/ Tafraoute Routes Update:
With reference to What Steve And Katja Did On Their Holidays (aka "Moroccan Anti-Atlas North"), as opposed to What Emma And Paul Did On Their Holidays (aka "Moroccan Anti-Atlas North 2012 Update" aka "Moroccan Rock Jebel El Kest"):
Lower Eagle Crag:
Walk-in should only be attempted direct to Black Beauty or from the left. The walk-in from the right towards Infinity is murderous brambles.
Descent is down the closer slabby gully at the right end of the crag, there are cairns marking the way and this avoids most vegetation.
Infinity E4 5c *** (correct) - amazing first pitch, one of the best in the area, bold off the deck but easy overall. Abseil possible, full route is very unbalanced but fine combination.
Walk-in is more like 5 minutes.
Dennis The Menace HVS 5a ** (not E1 5b) - partner said it was easy.
Grasshopper Arete HS 4b ** (not VS 4c) - partner said it was easy.
Crackerjack E2 5c *** (easy for E3) - brilliant top pitch, steady with good gear and jams etc. Watch ropes on abseil.
Profusion of Protusions E1 5a ** (not E1 5b) - steady crack leading to steady jugs, a bit fragile in places hence worth E1.
[x] Anzar HVS 5a (not *) - not an obvious line, HS groove to the right much more natural.
Jericho Road VS 4c *** (correct) - solid at the grade, slightly fragile rock but nice position, steep climbing, and summit tick.
Park End E3 5b ** (not ***) - easy for the grade, not a devastating solo, good gear before leaving HVS crack. Solid star for the line and another for the climbing, but not independent enough to be worth ***.
St Clements VS 4c *** (not HVS) - partner said it was steady, nice line and lovely finish.
St Aldates VS 4c ** (not HVS) - nice, steady, not quite as good as StC.
Abseil down from Catwalk to Cannon Buttress is a full 25m+ NOT 20m.
Sahara HS 4b *** (not VS) - safe easy jug pulling with just one 4a/b move to finish. Very nice route.
Jedi Groove HVS 4c *** (correct) - classic pitch, easy for the grade but just about merits it for position and 5a crux.
Cannon Buttress Direct E1 5b *** (correct) - steady at this grade and very nice. Much better done in one pitch.
O-Zone E2 5c ** (correct) - good fun steep climbing, not low in the grade as there's some bold stretches above the crux flake.
Days of Thunder E3 6a ** (not ***) - solid at the grade, thin wires are okay but goes on for longer than expect. Some crispy rock and cramped location so not ***.
Breaking Strain E4 6a *** (probably not **) - excellent line with intense and strenuous climbing, possible *** for pitch 1. Abseil down from P2 is easy 45m not 55m. Description is wrong, crux is the middle of the groove and safe (but thin!).
Finger And Thumb:
The Snake E3 5c *** (not **) - definite ***, one of the very best E3s in the area, two great pitches (bottom one is E2 5b) and a summit tick. 50m abseil towards Thumb over smooth dead tree.
The Tortoise E0 5a ** (HVS/E1?) - HVS climbing with an E1 vibe, safe but committing crux. Just worth ** for nice rock and a very pointy summit.
Robin Hood Rocks:
Call To Prayer E1 5b ** (not *) - solid at the grade with technical climbing and just enough gear, good line and continuous interest so worth **.
The Sword Of Damocles HS 4b ** (correct) - fine at the grade and nice getting into crack.
Down And Out E0 5a ** (HVS/E1?) - steady and good gear so not E1, maybe HVS though. Nice climbing and better than it's blocky nature indicates.
Hello Picasso E4 6a *** (correct) - brilliant pitch, steady but great moves with good rests and adequate protection, quite fiddly in the middle section. One of the best outcrop Extremes.
[x] Dead Arm On The Panic Button E4 5b/c * (not E3 5b ***) - worth * for the climbing but only recommended as a way to cut short your Morocco trip and test your medical insurance. Not what one flies abroad for.
Take If Easy HS 4b ** (not ***) - good solid climbing but a bit short and blocky to be ***.
