American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Africa, Morocco, Taghia, Oujdad, West Face, A Little Less Conversation

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009

Taghia, Oujdad, west face, A Little Less Conversation. In March and April our team of German climbers, accompanied by the British couple Sarah and Tony Whitehouse, spent three weeks at Taghia. We were slow to get moving due to a surprising return of winter, which put down a lot of snow, even at lower levels. When the weather began to improve, three of the team, Erhard Klingner, Peter Kohbach, and Dieter Ruelker, each well over 60 years old and sporting 8,000m- peak experience, repeated some F6 routes. The remaining four of us Germans, Michael Baensch, Tino Kohbach, Tobias Wolf, and I, the “young kids” who were only half that age, forced a new line, ground up, through the center of the west face of Oujdad, one of the few walls in the region that catches sun during the day.

Our progress was slow due to the temperature, only slightly above freezing, and problems recharging our drill batteries in the village. We placed as few bolts as possible, which led to long pitches in order to minimize bolt belays. Toward the end of our time on the wall, a friendly Portuguese climber lent us his drill and fresh batteries. This allowed us to complete the route without much hand-drilling, and we were even able to add a few bolts on some of the longer runouts. Wolf and I both redpointed all eight pitches of the 300m route, with maximum difficulties 7c+, 7a obl. We named the route A Little Less Conversation after the Elvis Presley song, as we had a number of serious discussions about which line to choose and what might be possible in the prevailing conditions. However, people who know our group will also understand another reason for the name.

With spring encroaching deeper into the Atlas, we started to tackle some of the Taghia classics. Most of these are set in deep canyons, facing north; climbing fast was essential to keep warm and avoid freezing the belayer. We repeated La Zebta (eight pitches, 7b+), Les Rivieres Purpures (11 pitches, 7b+/7c), Fantasia (11 pitches, 7c), Làxe du mal (14 pitches, 7c+), Libiti Bito (nine pitches, 7b), and the first seven pitches of Widmo (8a+). In my opinion Làxe du mal deserves a special mention for its varied climbing and perfect rock—some of the best limestone I have ever climbed. The other route I highly recommend is Les Rivieres Purpures, entertaining and sustained climbing that is easy to on-sight.

The area of Taghia, with walls up to 800m, perfect limestone, friendly people, and wild ambience, is a treasure. There is still much potential; only the main gorges rising from the village of Taghia have been developed. The surrounding valleys hold stacks of unclimbed rock for the next generation. It will not be our last visit.

Ruediger Helling, Germany

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