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By Todd Snyder
From: South Lake Tahoe
Apr 3, 2016
Todgha Gorge route notes from March 2016. The guidebook we used was "Todra" pocket guide (oxfordalpineclub.co.uk), 1st edition, 2015. The pocket guide is good but lacks some details - here are the notes I took while climbing at Todgha
We flew into Marrakech & had already arranged a taxi pickup via our 'riad' (Dar Ihssane - airbnb.com). I would HIGHLY recommend arranging your stay & taxi that way; being our first time in Morroco, we had no idea how things worked or how confusing things can be! We considered renting a car & are VERY glad we did not; traffic is *craazy*! The taxi fee from airport to the Medina was 160dh & our room with breakfast was 660dh for 2 nights. I would recommend Dar Ihssane - it is surprisingly quiet for being so close to Jamaa el Fna (10 minute walk).
From our room, we walked to Palais de la Bahia, Palais El Badiî & Tombeaux Saadiens very easily all in one day. These are great, historical sites well worth seeing. Also, of course, time in the Jamaa el Fna can't be missed; snake charmers, drum circles, tea stands, booths upon booths of goods & food.
We took the bus from Marrakech to Tinghir (supratour.com) for 130dh each. You must buy the ticket in advance; have the host of your riad get the ticket for you, they are all so helpful. It's an easy 20dh taxi ride from the medina to be bus station (or ~3km walk). Be sure to buy a ticket for your bag(s) at the station (20dh each?) as they'll go in the luggage compartment. These are modern, comfy buses; it stopped only twice in the ~8hr trip, each long enough to use the toilet & have a snack or meal. We stayed a night in Tinghir at Retour el Calme; highly recommended as its a lovely setting overlooking the river & away from city street noise. We paid 210dh for the night with breakfast & another 50dh for dinner for both of us!
You will easily find many 'friends' willing to help you to a riad, etc. If you arrange lodging at Todra Gorge in advance, most riads will pick you up in Tinghir when you arrive but you should make those arrangements. Otherwise, a grand taxi will cost 10dh each or 60-70 for a private car. We stayed at Dar Ayour & loved it! Super friendly, great food, very nice place (450dh/nt with breakfast & dinner & we had leftover for lunch!!). We talked with other climbers that stayed at Etoiles le Gorge for 220dh/nt with breakfast & lunch. Others camped atop Maison d'hôte but not sure their price but am sure it was cheap.
Plage Mansour Left:
Approach: Access this crag by walking along the aqueduct from the bridge at the gorge entrance.
#5. Unnamed, 6c: first bolt is really high but easy & secure climbing to reach it; another option is to do the 'new' route on the right (see below) & clip the bolt while lowering off. Well protected & fun sequential crux about half-height, then another less-cruxy sequence at 3/4-height. Good & easy climbing thereafter to the anchor. Anchor was 2 bolts each with screw-links , not equalized (causes rope twist!), 35m, ***
#5a. Start from a good ledge up & right of #5, first bolt is on a slab. The route is interesting & well-bolted but still a bit dirty. 35m, **
#7. L'Habitation des Etoiles, 6a+: Guide shows 2 pitches but the second pitch was not apparent - only 1 bolt far above the anchor & none others visible. Only first pitch done. Unremarkable, safe with a good anchor, 30m
#8. Voie Rosbif, 7a+: Very sharp & positive holds, felt a bit far between bolts but safe. I equalized the anchor & left a screw link. Starts with steep & big holds, then the crux @ 2nd bolt (side pulls with them feet to a jug to clip); then thin, technical climbing past the next bolt. Slightly easier & thin climbing to the anchor, 25m, **
#9. Inchallah, 6a+: Lower angle, fun climbing on mostly small holds. Somewhat sustained with no distinct crux, 28m, *
#17. Amigo Mia, 6c+: Steep climbing on good, sharp holds for the first half. The second half is very thin for hands & feet as well as somewhat sharp, 28m, **
#18. Unnamed, 6a: Fun moves with good holds that are not sharp. Straightforward, well-bolted with a good anchor, 30m,**
#19. Castorama, 6b: Optional boulder start or climb the right side to the boulder's top. A thin, technical move off the boulder to a few more easier & technical moves. Very fun but very short, 15m, ***
#19a. Shared anchor with #19 - steep jugs to start, then a few steep, technical moves followed by fun climbing to the anchor. Very short but fun, 15m, ***
#20. Amiga Mia, 6b: A steep start with big holds to fun climbing. Holds are all positive but kind (not sharp!). Great route, well bolted, 22m, ***
Approach: This is a no-brainer! LOL
#9. Generator, bolts have been removed!
#10. 125 Anniversaire, 6c+: Relatively easy climbing up the arete with a lot of pigeon poop! The finish is steep, off-angle & sharp, 26m, *
#14. Saracosta, 6a+: Sharp & somewhat unremarkable but not bad, 30m, *
#15. U Cufi es Mesfi, 6a: good climbing with no particular crux, fun, 30m, **
Approach: Walk through the gorge or drive until it widens to parking areas on the left & right. Choose any way to cross the river & walk between gardens to the rock face.
