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Climbing in Morocco
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By Sick Naylor
Mar 24, 2014
First time up the diamond

Howdy,

This coming January me and my soon to be wife will be heading to Morocco for our honeymoon. We both are competent climbers and want to explore some of the local climbing areas. I found this guide book online which we will be picking up for the trip: www.moroccorock.com/

What I'm curious about is what can we expect? What kind of potential red tape, local restrictions, transportation hurtles, etc, etc might we encounter. Who has traveled and climbed in the areas out side of Marrakech? What are the not to be missed areas and routes? We are just starting research for the trip and I want to hear what people think and what kind of advice might be out there.

Thanks in advance for any info.

Thanks!


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By AlexQuinn
From PIttsburgh, PA
Mar 24, 2014

Though I've never climbed there, I spent about a month in Morocco a couple summers ago. There looked to be awesome untouched rock everywhere that I never had an opportunity to climb. Super jealous! I'm a little fuzzy on a lot the specifics about the country but I might be able to help a bit.

First thing that comes to mind is that while I was there I saw some bolt anchors while hiking that looked extremely old and unusable. I would suspect this may be a common theme throughout the country so be prepared for that. This may not reflect the more developed areas as I was just looking at some random cliff in the Atlas Mtns. Still, being prepared to climb on gear seems like it would be the best option.

From what I understand the Todra gorge is the main climbing location that has seen the most development (by the Spanish?). The gorge is about 5 hours away from Marrakesh. If you end up trying to make that trip, the main ways to get around in Morocco are by bus, train, or taxi. Unfortunately there isn't a ton of information about these systems online (in English). The easiest (and most expensive) way to get somewhere is by taxi. You can hire a Grand Taxi (as opposed to a Petit Taxi) that will take you long distances and the price is arranged at the time of the trip. The trains and buses are pretty cheap and will probably get you close to your destination but then you'd need to take a taxi to the actually climbing destination. I always bought my tickets at the train or bus station but there may be other options if you go through a travel agency or something. If you can find something to climb near Marrakesh the taxis will be the best bet most likely and are super easy.

As far as red tape goes, I don't know much. I do know that while I was hiking in the Atlas mtns we were being "guided" by a guy and then later in the day we were (questioned/yelled at) by another "guide" who claimed he was the only official guide to the area. It is unclear whether his claim was true (I doubt it) but I wouldn't be surprised if you ran into a similar situation while climbing. Many people in Morocco try to solicit their services for money from tourists. I don't really have any concrete advice other than to not always assume that what you're being told is the absolute truth.

Here's some other things that come to mind more generally:
- Sit and drink coffee or tea (or both) and watch "the flow"
- Drink fresh squeezed juice. There are fresh juice places all over the place. I always ordered "panache" which basically means "mix whatever you want together."
- Eat lamb brain. Every night in the square in Marrakesh the lamb vendors setup shop. I'd spoil it if I told you any more. Do it once. Then never do it again.
- Wander. A place like Morocco is only experienced through randomness. Don't bother with a lot of tours and such. It might be scary at first to end up lost but Morocco is generally very safe and you can always take a taxi back to your hotel/apt.
- French will be very helpful but Arabic, not so much. Standard Arabic (what I "know") is very hard to communicate in because of the dialect difference. Everyone knows French though and a French dictionary would be much easier to use than a Moroccan Arabic (Darija) dictionary.


Anyway, hopefully someone who has actually climbed in Morocco can give more absolute advice but either way you'll have a great time and it will be an adventure. Nothing in Morocco for me was without it's hurdles (language, money, etc.) but if you can learn to embrace the flow and the chaos you will fall in love.

Have fun!


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By ghillie
Mar 24, 2014

Have you looked at this site?

climbmorocco.com/

I've climbed with the founders many times around CO. They will have excellent and current knowledge of the climbing areas. Feel free to contact them for any questions such as as access, best routes, and what to expect.


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By AlexQuinn
From PIttsburgh, PA
Mar 24, 2014

^^ That is awesome ^^


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By mountainhick
From Black Hawk, CO
Mar 25, 2014

We were there a little over a year ago, not to climb, just to travel and see some of Morocco. The only time we were not a target of hustlers was walking in rural areas, and in the company of a few local friends we had made. If you are a foreigner/stranger in a community you are a target. Nothing seemingly scary/dangerous, just stressful. It is inherent in the culture, expect to be hustled constantly when in new places. Learn to say no in Arabic, and make local friends.


