Climbing in Morocco is a unique adventure, how Marmot PROs Jorg Verhoeven (NL) and Katha Saurwein (AT) experienced this year. Read Jorg’s report about their time in the spectacular Taghia gorge:
The Taghia gorge is one of Morocco’s hidden jewels. Carved deep into the Atlas Mountains, the gorge reveals seemingly endless red and brown limestone cliffs, varying in height from 100 to 800 meters. At the lower end of the gorge lies the small Berber village, also called Taghia, several hours away from the nearest road.
Together with Jon Glassberg from the USA and Martina Harnisch from Austria, Katha and I visited Taghia September 2017, meeting its friendly Berber inhabitants, who always welcome one with sweet mint tea and a smile. For two weeks, we got to know the intricacies of climbing in the deep gorge systems, but also learned about the way the simple and honest life of the Berber villagers and the nomads living in the mountains work.
Taghia has been a climbing destination for more than two decades, where mainly French and Spanish climbers visited to explore new walls and put up climbing routes in all grades and styles. Names like Piola, Petit, Larcher, etc. are found in the many route diaries first ascensionists and repeating climbers left behind. To us that meant many routes to repeat, but also many possibilities for new routes.
After climbing some of the classics like Fantasia (7c, 800m), Rivieres Pourpres (7b, 500m) and Barraka (7b, 500m) on the most famous walls, we felt the strong urge to leave our marks on some untouched rock. On the West Face of Oujdad, the remarkable monolith visible from the village, we tried to find a line to freeclimb around an old aid climbing route. After two days of work, the route we named JoKaJoMa (the initials of our team) was bolted and freeclimbed, with difficulties up to 8a (7b oblig.), on bomber water pocketed rock.
Next up was a project that Arnaud Petit had talked to me about before our trip, that he had started 10 years ago, but abandoned due to the high difficulties. This route on the remote Tadrarate wall immediately captured me after our first impressions, and took several days to bolt. Like Arnaud had explained, the first 200 meters start of on easy but exposed slabs, then finish with 250 meters of overhanging smooth limestone. The difficulties will be very high, and freeclimbing it will be a challenge I can only dream of. A project well worthy of spending several years on!
Photo: (c) Jon Glassberg