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Morocco – birthday climbing

Not many people decide to get up at 6:30 on their birthday, for me however it was good to wake up early. We’d packed our bags both for the days climbing and for moving hotel. Mohammed had shown us the location of the bakery and we were there for opening time at 7:00. Before rapidly hitting the road round to the crags of Tizim Waylim. We ate the pastries we’d picked while driving round so we were at the base of our climb for 8:45 ish. It was pleasantly cool in the shade (or maybe I’d just grown used to the heat) and nice to be out of the baking sun. The vistas of the massif in the early morning light where also stunning.

Mungo was up for leading off so we racked up and he set off trying to follow the vague line on the photo of our chosen route (above and beyond hvbs 5a). Pitch one was a bit flakey with the rock having a loose feel to it however this soon changed as the rock cleaned up amend a perfect belay location was reached. This was about 30 metres up. Two pieces of gear had been placed by this point so we gave block leads a go. I quickly re-flaked the rope whole Mungo had a nose at the guide. Within a couple minutes he’d set off again and disappeared out of site over a lip that turned out to be the crux of the route. Some shouting later it transpired he was very run out but on steady slabby ground. A while passed before a woop and a shout of ‘I’ve some gear’ came down. A while longer and another shout this time of ‘safe’. I set off up the pitch, passing the bulge and covering very Avon like ground. It was fun absorbing but thought free climbing. The kind I really enjoy. Mungo’s belay turned out to be two solid cams and a dodgy nut he’d bounce tested over a semi hanging stance.

The line of our climb
The line of our climb

I took over the lead hear and made swift progress over easy ground to reach some solid nuts and built a bomber belay. A few more moves after trading gear again and we’d topped out just as the sun came onto the face. Perfect timing.

We new time was on our side for the rest of the day so played around with coils and moving together techniques on the rocks at the top of the climb (Mungo hadn’t used coils before so it was good to do some learning before it was required on the job.)

A walk through flows and fig trees lead us back to the car for a bite to eat and a plan for the afternoon.

Moroccan flowers
Moroccan flowers

There was still a parallel valley for us to explore. This time though it was unpaved. Thankfully we opted to go down this, completing a loops past the crags. The drive itself was like something out of top gear. Complete with overheating car, rally style cornering to make up some hairpins and rough rutted track all the way. It was an absorbing two and a half hours.

Top Gear Style Drive
Top Gear Style Drive

We then headed back to Tafraoute picking up a hitcher on the way to do our good deed.

Moving into our new hotel it became quickly apparent why it was cheaper. The promised air con was missing and the main facilities were communal not ensuit like we’d been shown. However the proprietor was friendly and it does have WiFi so we can’t really complain.

Another three course Moroccan feast was had for dinner though I’m sure a big bunch of this will be sweated out tonight given how hot it is as I type this. Why did we leave the comfortable hotel with a pool again? – still, up at 6:30 again tomorrow for more climbing. A bit of suffering never did me any halm and teaching my body to sleep anywhere still can only be a good thing.

One year older but still looking to live that dream.

Crags as far as the eye can see
Crags as far as the eye can see

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