Do climbing trips get better than this?

After our incredible rock climbing trip to Wadi Rum in Jordan last year, Carol, Amy, Ian and myself wondered if we would ever find anywhere else that would come close to being as amazing.

A bit of research suggested that Tafraoute in Southern Morocco might be just what we were after. Interesting culture and beautiful landscapes, with multi-pitch adventurous trad routes at amenable grades and good weather in November. So the stage was set, and we went about organising our trip, acquiring a few new trip members along the way, until four became eight.

Flying out from Gatwick with such high expectations of just how good a climbing trip could be. We wondered if we would be disappointed. We arrived in Agadir in the dark and drove for two hours to our home for the week- Kasbah Tizourgane on the North Side of the anti-atlas mountains. We certainly weren’t disappointed with our accomodation, climbing the winding stairs to the fortified town in the dark, with the beautifully clear starry sky above our heads. We were also treated to a very hospitable welcome and of course the famous Moroccan mint tea. We were excited to wake up the next morning to our high vantage point, and views of orange quartzite mountains rising across the Southern skyline.

Kasbah Tizourgane
Kasbah Tizourgane
Anti atlas panorama
Anti atlas panorama

We had a relaxing first day climbing some short multi-pitch routes at Ksar Rock, getting used to climbing outside again and placing trad gear- it has been a while for some of us!! Lots of fun was had by all and our first taste of Moroccan rock, had us all excited for more!

Warming up at Ksar Rock
Warming up at Ksar Rock

So brimming with confidence and enthusiasm after our first day, Adrian, Amy, Maria and I decided we would attempt Scimitar Ridge a ten pitch VS on Safinah down in the remote Samazar valley. I’d picked out the route as my key objective for the trip. Driving the 10km down the winding dirt road and then bushwacking through a multitude of pricky bushes to get to the climb, meant that it felt like an adventure before we even got to the base of the route. The climb itself was lots of fun, and even the overhanging VS 5a crux just flew past, and before we knew it we were at the top.

Scimitar Ridge- gotta be done!
Scimitar Ridge – gotta be done!
Maria appearing above the crux on Scimitar Ridge
Maria appearing above the crux on Scimitar Ridge

What to do now that I’d accomplished my objective for the trip on the second day? Fortunately there was so much rock and so much good climbing, that it was impossible to achieve all objectives in just one trip, or even in many. Between us we climbed countless routes at lots of different venues. The climbing was so good that we couldn’t tear ourselves away for a rest day during the eight days of our trip and we’d only drag ourselves away from the crags once it got dark. Jonnie and Carol in particular displayed levels of enthusiasm never before seen on a climbing trip! With so many good routes it would be impossible to recount them all, but the most memorable moments of our trip included:

– Koon, Adrian, Jonnie and Maria climbing Firesword a stunning top end E1 at Dragon Rock with four sustained and interesting pitches of climbing

Koon takes on the Dragon
Koon takes on the Firesword

– Climbing Saladin, my favourite route of the trip, with Adrian, a steep and sustained HVS, through incredible scenery for the grade in the atmospheric Sanctury.

Adrian climbing Saladin
Adrian climbing Saladin

– Some extreme bridging by Koon on Giant at the White Domes, levels of flexibility never seen before!

A step too far?
A step too far?

– Carol and Jonnie climbing a new route at the white domes on the last day of the trip and naming it ‘Fur Elsie’

One to go back for?!
One to go back for?!

– Finding the most extravagant belay ledge with Amy on South Ridge Direct

If Carlsberg made belay ledges...
If Carlsberg made belay ledges…

– All summiting together after climbing different routes on Dragon Rock

On top of the Dragon
The Dragon’s Back

– Speeding up Pink lady with Ian

Making the most of our time on the rock
Making the most of our time on the rock

– Racing up to Afantizar col to watch the sun go down on the last day of our sensational climbing trip.

The sun sets on our climbing trip
The sun sets on our climbing trip

This time I’m really sure it can’t be beaten…..

Too Cold…

Ian wanted to have an adventure lined up for today and suggested we went to my secret crag to grab a new route. So, after getting Anna and Ian to sign in blood that they’d keep it’s location a secret we headed off.

While the sun was shining it had seemed like a good plan, until we got there and realised just how bloody cold the wicked easterly wind was making it! 😮

Ian getting stuck into a bit of new routing!
Sorry, only the one picture – can’t give too much away. 😉

I had to back off my planned line with numb fingers (I’m hoping it will make a reasonable HVS – maybe a bit easier, maybe a bit harder – won’t really know till it’s done 😎 ). But, Ian completed his steep new line to the right 😛 and Laetitia did a nice easy route (in her big boots) on the left hand side :love: . Not bad for such a cold day. As it was dry, we’d certainly have climbed more if we’d gone to Shepherds, but I think we had the adventure Ian wanted!

[After all that we headed off for our mandatory rewards – tea and cakes!]

Now we just need Ian and Laetitia to let us know what grade they thought the routes were and what they are gonna name them… :mrgreen:

Brrrrrr, cold up at the Napes

With a sunny day forecast, I joined Steve for a day up at the Napes. We weren’t the only ones with this idea. Since Gryff Rhys Jones nearly got to the top of the Needle, it seems to have got very popular. We saw at least a dozen other climbers in the close vicinity.

Steve somewhere on the crag

We started on Eagle nest Ridge direct (MVS), then did long Tom (HVS), both excellent routes on fantastic rock. Unfortunately it had got cloudy by the time we did Long Tom, and my hands had got so cold I couldn’t feel how good the rock was!

Steve on Long Tom…………….. lucky Tom!…. lucky Steve!!!

On the way back we passed a small crag that Steve has been interested in lately and bagged a short new line (at least VD!)

Another good day, but maybe the last of the year on a high mountain crag.

Kelda enjoys the official “best view in Britain”