Oukaimeden is a small village in the High Atlas Mountains (2700m) of Morocco and only 90 minutes drive from Marrakech. A new bouldering destination with thousands of untouched sandstone boulders.
The Bakery. Situated at walking distance just outside the village. Makes it perfect for an afternoon boulder session. This is the area where we have opened the most boulders so far. This area is slightly up the hill and gives great views over the village and the lake. There are a few piles of bigger boulders for High-Ball-lovers.
My favourite problem(s): Tarte tartain (6B) FA by Irene Pieper
Rivers of Babylon. Situated at the east side of the lake with some boulders just at the shore of the lake but with most of the boulders and potential at the other side of the ridge. Be extra careful with this area because there are a lot of shepherds' houses and structures. Respect this. It’s their living area. There is huge potential to discover if you follow the river bed.
My favourite problem(s): Sinkcrimper (video) (7B) FA by Michael Timmermans & YOLO (6B+) FA by Wouter Willebrands
The colony. This area is the furthest away from the village, still only seven kilometres downwards. Just between a sharp curve in the road there is a flat area with very interesting boulders and nice problems. A good mix of hard overhang ‘cave’ boulders, balanc’y plates, scary (not for the High Ball lovers) High Balls, and technical ridges. A complete and compact area. Because this area is a little lower than the village it’s a little warmer up here but as during the day the clouds will mostly cover the mountains they will first bring this area into the shade and much later the upper areas like the Bakery and Rivers of Babylon.
My favourite problem(s): Structure and Direction (6B) FA by my friend Jay Parks.
Shepherds. This area is home to some big boulders not far from the road (just before the Bakery on the right as you approach Oukaimeden). It gets the name from the numerous stone homes built in and around the boulders by village shepherds. There is a lot of new route potential in this area. It features many boulders with crimp rails and small pockets...and some high boulders too.
Friends. An area with very high potential for hard stuff. An area with scenic views and great solid blocks in nice open fields. Here, Louis Parkinson made the First Ascent of ‘as you wish (7C).
My Favourite problem(s): Mmeeeh (6B) & Hidden Gem (7A) both FA by Bastiaan Terhorst. But I like to add my friends name Leander Rutten for discovering the Mmeeeh line.
Plato. Plato is the only area so far in Oukaimeden which is located at the North West side of the mountain ridge. It is a very compact area with one of the highest concentrations of blocs per m2. This area is discovered in May 2015 during the imik'simik trip. Plato is different to other areas because it is totally flat what means no arduous approaches to your favourite problems. The views are splendid and with the sunset this area is perfect for an evening session.
My favourite problem(s): Walou (6A) FA Bastiaan Terhorst & Lumia (6B) FA by Keoma Jacobs
Back yard. Small but nice area. Located just above the 'centre ville' of the village and next to Mostapha's Chalet this recently discovered area is perfect for a late evening session with nice views over the village and valley. It is a small area with lots of lower grade problems. Lots of undiscovered and un-opened problems are waiting for you.
My favourite problem(s): Captain Cutloose (7B) FA by Louis Parkinson & Dutch Work Orange (6B) FA by Merlijn vanEijk & Bloody Pinky (7B) FA by Jochen Adriaensens
There is much more than these seven areas but you have to start somewhere. I started at the beginning and without your help it’s never going to be finished. Join and become part of this great project. Help us develop the topo or join one of our trips.
When do I go?
Depending on your intentions you can boulder all year round in Oukaimeden. I would say the best time to visit Oukaimeden is between March and May and again between September and November. It is very much possible to boulder between December and February but there is a bigger chance of snow. In the summer months, June to August, you have to plan your boulder sessions more around mornings and evenings. Important to mention is that Oukaimeden is maybe the highest boulder area in the world and this affects the weather to a high level. One day in April you can be hiding in jackets and the next day you have to be seriously careful to not get sunburnt when you boulder without a shirts or only in your sports bra. That’s the High Atlas mountains!
Who flies where?
You fly to Marrakech. The tourist hot spot of Marrakech and better known as the city of 1001 nights. Many low-cost airlines fly to Marrakech. From there it’s only 90 minutes' drive to the contrasting calmness of Oukaimeden. Use a car rental company, or I can also arrange a transfer to Oukaimeden. You can also travel with public transport from Marrakech to Oukaimeden but is a bit more time consuming (but an experience too).
Where do I stay?
I always stay in Chalet Mostapaha, the highest chalet in North Africa. This is a great alpine-like chalet with great details, impressive mountain views, a kitchen and fireplace. Costs start at around €25,- per night per person (including breakfast and wood for fire). Booking via firstname.lastname@example.org You can also choose the Club Alpine Français (CAF) hut lower in the village. A very neat and organised place with only dorms. You pay €20,- per night per person (without breakfast). In the summer months - July to September - costs are €12,- per night per person. Book here: email@example.com.
What's the scoff like?
Tajine, lots of tajine and eggs. It’s a small village and choices are not endless like in Marrakech. Tajine is traditionally cooked by nomads using portable ovens (made of pottery) over charcoal braziers and is a type of stew, usually containing meat. Besides that they are famous for making huge pans of Moroccan-style scrambled eggs. Everything you eat is accompanied with bread.
Where can I buy gear and food?
You can’t buy any gear in Morocco. I have several Mad Rock crash pads stocked in Oukaimeden that you can rent. Next to that I have some chalk and chalk bags for sale in the chalet but that’s all very limited. There are some little shops in the village where you can buy most basic products like bread, water, canned fish (mackerel, sardines & tuna), sodas, yoghurts, dates and many more necessities like toothpaste, batteries, lip-gloss and sweets. You can’t buy alcohol in these shops. As long as it is a small amount you can buy some beers at CAF (€2,50 for 33cl). You can also drink beers at the chic hotel Chez JuJu (€4 per beer).
What else is there apart from the climbing?
If you go crazy about ancient rock paintings, butterflies, or astronomy then Oukaimeden would seem to be an appropriate place. A friend of mine, Jeremy Jones from Climb Morocco, organises sport climbing trips to Oukaimeden too. Not far from Oukaimeden in the Ourika valley Jonathan from Esprit Vertical is guiding and developing some great canyoning. It’s an amazing area for hiking and high-level mountain biking. But don’t expect much entertainment in the village.
What is the Imik’simik trip?
Sometime during April & May imik’simik rents the whole chalet and welcomes everyone to join the group for as long as they like. You can join for days, weeks or the whole period. That’s up to you. Just send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can reserve your place at the chalet and the car & make sure you can use a crash pad. During the trip you can do what you want; no program, just bouldering.
imik’simik offers you a digital topo and the possibility to do first ascents which will be published in the next Oukaimeden topo. Not only can you have the entire guide with you on your device complete with offline topos and photos which are filterable and searchable, but the Rakkup climbing guides come with offline turn by turn directions using GPS to get you to the climbing area and help you find the right boulders without the usual navigation issues. The Rakkup guidebook for Oukaimeden can be purchased in-app from the free Rakkup app from the iTunes App Store for iOS or the Google Play store for Android. At the moment there are 300+ problems in the topo. Together with all the new first ascents earlier this year during the imik’simik trip, the next update will contain around 500 problems.