Tafraout Area, Many New Routes
Development of the quartzite crags in Morocco’s Anti-Atlas Mountains has continued at a steady pace during the last few winters, with several hundred mid-grade routes being added to crags across the Jebel el Kest and Jebel Taskra massifs. These are described in a new guidebook to the area, Moroccan Anti-Atlas, published by the Oxford Alpine Club in March 2017. (See AAJ 2016 for an introduction to this area.) Of particular note were ascents of a number of harder crag routes, including Andi Turner and Bob Thomas’ free ascent of the previously aided The Almighty (E6 6b) on Dragon Buttress in Samazar, and the free ascent of Dangleberries (E7 6b) on Upper Eagle Crag by Pete Johnson and Twid Turner.
The area is also known for its long traditionally protected climbs, and several noteworthy ascents have been recorded recently. On Anergui’s Upper Crag, S. Broatch, M. Mortimer and G. Widowson have reported Aquila (335m, HVS 5a), which climbs the full height of this impressive mountain crag. [All climb lengths mentioned in this article cover climbing distance, not vertical gain.] Anti-Atlas regulars Graham Everitt, Bruce Kerry, and Ian Wilson made the first ascent of a very remote crag above Ameln’s Lion’s Face via the Lion’s Tail (200m, HVS 5a). Also of note, given the popularity of this region amongst mid- and lower-grade climbers, is the ascent of the region’s longest climb to date: Millennium Ridge (1,500m, V.Diff) on Upper Prophet Peak at Tagdicht, by Lina Arthur and Steve Broadbent in January 2018.
On the north side of the range, Bob Brewer and Dai Lampard added You Can Rest When You’re Dead (120m, E4 6a) to Dinosaur Wall, and opened up the Big Bertha Crag with their ascent of the Edge of Eternity (170m, E5 6a). First ascents have also been reported on newly developed crags above the town of Idaougnidif, including Shiver Me Timbers (E5 5c) by Neil Adams, Dan Donovan, and Paul Eastwood. Meanwhile, on the Thumb at Asseldrar—home to many of the region’s long testpieces—G. Dawson and S. Smith reported the first ascent of Rockfall Got My Goat (235m, E4 6a).
Finally, considerable development has also taken place on the granite tors around Tafraout, which now boast a large variety of crack and slab climbs, as well as a number of fully bolted sport crags. A new guidebook, Tafraout Granite, is due for publication by the Oxford Alpine Club in summer 2018.
— Steve Broadbent, U.K.