Sunday March 23th (2014) I was with some friends climbing Ksar Rock in the Afantizar area, in Tafraoute, Morocco. It's an amazing climbing area with many crags (only trad! virtually nothing equipped, or very poorly).
Stefan Priem and me (Mike Bachman) climbed 'Grand Hotel' (starting on the east face), and observed a beautiful line.. it was nowhere to be found in the guidebooks, so we decided to climb it march 25th. It was great!
After checking with Steve from the Oxford Alpine club, it was confirmed that this was probably a first ascent and will be included in future guidebooks.
We decided to name the route 'Vertigo', which has been lingering for some time.
It is a 3 pitch 100m route, and we suggest for gradation 5B/E1/Bold
(note: the 5B is British Tech gradation, approx. french 6a+/6b)
Pitch 1 30m
suggested grade (british) 5A/E1
Climb the big crack for 3m, then to the right. Technical move halfway, then proceed to the big tree on the terrace over easier slabs to make a block belay.
Pitch 2 40m
suggested grade (british) 5B/E1 bold
From the terrace, climb the slightly overhanging crack nearest to the tree. The crack might create some pumpiness! Near the end, bend of to the right and go to the terrace. From then on climb easily to the 3rd terrace for a belay point.
Pitch 3 (=half of pitch 6 east buttress) 30m
4a / bold
Climb the easy crack directly in front to the top of the big boulder, then join and finish with the 6th pitch of East Buttress
Mike on pitch 1
Stefan on the bold pitch 2
Relaxing last pitch 3, with finish of the route top right
About climbing in Tafraoute
Near Tafraoute, very much beautiful traditional climbs can be found (rental car advised!). It is.... huge! It may be rare to encounter lots of other climbers.
Most of the climbs are multi pitch climbs without any equipment at all (and, as for the ethics, the whole area must never be equipped!), with a wide variety of difficulty levels. The stone is quartzite, which climbs very pleasantly.
Mind that sufficient experience in trad climbing is absolutely required, as well as some creative skills regarding route finding and belay construction.
Excellent guidebooks are available from the Oxford Alpine club, and in the 4* hotel in Tafraoute one can frequently encounter fellow climbers. Don't forget to check the route proposal books available at the hotel!
More information about climbing in Tafraoute can be found at the climb-tafraout website: http://www.climb-tafraout.com
and the corresponding Facebook page (although I myself do not have Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/ClimbTafraoute
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