Lying Eyes VS 4c *** (not **) - worth *** for the line, rock, and interesting climbing.
Orbital E3 5c ** (correct) - good route, pushing ***, not soft touch for the grade as crux gear is small and fiddly, and the whole "wrong foot rockover" message is complete bollox.
Bishop's Balcony HVS 5a *** (correct) - good fun climbing in an exposed position, good jams and holds, maybe ** as a bit short for ***.
Live And Let Die E2 5c ** (not E3 6a **) - stiff at this grade but not much harder, great gear and good jams, and the thuggy crux is short-lived.
Die Another Day E3 5b ** (correct) - well worth stars for the general style and funky rock, does exactly what it says on the tin.
[x] Die Another Day Direct E4 6a *** (not **) - looks like a great addition to the route, but a hard onsight especially in the afternoon heat and without a hanging top-rope anchor.
Dwawj Wall and Slabs:
Dwawj Wall approach is 15 mins and gruelling.
Rock The Kasbah E3 5c *** (not **) - could be E2, easier crux than Crackerjack but more tiring overall. Worth *** for excellent line and continuous climbing.
Shagadelic E2 5c ** (correct) - solid at this grade, almost worth *** for the wandering but committing first pitch with an excellent crux. Abseil station needs replacing.
Jewel In The Crown VS 4b, 4b ** (not 4a, 4b) - first pitch is the technical and adjectival crux, second pitch is easier but a fine towering rib. Could be *** for fine rock and nice climbing. Both 50m abseils but second one needs care on boulder.
In the W.E.A.P.D.O.T.H. book:
Deep Well Pinnacles:
??? E4 5c *** (correct) - spot on, bold and blind climbing with a good easy arete finish.
??? E1 5b *** (probably more than **) - two very fine pitches with a comfy belay pinnacle and easy abseils.
Firesword E1(2) 5b *** (correct-ish) - top end of the grade, or E2 without a Camalot 4+ for the death chimney on pitch 2. Excellent classic route with very substantial pitches.
[x] Flash Flood E4+ 6b ** (not E4 6a ***) - hard, reachy and slopey, albeit with perfect protection. Radical rock and a cool concept, but the footless thuggery crux is too grim for ***.
Escape Pitch E2 5b * (correct) - short, bizarre, fun shallow water solo that will shock any VS leaders looking for an escape.
Les Amaniers confirmed as good and comfortable, but an hour's drive to most areas.
Kasbah Tizourgine confirmed as good, characterful and much closer, but no wifi and COLD bedrooms.
Samazar Valley dirt road IS very poor as warned, it is possible to reach Dragon Buttress in a small 2WD but it is VERY slow and rougher than a night out in Glasgow's East End. Any climbers planning to visit regularly should hire a 4WD.
In winter it can get fairly hot in the sun but very cold in the shade and at night (i.e. permanent frost some days).
Most abseil stations are good but take plenty of spare tat as walking descents are often rough and tedious.
Morocco Coco VS 4c *** (correct) - really nice climbing. We used the ab over the back, we weren't too sure about the chain below the boulder but it's probably ok.
Cannon Buttress Direct E1 5b *** (correct) - seconded, fairly steady at the grade.
Pink Lady VS 4c *** (correct) - probably only two stars as only a couple of the pitches are really good. Third pitch is probably 4c not 4a as the guide says.
Black Beauty E1 5b *** (correct) - again only two stars maybe, the line is not as strong as we imagined and I seemed to be slightly off route on pitch 3 but there's some really nice climbing.
Dennis the Menace HVS 5a ** (correct) - probably only one star, the climbing is ok but pretty low on gear.
A Profusion of Protrusions E1 5b ** (correct) - I thought 3 stars as the line is great and keeps giving nice climbing. I think 5b, the crack at the start is a little awkward but theres a steep move near the top of the pitch that is 5b I think.
Crackerjack E3 5c *** (E2 5c ***) - I seconded but only found one move tricky (bit of a boulder problem) and tons of bomber gear.
