On January 3 James Mehigan, Olly Metherell, and Andrew Stokes-Rees made the first ascent of Fountain Gully on Afella in the Ouanoukrim chain. After a frantic evening of food shopping in Marrakesh, Mehigan and Metherell had their first scary moment when they were led into the labyrinthine streets of the medieval souk at 11 p.m., £400 of shopping piled on a hand cart, by two mischievous locals “helping” them to find their hotel. Stokes-Rees, who had previously climbed several ice routes in the region, flew in next day, and Atlas Walkers (www.atlaswalkers.com) quickly transported all three to the Neltner Hut (3,207m) below Toubkal. After an initial attempt on the 2nd, they climbed the new ice/mixed line the following day.
The approach from the hut took an hour and a half on skis, following the Akoud-Afella Canyon. An initial 80m section of Scottish III led to a snow slope and belay in a corner, above which Stokes-Rees led a 40m mixed pitch of around Scottish 7 (probably about British VS 4c rock on the crux chimney, where there is an in-situ peg). Metherell then led up an ice ramp to a vertical section leading into a deep gully (40m, WI5 and some aid). A final 25m of Scottish 4 in the gully led to a large snowpatch and the finish of the route, which they rappelled. Pressurized water below the surface in the upper section made Fountain Gully seem an appropriate name.
This marks the final expedition of the Super 7 project, which had as its aim a new route on each continent. Metherell had climbed 24-Hour Party People, a direttissima up the south face of New Zealand’s Mt. Aspiring (AAJ 2005); Goya Peak, in India’s Miyar Valley (AAJ 2007); Mt. Cloos, on the Antarctica Peninsula (AAJ 2011); Huaytapallana II, in the Cordillera Blanca (AAJ 2009); Right-hand Chimney and Sioux Wall on Ben Nevis (Europe); and Tower Gully on Hut Tower in Alaska’s Ruth Gorge (AAJ 2008).
Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, from information provided by Olly Metherell