Six club members recently made their first visit to the dramatic anti-Atlas mountains of Morocco, to sample the high quality climbing. The area has been extensively developed over the last few years and now boasts hundreds of routes. They’ve been put up almost entirely by Brits, so you won’t find a bolt – it’s all trad. There are single and multi-pitch routes covering a wide range of grades from VD to E3 and the walk-ins are generally pretty easy – providing you always pay attention to the guidebook (like we didn’t!). Rock quality is very good on the popular crags. There are virtually limitless opportunities for new routing if that’s your thing.
Location & accommodation
The accommodation is as dramatic as the scenery, since the base for most climbers is the Kasbah Tizourgane, a renovated 13th century hilltop fortress. Run by Jamal and Malika, it offers a warm welcome, great views and very good value for bed, breakfast and evening meal. No alcohol though – so you may want to visit duty free before leaving the airport!
The best times to visit are spring and autumn, when it’s generally dry and warm. Admittedly, it snowed high up on our last day, but this was after days of uninterrupted good weather. So, if you enjoy trad in a mountain setting with the added bonus of sun and short walk-ins, then you really should check Morocco out. But book up early – the word is getting out.
More information on climbing in Morocco
What we got up to
Words by Dave Wilkinson
We arrived at Agadir airport. We collected our hire cars (one of which immediately ran our of petrol and had to be pushed to the pump!) and began the two hour drive to the Kasbah.
Sunday 23rd & Monday 24th
Sunday was the first day of climbing, and all six of us climbed on Annamar Crag. This venue offers single pitch routes 5 minutes from the road. We climbed numerous routes from Diff to VS. Andy lost his rucksack, but Guy found it after a sweep search was organised. On Monday we went to Ksar Rock, the crag just to the right of where we climbed on the previous day. This crag offers multi-pitch routes, and we climbed very high quality routes in the HS/VS grades.
The group split: Dave, Carol, Guy & Andy headed to Alabama buttress in the “Golden Cirque”. The approach was delayed though due to insufficient attention being paid to the guidebook!.
Dave & Carol climbed the two pitch HS “Alabama Buttress”. While it gets multiple starts, both pitches (60m and 50m respectively) could, and should, have been split to avoid rope drag. The irony here being too much attention paid to the guide book!
Meanwhile, Andy & Guy did the slightly shorter HS “Ugly Duckling” on a nearby crag, then followed the others up “Alabama Buttress” (and suffered the same rope drag issues!).
John & Sandra went to a different part of the range, the Jebel Taskra. They climbed on Tassguint Crag, doing a multi-pitch HS “L’Attimo FUggente” which turned out to have even more pitches than the guidebook stated.
We declared this a rest day. The team drove to the south side of the range, to visit the only local town, Tafraoute. After visiting the market and sampling the beer in Hotel Amandiers, we drove out to visit a local curiosity – the “Painted Boulders”. Andy couldn’t resist a bit of bouldering, but he strained his shoulder. John lost his rucksack, and again Guy was the one to find it!
Dave was unwell in the morning, which signalled an end to his trip. Those that remained drove over the col at the head of the Afantinazar Valley to visit the “Orange Wall”, a crag just below the col on the Tagzene side. Another roadside crag, the team enjoyed several two and three pitch routes (ranging from S to VS)
Rain threatened, so another easy access crag was chosen – the Atkil Edge in the Sidi M’Zal area.
Guy & Carol did the superb single-pitch VS “Cirque du Soleil”, with Dave having to be content with photography. John & Sandra turned up just in time for the rain. This was the end of the trip, as we flew back on Saturday.