Temptress E1 5b *** (maybe HVS 5a *** ?) - I seconded, seemed much easier than other 5b's in the area and very well protected.
Dead Parrot Crack VS 4c ** (correct) - fair at the grade, nice enough climbing.
Sound Reflection E1 5b or E2 5c *** - we did the second ascent of this. The first acsentionists (Theo and Owen) gave it E1 5b with 3x 5b pitches. We thought 5b, 5b, 5c giving probably an overall grade of E2.
The Golden Compass E1 5b *** (correct) - one of the best routes of the holiday. Two stunning pitches.
Central Arete E2 5c *** (correct) - sustained and some loose rock. The first pitch, take the right most crack line (although unprotected at the crux at 4/5m but probably only 4c). Second pitch is sustained with some loose rock. Recommendation, place the belay after the first pitch to the right to avoid any loose rock coming down.
Firesword E1 5b *** (correct, maybe E2) - some hard pitches (3rd, 4th) but an excellent route where all the pitches are ace. For the descent, go over the top of the alpine looking ridge, looks slightly unlikely but is fine. Descend towards the right when you find cairns at the col.
We liked the isolation of Kasbah Tizourgane. The staff were very friendly. The bedrooms are a little chilly. Also be aware that tax is not included in the price, nor are drinks. We were lucky to have the extra cash needed on us given that the nearest cash machine is Tafraoute (45mins each way).
Watch out for police. We drove from Marrakech and there were lots of road blocks. On the way there some police asked for documents and kept us waiting a while. On the return we were stopped allegedly speeding (which we were not) and the only option was to pay 300 dirhams.
I'll do a full report when i get back but just done Bowline at what is down as crag ND on here.
If that's E1 i'll eat my ab tat
Up to my shoulders in an offwidth crack or teetering above poor gear making 5b moves - and most of the time both.
I strung the first 2 pitches together and had a full 60 metres of trauma.
Briliant though and well worth it every move felt like an important decision.
Got to be E2 5b *** in my humble opinion. I'm still buzzing though so this may affect my grading ability ;0)
Pink Lady and Black Beauty - really only **? That face looked really good and I assumed those routes would be well balanced.
Dennis The Menace - I think my partner would have agreed with only *.
Profusion - yeah could be 5b for the top little pull off the ledge. Surely a bit broken and ledgy for ***?
Good comments about the Kasbah staff and the police road blocks, although when they saw we were idiot Europeans and therefore irrelevant, we got through pretty quick.
pink lady is much better than Morocco cocco.. id give pink lady 3stars and Morocco 2stars
Pink lady had two really good pitches, but the first and last pitches were just quite scrambley.
Black Beauty looks like an amazing line from the road and the first three pitches were good, but again just seems to turn into a scramble. Also the line isn't as strong as you hope. From the road you think it'll be really obvious but when you're up there on the second and third pitches there were a couple of points where you could take one of several options.
Profusion, you might be right there, I tended to avoid the big ledges on the left, but I guess the fact they are there does detract a bit.
Morocco Coco, I thought some of the moves on this were brilliant for the grade, well protected and secure but really cool moves.
I guess at the end of the day different things affect how people star routes. In this area it seemed a little harder to discern the very best routes in the area from the good routes because most climbs seemed to have a high number of stars. Maybe a list of the two or three favourite routes at each grade would be a good edition to future guide books?
We got waived through most police road blocks. On the way down we got stopped at one and the guy tried it on a bit, but we just sat in the car and repeated that we were not speeding and he let us carry on.
When approaching Pink Lady (an probably any routes round there) keep an eye on where you are going - we ended up below Immacularder and could not work out where we were.
There are so many *** - could introduce **** for the really super ones.
Pete Johnson (FA) had the third pitch down as 5a - definitely not 4a - and I would tend to agree with 5a - excellent pitch.
Thats got me quite psyched Fiend. Think ill add it to the list of places to go. Anything slightly harder, E5/6's that look good?
Not much at all, so far. There are a few isolated E5s including the cover-shot of the Almsford guide which looks very short-lived in the flesh, and I think a couple of E6s put up by Guy Robertson et al on the South Side, and a Dawes E7 "somewhere".
