That last few late nights and early starts were beginning to catch up with us today.
The original plan was to head for some shade, and the Dwawj Slabs sounded like the perfect venue. Described as both ‘a place to escape the heat’ and ‘best on the hottest days’ they sounded ideal for our late season visit. Like all plans however this one was set to change.
I don’t even remember the first two alarms in the morning, luckily the third woke us and we were only 45 minutes behind schedule. Also the late night the day before had left us completely in packed and unorganized for a prompt start so it took us an hour to get going. All this combined with the usual food shop left us arriving at the slabs around 10:30 without having eaten breakfast. The slabs were also bathed in beautiful hot sunlight. Just what we had wanted to avoid. A quick look at the guide did confirm they were supposed to face north west.
So after some discussion and a bite to eat we decided that we’d scope out a few of the other crags in the area and see if we could find some shady short routes before an early return to maximise the following day. We headed off with this new plan taking the unreliable car up a dusty track to scope out one of the high crags in the region before deciding the the sun was going to arrive on it just before we could get even one pitch up on any of the routes. The Tagzene Gorge sounded a better alternative promising shade at any time of day, it being a gorge and only a few more km up the road. Back in the car we headed on.
The parking was straightforward and the walk in to the gorge was a stunning meandering path beside the river bed through cultivated barley fields studded with the odd almond tree before it descended into the most amazing rock cleft with a boulder strewn base. We had a nose up and down this to get our bearings before deciding to plumb for a new line on the aptly named ‘shadow wall’. Mungo had worked out a gap between to of the easy routes which frequent this wall, and I thought it looked doable. He offered me the lead.
The climbing was fun with adequate but spaced gear and jugs wherever you needed them. It follows the obvious broken buttress above the blankest part of the slab. The rock was mostly solid and third climbing was never hard but was enthralling. Not a classic but my first ever new route so something to be proud of. Its called ‘One For Stemma’ in honor of Emma who didn’t make the trip. (The reason for Stemma not Emma is another story).
The second route we tried was another new line though this one more broken. Mungo took the lead this time and the route description would go something like: “Start below the lowest point of shadow wall, scrambling easily up the broken arête until just below the obvious clefted overhang, cut round this to the left to be presented with four nice wall moves which feel all too short lived before the way arête leads to the finish, VD”. Mungo decided to name this Camel-mile Tea.
Finally the sun had moved from the classic of the crag so we quickly headed over to have a go at that. The route is called Djinn and proved delicate and balancy while still providing steep airy climbing. It would have justified the day on its on and is well worth making time for if you’re in the area.
A potter back to the car while again taking in the stunning scenery took us to four forty five so we headed back for a refreshing swim in the pool.
Relaxed and content we decided to head into town for some mint tea at the Tanger (as recommend in the guide and worth a mention). We then bumped into one of Mohammad the carpet sellers seemingly extensive network of contacts. We indulged him with some of our time and were rewarded with some local recommendations for both cheaper accommodation and good places to eat. A meal at one of these recommended places and paying up our last night in the Amandiers finished off a very successful day.