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By Ryan-Nelson
From Fort Collins, CO
Mar 26, 2014
NCCC

Sick Naylor wrote:
Howdy, This coming January me and my soon to be wife will be heading to Morocco for our honeymoon. We both are competent climbers and want to explore some of the local climbing areas. I found this guide book online which we will be picking up for the trip: www.moroccorock.com/ What I'm curious about is what can we expect? What kind of potential red tape, local restrictions, transportation hurtles, etc, etc might we encounter. Who has traveled and climbed in the areas out side of Marrakech? What are the not to be missed areas and routes? We are just starting research for the trip and I want to hear what people think and what kind of advice might be out there. Thanks in advance for any info. Thanks!


I just returned from climbing new big routes in the Anti-Atlas Mountain Range. Here is my advice for visiting and climbing in Morocco.

Stay out of the big cities. Marrakech is cool and all, but it's a serious hassle and you always have to bargain for everything (this means everything, except for tobacco). Big cities are also expensive! Comparable or more than american city prices. Concentrate on the small towns(tafarout, oumsnat, tiznit, etc...) you can get nice hotels for $30 usd a night.

Now, When I say bargain, I mean sometimes you have to just walk away and commit to not getting the supplies you need to complete your journey. 95% of the time they tell you to come back for half of the asking price. example, water, bread, chips 9 - 15 dirhams normal, if there asking for 40 dirhams your getting raped.

You won't find too much seafood inland, and also the villages only get fresh produce and meat once a week. So if you plan on eating out all the time, expect the food not to be fresh. Me and my wife lived off of Bananas and Bread, also leader chips)

Forget about drinking alcohol there, unless your in the big cities.
If your in tafarout you can get beer at hotel las amandiers. It's Flag Especial, no other choices. Also order it to go, or they'll bring it out to you on a big silver platter.

You better plan on renting a vehicle, public transportation sucks there. Sixt rents out the Renault Kangoos (Van) <-- highly recommended. $35 a day, everything is a manual as well. On that note, there is really no rules for driving. They make 2 lane roads 3 lane roads, no one stops at lights or signs, and a lot of people drive around with there mirrors in, because majority of the roads are a single lane for both oncoming and incoming(pretty freaky at first, but you get use to passing about an inch from the other vehicle.) Also try not to stop your vehicle out of panic, just keep going. When driving on highways b/w cities, the cops will be out looking for speeders. When driving at night, watch out for the many wild boar that run out in front of you.

CLIMBING!

The rock is definitely varried throughout morocco and there is tons of it, hence the name MO!ROCK!O

Marrakech has so fun sport climbing, Tafaroute is mainly shitty granite bouldering or amazing crack climbing similar to Vedauwoo or Joshua Tree.
The High Atlas has alot of sharp limestone.

The Anti-Atlas has is mainly quartzite.

I would definitely not recommend morocco for sport climbing. You should bring your rack and go climbing in the Anti-Atlas.

On that note you can reference the Guidebooks for morocco rock. They pretty much focus on climbing in the Anti-Atlas.

Important note about the Anti-Atlas. There is tons of rock here, more than yosemite, more than Rocky mountain...

The walls are minutes from the road 5-30min and are big. I'm talking 800M (2,500 ft.) Big (Of course there are plenty of smaller things to climb)

Not a lot of the climbs have had second ascents, and it's quite possible that when you do try to repeat the climb, you'll end up doing a new variation. Me and my wife established 5 new routes including a 180 Meter pinnacle. So bring webbing and a knife for bailing off horns or just rapping off the summit. Great news<-- Most of the climbs are walk-offs and they are easy as shit to find your way back down(meaning good range of vision). A lot of the climbs we did, there ended up being plastic hoses leading us from the summits back to roads or villages. Locals do this to collect water for animals or for drinking, quite spectacular!

Don't let me scare you off of the climbing though. There is literally no approach, and it's rare for bad weather. We climbed everyday from 7am to 7pm. <-- you can easily fit in 10-12 pitch routes in this time frame. You can also do single pitch stuff, or top rope all day for the more inexperienced climbers.

I highly recommend climbing in the taskra gorge, also if your into bouldering this place has got it like mad. Incredible looking boulder problems.