There is of course loads of potential for harder stuff....a few examples....
Direct groove / wall right of E4 5c @ Deep Wells.
Direct finish to E1 @ Deep Wells.
A few lines to the left of Breaking Strain @ Ksar.
Wall to the right of Infinity @ Lower Eagle.
4m roof crack @ Dwawj Wall.
Direct start & finish to Flash Flood @ Tassila
Ach, that's without even looking for potential.
There is indeed...
At the moment there's probably only a handful of climbs above E4, but there is certainly scope for lots more.
Are there any potential E0's to do?
Yes i did an E0 at robin hood rocks. Down as E1 5a on the roadside buttress. We couldn't decide if it was HVS or E1 so real good potential for E0 grading.
There is more rock than you can shake a stick at and many obvious lines that look very hard. Although there may not be many that have been climbed yet you would not have any trouble finding new hard lines to do on multi pitch or single pitch.
I'd vote for the Broadbent Holiday Album (Anti-Atlas North) - better background information (esp. if staying in Tafraoute), plastic cover, very useful comprehensive crag table, easier to use colour-coordination on diagrams, has Robin Hood Rocks in.
BUT the Almsford/Donnithorne Holiday Album has a better selection of harder multipitch routes, a large new-ish area just north of Idaougnidif, and 200 new routes in.
Ideally one would get both. Even more ideally the no-we're-not-really-rivals-honest teams would have pooled their resources and done a guide combining the utility of the former and the scope of the latter (particularly sensible given the huge overlap between the guides).
Biscuit: Down And Out, yes benchmark E0 and the first route I did there.
I couldn't agree more. We used to get drilled into us in my old job that duplication of work was a waste of everyones time.It'd be brilliant to see them get together in the future. As you mentioned most of our decision making was done using the crag table, very handy. Pics of where to turn off were sometimes invaluable as well.
However when compared to the cicerone guide they are both golden. You might as well wear a blindfold and walk until you hit some rock and climb than take the cicerone. Not criticising it's grading system, which kept some of the adventure for sure, but when approach descriptions say things like " ...go a short distance.." How long is that then. Could be 5 mins for some people or 30 secs for others. " Park under the Argan tree." was another classic. There must be millions of them.
I take it thats the Bowline in the OAC guide then. E2 5b sounds right. Bowline and Great Corner are marked the wrong way round in the Crack Addicts guide, by the way.
Not sure what it's called. There was Great Corner - which we took to be the HVS to the left - and then the initial 2 pitches of the amazing looking Sword of Allah. We went up that and then broke left onto the main face. Great Corner also provided a bit of a struggle at HVS and was thought to be a bit tougher than that. I didn't climb that though so can't comment.
I think it'd be Bowline we did. If you've done it i'd be interested in what you thought. It's been nearly 2 yrs since i did trad and massive multi pitching at that grade is not what i have done a lot of. It didn't feel E1 for sure - but i had one cam 4, which i stupidly used low down, and I was surprised to see a peg on the 2nd pitch. My morals went straight out of the window though and i gladly clipped it ;0)
Whatever the grade it's an amazing route and we're coming back with bigger gear and a camalot 6 to tackle Sword of Allah, what a line.
A friend of mine asked me to write up some info for him before he goes out to Morocco in a couple of months time, so I figured Id post what I wrote here as well to add to the pool of collective knowledge..
For trip we used the 'Morocco Rock' Guidebook.
To that end in no particular order..
We stayed in the Kasbah Tizourgane, which was alright. Showers are warm most of the time, food was good, we took the option of getting them to make us a sandwich thing to take with us each day. The alternative for lunch is getting some bread from down in the town and some spreadable cheese or something. Id say the only drawback of the place is the lack of stuff to do at night, especially in the absence of any sort of wifi of internet facilities. If I was staying there again Id take a few board games or something. We didnt see any other places with t'internet any closer than Tafroute either (the town down the road is dead at night too).
