Kasbah Tizourgane… pretty atmospheric place!

 

North Side – Not much on this side of the range:

 

South Side – There are a plethora of places to stay:

 

Food & Drink

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Proper coffee… ahhh!

There are loads of choices of places to eat – here are a few recommendations:

  • Coffee! If your like me and want real coffee then I would recommend Restaurant/Hotel Tanger. I got a proper Americano… a big glass (not a little espresso shot) and the food was great and inexpensive! It is located in the centre of town.
  • Restaurant La Kasbah is a great place if you have a bit of extra money to spend on food, and beer and wine is available.
  • Hotel Les Amandiers is another place if you are looking for a cold beer and they also have a restaurant.

 

Supplies

There are loads of little shops called “hanouts” were you can purchase snacks, water, fizzy drinks, etc.

 

Climbing gear

Gear shops don’t really exist in Morocco! So bring everything you need kit wise for your trip.

 

More Information

 

If you are interested in guiding or instructions from a qualified MIA (Mountaineering Instructor) who lives in Morocco please contact us for our guiding prices at morocco@the-mountain-people.com

 

All the best you on your trad adventures in the Anti-Atlas/Tafraout!

 

Peace!

 

 

Categories: Anti-Atlas, Blog, James, Morocco, Tafraout, Trad
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