/ Morocco - big easy stuff?
I'm interested in the idea of going to Morocco for some trad climbing this winter. One worry, though, is that with there being no mountain rescue service to speak of, I've heard that it's advisable to keep a couple of grades in hand when you're climbing out there.
I don't have all that many grades to have in hand, so I'm wondering what sort of stuff there'll be to do? Is there good stuff in the vein of big easy atmospheric mountain VDiffs and Severes in the UK, or would we be scratching around for decent stuff to do?
we spent 2 weeks there and didn't climb anything harder than VS. There is loads to have a go at. not sure about mountain routes, but plenty of 2+ pitch routes.
just take extra gear that you dont mind leaving behind and keep looking ahead. if the route looks unprotected and hard dont be afraid to back-off.
we backed off a server on the Dwawj Slabs as the route ahead looked dodgy for the grade.. remember that many of the routes have not had second accents so you can not always rely on the grades. We also found many routes easy for the grades given.
Moroccan Anti-Atlas North by Steve Broadbent was good for the easier grade stuff. it includes single pitch routes that can be top roped if you feel out of you depth.
It got quite hot when I went there and I caught my belayer applying sun tan cream as I was on the crux move!
It's a cool place and worth hiring a car when you are over there and hotels in Tafraoute are quite cheap, round about £6.50 a night maybe for the cheapest.
I wouldn't bother with the posh one recommended in Steve Broadbands guide( les armandies I think or something) as you can just turn up and find a place easy enough for half the price.
There seems to be a new guide book out now that could be worth a look.
Oh and check you have a spare tyre when you leave the car hire place as we got a puncture straight away in a local town.
I guess what's worrying me is that, given that we probably won't be pushing ourselves on (for us) hard scary stuff, will we have fun satisfying days out or will we just feel like we're going cragging and not really trying all week...
The other option would be to go and do something big and snowy but basically non-technical in the High Atlas.
Go for it Dave! The Anti Atlas is a fantastic place to climb and an interesting culture as well. It is true that there is no organised mountain rescue, but that doesn't always mean that you need to climb with a few grades in hand - you'll know how comfortable you feel in the environment you're in, and that will dictate how much you want to challenge yourself. Besides, keeping a few grades in hand is not the same as taking a few less risks (the route's haven't seen much traffic, so you need to be careful and expect some loose blocks, for example.)
Whilst there is no mountain rescue, it's not a remote environment. The local Berbers live and work all over the hills, and there is pretty good mobile phone coverage at most of the crags. There have been a couple of accidents at which the locals have assisted, and there are medical services - it's not like you're facing a 2-day crawl to civilization. That said, I wouldn't climb assuming that I'm going to rely on them!
As for grades - there really is plenty to go at whatever grade you climb, and personally I'd suggest that low-grade climbing is actually what the Anti-Atlas does best. In short - yes, there is good stuff in the vein of big easy mountain routes, and they certainly are not second-rate to any of the harder climbs. Here's a few suggestions:
Pinnacle Ridge (600m, Severe), Prophet Peak
Falcon Ridge (190m, HS 4c), Adrar Imtwan
Southwest Ridge / Angel's Crest / South Ridge link-up to Jebel el Kest (about 900m up to Severe)
Sun Ribbon Arete (340m, Severe), Robin Hood Rocks
Auld Lang Syne (160m, HS 4b), Adrar Umlil
Noah's Ark (60m HS 4b), Ksar Rock
The Alabama Buttress (100m, HS 4a), Akida
Serengeti (180m, Severe), Aylim
Thunder Rib (180m, Severe), Aylim
Dragon Ridge (170m, Severe), Dragon Buttress
Wild Country (145m, V.Diff), Adrar Asmit
West Side Story (140m, Severe), Adrar Asmit
Sunset Boulevard (90m, Severe) Adrar Umlil
South Ridge (165m, Severe) Adrar Umlil
Cefn Garw (80m, Severe) Adrar Umlil
Evening Wall (85m, V.Diff) Adrar Umlil
Lavender (85m, V.Diff), Aguerd Cioch
Tifina (120m, V.Diff), Fig Tree Wall
Manzkuneen (160m, V.Diff), Fig Tree Wall
I could go on... Not to mention loads of very good single pitch cragging at these grades - don't miss Anammer Crags, Tagzene Gorge, Tizi Gzaouine Gorge, Palm Tree Gorge, Robin Hood Rocks... the Solarium on Adrar Umlil gives a host of easy pitches in a mountain setting as well.
Easily 2 weeks' worth of stuff up to HS, all two and three star routes. And if you want HS and VS routes then you'll need to book a second trip... Check out http://www.climb-tafraout.com/climbing
The new Tafraout guidebook includes 2000 climbs on both sides of the range, with handy crag selectors to help you choose crags / routes based on grade, accessibility, length, commitment etc.
Also look at Morocco Rock by Emma Alsford and Paul Donnithorne. Superb guidebook which has been shortlisted for the Banff mountain literature prize. This details all the routes on the north side of the Anti Atlas. If you buy the book you also get a free, regularly updated supplement.
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man this thread has me amped for yet another overseas mission! After a quick look, Lower Eagle and Robin Hood walls both seem like easy access. Any other faces that are 'roadside' i.e. easy for a long weekend trip?
I can highly recommend Scimitar ridge as a good day out. Something like 8-10 pitches. I think there were some sections of VS but it was certainly easy VS. Very atmospheric, not too hard and with the car journey through local villages on the way to the start of the route in -I think - the Samazar valley, a great way to 'feel' the heart of Morocco. And a very pleasant walk off :-)
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