Tag Archives: Tafraout trad

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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Morocco Trad Climbing | Tafraout Recce Trip

This is the first in a short series on the amazing Morocco trad climbing destination of Tafraout, in the Anti-Atlas mountains. In this post we take an overview of the upcoming trad climbing area of Tafraout to give you a juicy taster if you are looking for your next Morocco trad climbing adventure or want some help with planning or logistics. Hopefully this should leave you suitably psyched-up, so check out the follow up posts on guidebooks (part 2) and basic logistics (part 3).

 

I have been back now in Imlil for a few days after my Anti-Atlas recce trip with Jay of Climb Morocco. Great to have a trusted climbing partner who shares my love for Morocco trad climbing!

 

Jay and I had a few objectives for this trip:

 

  • Climb some multi-pitch trad routes in the lower E grades
  • Get hold of the newly-released Tafraout guide book (see my book review in part 2 of this series)
  • Get more familiar with the area (see part 3 for a lowdown on basic logistics)

 

Trad climbing on quartzite under blue skies

 

Ksar Rock: Morocco trad climbing

Ksar Rock

The trip was a success all around and got up our ‘climbing stoke’ for future trips. The Anti-Atlas are well worth the five-hour drive south from Marrakech – there are literally hundreds of trad climbing routes on the quartzite rocks, all very well documented in the available guidebooks. And you can enjoy all this under a near-guaranteed perfect blue sky…

 

Jay and I spent two days climbing on the north side of Jebel el Kest at the high valley of Afantinaz. On day one we were at Ksar rock where the routes are shorter (2 to 5 pitches). They give a really good intro to the style of trad climbing in the Anti-Atlas and only have a 10 minute walk-in! We were also welcomed there by some friendly local Berbers for Friday couscous lunch (an institution in Morocco, as traditional as a Sunday roast in the UK). This was a real treat and testimony to the lovely hospitality that Morocco is famous for when you get off the tourist beaten track!

 

Classic routes, short walk-ins

 

Morocco trad climbing: Lower Eagle Crag

Black Beauty E1 5b – Lower Eagle Crag

On day two we wanted to push ourselves a bit further and go for a bigger route.  We decided to get on the 210m E1 5b Black Beauty, a 2 star route that makes a great day out! The route is just across the road from Ksar rock on Lower Eagle Crag. It has a slightly longer walk-in – a whole 15 minutes! (Make sure you get the right path as there are some thick bushes to push through if you get off route.) The route was what we expected, with a couple of crux pitches which we thoroughly enjoyed. And overall we found the Afantinaz valley rock very good quality with only the odd small section of loose rock.

 

Joe Brown’s legacy in Tafraout

 

Morocco trad climbing: Tizgut Crack

Jay seconding on the first pitch of Tizgut Crack E2 5b

Day three we decided to stay on the south side of the mountains near to the town of Tafraout where we were staying. We headed into the popular area of the Tizgut gorge (a 20 minute drive from Tafraout and a 35 minute walk-in), seeking out the classic routes of the area.

 

The first route we jumped on was Tizgut crack E2 5b (a top 50 three star route). This route was put up by Joe Brown and is worth making time for on your trip. The line is sustained crack climbing on pitch one with lots of hand and fist jams and pitch two packs a punch as well with a couple of steeper sections.

 

From there it is easy climbing to the terrace where you scramble down. The second route we climbed was Tizgut Arete E1 5a. This route felt pretty bold with its thin, small pro placements (also a top 50 three star route). Another great day out!

 

Huge Morocco trad climbing potential

 

We walked away from this trip inspired by the breath-taking views, the overall good quality of the rock and the massive scope for multi-pitch Morocco trad climbing adventures.

 

If any of this whets your appetite for a trad climbing adventure then get in touch for some single- and multi-pitch guiding in the Anti-Atlas. If you want to get some personal coaching and input, challenge yourself on some big routes and enjoy the stunning surroundings of the Anti-Atlas, then we can offer you instruction and training with a fully qualified Mountaineering Instructor (MIA) here in Morocco. Contact us at morocco@the-mountain-people.com for more information.

 


 

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