If you do go to Anti-atlas, please consider staying at the Kasbah Tizourgane. They love to host climbers, and they'll serve you a 3-course breakfast and a 4-course dinner everyday! This is how you experience Morocco.........................................

If you stay in tafarout, I recommend staying in Hotel Les Amis. You'll see the NCCC climbing sticker on the front door. Tell them Ryan from NCCC sent you for discount.

Anyways, please feel free to contact me for more information or pictures.

I have pics of large, medium, short walls, boulders, and culture that should help be a guide to whomever.

I'll be writing a blog about my first ascents on the bigwalls of Morocco on www.nococlimbing.org in the next week. Please watch out for it.


highball_morocco
highball_morocco


Tizi Escarpment
Tizi Escarpment


large walls afantazar
large walls afantazar




me and the wife
me and the wife


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By Ryan-Nelson
From Fort Collins, CO
Apr 8, 2014
NCCC

nococlimbing.org/news/new-routin%E2%80%99-morocco


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By kristoffer Erickson
Jul 8, 2014

You should check out the ClimbMorocco guys for your trip. Great guys and can help with all of your logistics during your climbing adventures.

Great country for rock climbing!!!!


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Jul 8, 2014
El Chorro

The climbing is good and plentiful and some helpful resources have been posted up already.

I will only add that you should spend as little time as possible in the cities. I have travelled and lived all over the world and consider myself to be fairly laid back an very open minded. That said, I fucking hated Morocco. The locals were overly agressive (and I am used to this from other places) and sometimes down right threatening. And the way they treated my wife and other women (local and tourists) was appauling.

We did meet a few wonderful people and the farther from the cities we were, the more comfortable we felt. But it is one of the only places I have ever visited that I can say I will absolutely never return.


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By Rob Dillon
Jul 8, 2014

Honeymooned in Tafraoute and Taghia, 2007. Recommendable. We stayed 2 1/2 weeks in Tafraoute, climbing adventure routes and staying at the base of the crags in a 3-room gite run by a French guy and his Moroccan wife. It was wonderful. It's down south and will be perfect in January.

Some French &/or Moroccan Arabic is useful.

We never rented a vehicle or drove. It would be handy for getting around Tafraoute, but the buses and share taxis work. Taghia is a walk-in village, accessible through a canyon. Huge, adventuresome limestone walls and lots of newer sport routes. Pretty amazing place. Taghia was a bit cold in March, I'd hold off til April. Forget about January.

The Berber folks up in the hills are more relaxed than the Arabs down in the flatlands and cities.


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By kristoffer Erickson
Jul 8, 2014

I'm an American mountain guide now living in Morocco for part of the year. I live with my family in Aguddim, the village at the end of the road on the way into Taghia. My wife runs a none profit organization in our region.(atlasculturalfoundation.org) I would agree the time spent in the cities is highly overrated and mostly annoying with the heavy haggling that goes on. Once in the mountains the Berbers will typically shower you with hospitality. That being said. The first time I visited Morocco was back in 2003. My wife and I spent two weeks in the fall climbing in Taghia and fell in love with this place. After our time in Taghia we crossed over the mountains and climbed for a few days in Todra before going crazy with the annoying vibe we got from several of the Moroccans. The climbing was poor in comparison to the experience we had in Taghia and I've never been back to Todra since. Not everyone would agree with my experience there but it is striking in difference from the region where I live. After numerous return visits to Taghia and now having a house there, I've developed several sectors of climbing in my village of Aguddim. It is a magical 700 year old village and a very beautiful spot to visit for climbing before trekking into Taghia. Januaray isn't great given the high altitude and cold temps. Depending on the year and how much moisture, there can be climbing on the sunny aspects. All of the zones south of Marrakech are much better this time of year. If you decide to come back during the spring or fall make sure you put Taghia and the entire Zawiya Ahansal region on your map to visit. It's an amazing experience!


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By Pablo Camacho
From Margalef
6 days ago

I went climbing to morocco last year and had a great time. We went to Chefchaouen, where there's amazing limestone, very similar to El Chorro, minus the people and minus the polish routes. Most of the sectors are roadside in a fantastic place. There are a few sectors with long and tough multipitches that are perfect for winter climbing as they are in the sun all day. There are a few refugees and also a nice hotel that'll run about $50 a night for an awesome suite.

Only caveat is food, at least if you are a vegan. If you are, bring your own food or be prepared to drive to a city to get something to eat. If you don't have dietary restrictions then you're ok.


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