#10. Rainy Days, 6a: Only did 1st pitch - really fun, quality rock. Well-bolted but distance between bolts; all hard moves protected, 28m, **
#11. Roman et Lili, 6a: Very fun climbing on good rock that is not too sharp or polished. Enjoyable, 28m, **
#12. Le Mer le Blue, 6a: Start up a steep wall with many bolts! Great moves on good rock with varied features & fun movement. Eases off but stays fun to the anchor, 28m, ***
Pilier du Couchant:
#1. Voie Albert, 6a+:
Approach: We did this route 13March16 & it did not get sun until noon or a little after; it was still very cool in the shade but perfect in the sun. We waded the river barefoot - the water wasn't as cold as we expected & never more than knee deep & the rocks were mostly smooth. The start is pretty obvious off a blocky ledge to the left of the tree.
Route notes: The belay anchors are good (2 bolts) but not "equalized" - they have chord connecting the bolts & a rusty screw link in the lower bolt. The route *could* be rapped with an 80m role but the walk off is so casual, it wouldn't be worth it.
We completed the route in 4 pitches: P1 & P2 @ 70m - the crux of P1 comes about 25-30m up & is thin, technical & airy. P2 is straightforward & gives no rope drag. Belay ledge is sloping but good. P3 & P4 @ ~66m - airy climbing with quite a ways between bolts to an excellent belay ledge. If you don't feel solid on 6a climbing, cams can be placed often (*maybe* nuts if you're clever). P5 & P6 @ ~76m - We went slightly right, following the "as for Classique". There can be a lot of drag unless long runners are used at the appropriate places. Not so great sloping stance with 2 new bolts (no chord). P7 & P8 @ ~76m - these pitches are much lower angle with much further between bolts. Following the bolt line, everything is solid, don't get too far off route or it can be loose. The rock is also more blocky & can appear loose but all felt solid. From this anchor, we walked to the top in about 10m of 4th class to 3rd class.
The walk down is obvious & easy - the trail down can be seen from the summit. Look for cairns heading away from the face and slightly down & right. At a point where the cairns seem to lead to a cliff, you will find an easy ramp system down & left to the well-travelled trail that leads to the road. Decent took less than 40 minutes.
Approach: After walking or driving through the gorge to the "Summer Gardens" parking (both sides of road just over bridge), find the vague trail on the right side of the parking opposite the summer gardens. Look for cairns up the right side of the drainage & the trail will become more obvious. Near the crag, you can walk right along some ramp systems to arrive at Dos Canas. The crag becomes shaded around 13:30 in mid-March.
#6. Afrique Physique, 7a: The name says it - physical, steep and fun! A must do, 6 bolts, 20m, ***
#7. Trois Petite Trous, 7a+: Fantastic, varied climbing with steep pockets & jugs to thin, technical moves followed by slab to more steep, exposed climbing to the anchor. Brilliant! Shaded at 14:40 (March), 11 bolts, 30m, ***
#8. Hilti Fada, 7b: Steep with smaller & more sloping holds than appears from the ground. Very technical & hard at the start & finish, 11 bolts, 30m, ***
#9. Aigle Noir, 6c+: nice start but the holds are more sloping than they appear! Short, hard for the grade & awkward, 7 bolts, 23m, *
#13. Unnamed, 6a: A fun, short route that shares the anchor with #14 Good moves on positive holds, 7bolts, 21m, **
#14. laisir de Grimpe, 7a+: Technical moves to start followed by excellent, sequential edges up the slightly overhanging headwall. Short & more fun than it looks, 6 bolts, 20m, **
#20. Bricolor, 6b: Interesting & fun climbing to the overhang. Well-protected, short headwall crux with great moves & exposure. Shaded at 13:30 (March), 8 bolts, 24m, ***
#21. Jardin D'Hiver, 6b: Decent, easy climbing to the overhang. Steep, big moves with buckets to easier climbing to the same anchor as #20. Shaded at 13:30 (March), 8 bolts, 24m, ***
#22. Cupidon, 6c: Seemed contrived at bolts 3-4 to stay off the route on the right. The moves over the steep part felt easier than 6c but were still fun. Shaded at 13:30 (March), 8 bolts, 24m, *
Petite Gorge Right:
This crag is sunny until 14:30 (mid-March).
#7. Prisamata Amigo, 5: Good holds, no particular crux, well protected, 28m, 10 bolts, *
#8.Unnamed, 5+: Nice but unremarkable, 28m, ?bolts
#11. Gabatxos, 6b: Really fun stemming start to good climbing with a nice finish! 28m, ?bolts **
Petite Gorge Left:
This crag is shaded until 14:30 (mid-March), then sunny until 16:00 (then shaded again).
#5. Bihar, 7a+: Easy climbing up the slab - use long slings on the first 3-4 draws to avoid rope drag. A short, steep headwall with only a couple tricky moves, 7 bolts, 20m, *
#6. Desillusion, 6c+: We did only the first pitch - quite a distance between bolts but still safe. Felt about 6b, fun & worth doing, 8 bolts, 30m, **
#7. Saiji, 6a: Good climbing with good protection, no particular crux, 30m, *
#16. Ensalada Metalica, 7a: An awesome route! Steep start (stick clip is nice) followed by easier but technical climbing to a sit-down rest. Then, climb the amazing, overhanging headwall on good holds with great moves! An afternoon send provides great photo opportunity! 10 bolts, 26m, ***