We got the cheapest car on the website (a Suzuki Alto from Firstcar). Probably should have coughed up a little extra cash on that one. No cigarette lighter socket for the GPS, and the fastest we could get it up to was 130 kph. Tizourgane is simple to get to, in fact navigating around the majority of Morocco is simple with a map, but Marraketch is hardcore without one (actually its pretty nuts with one). We did a fair bit of driving later on and the gps came in handy every now and then, we just had to make sure it was charged up and used it sparingly.
We had a bit of an incedent with our car too. Most of the crags are on good roads, but theres a few that are down rocky dirt roads (such as the finger and thumb, which are must do's). After driving back one night the window managed to jump out of its housing, and long story short, it ended up costing us the best part of a day messing about to get it sorted. I dont think that would have happened in any other car but our oldskool Alto.
Also as you drive through villages throughout the country there are always police check points. Slow down in good time. I got done doing 70 past the 60 sign. They had a camera so I couldnt really argue the toss. The fine would have been 300 DH, but it was reduced to a 100DH because they love the Army. And bribes.
Take lots of chalk, any consumables you can think of, and tat. The abseils out there tend to weather very quickly. If youve got a spare rope that youre retiring and the baggage allowance left over for it, take that. If not, just take plenty of cordage etc. The vast majority of abseils are fine, but sometimes you want to sling your own bit of cord around to make sure.
Also best take 2 sets of ropes. We (I) almost severed a rope during a fall, luckily it was only 3m from the end of the rope. The other rope ended up with the core showing through where one of us must have trod on it (there are lots of unforgiving edges and stones on the ground).
2 Sets of cams, nuts, lots of quickdraws, especially extendable ones, and mucho slings. There are a lot of long pitches out there (although quite a few of the 50m pitches we just broke into smaller ones because the rope drag gets insane).
Food at the Kasbah is usually good at night, breakfast can be either good (pancakes and porridge) or a bit rubbish (bread, honey and oranges). Snack wise, the Moroccans dont do cereal bar type snacks, only chocolate wafers and other rubbish. I took a load of protein bars which I was glad I did as I could wolf them down on some of the bigger multipitch stuff we did.
Bit of feedback from the routes we did out there, so in no particular order..
A Profusion of Protrusions E1 5b 50m
More like 5a, good climb tho. Both I and the 2nd pulled large chunks off the start, but rock was ok thereafter. I banged in a belay at 40m or so as you reach an obvious ledge (the rope drag was getting quite full on and the next part's committing for that level of pull from below).
Kingpin HVS 5a
Great climb, 2 stars.
Pelez/Pour Manger E1 5b
2 Stars is fair. The second pitch is 5b tho, not 5a.
Speed is Everything Technique is Nothing. E1 5a
Good climb, more like HVS tho.
Cannon Buttress/ Jedi Groove E1 5b
Fair one at 2 stars.
The Temptress E1 5b
Finger and Thumb.
The Tortoise E1 5a
More like HVS than E1. Couple of committing moves at the start but then the rest is a scramble.
Sublux Arete E1
Good Climb, deserves at least a star or 2 two for the experience factor. Felt very intimidating from below but the rock's better than what it looks, just need to think about where youre placing gear and what youre pulling on. If I did it again Id whck a belay in at the ledge at the 50m mark, the last part involves climbing around a corner and the rope drag doubles.
Chasse au Tressor E1 5b
Solid for the grade. The descent (downclimb the Severe) is not recommended in the dark with no headtorches!
Sunset Crack E1 5c
'ard but safe. ish. Managed to almost sever a rope on a fall, but plenty of gear. The description could be clearer tho. There's no photo and the description states simply 'Takes an obvious crack and arete in the bay up and left of Crank and GO'. It would be helpful to know if you stay on the face with the crack all the way up, or move onto the slabby arete at some point.
The White Dome Tower 3
Leaving Las Vegas E2 5c
Really cool climb, 3 stars.
Central Arete E2
Photo could be a bit clearer for this. We started out going the wrong way on the second pitch, Apart from that, fair at the grade. Also we put in a new ab station at the top of the route which with 60m twins you can abseil all the way to the deck.
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