25 03 2010
I’m on my favourite holiday of the year with a bunch of old friends at Tafroute in the Anti Atlas of Morocco. You fly into Agadir and it’s about a three hour drive south to Tafroute, which is in the centre of some of the best adventure climbing I have ever done – mile upon mile of Quartzite rock with routes from single pitch to 300 metres and still huge potential for new routes.
We stay at the Hotel des Amandiers, which works out at about £30.00 a night full board with wine and beer. Les Brown, left in the above picture, discovered it twenty years ago and has been coming ever since. Joe Brown came for many years – and yes we are all on the old side – I’ve been coming for nine years and we are still all doing new routes.
This year my climbing partner is Graham Little with whom I’ve been climbing off and on for 25 years – we first met when I was president of the BMC and he was chairman of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland.
The pictures above show our first new route on the North Dowalous Tower – 250 metres, HVS with one 5a pitch – we called it Unbalanced Hand (we also have a keen bridge team for the evenings).
Our hardest climb to date is the Grand Slam – 180m, E2, 5c. It had seven pitches of which three were really hard – Graham led them and I needed a really tight rope (he’s 14 years younger than me) but it was a brilliant climb. We took five and half hours on it and only got back down to the car just before dark.
After the Grand Slam I felt I needed a bit of rest from hard climbing. Graham went off with Mike Mortimer and I joined up with old friends Derek Walker and Claude Davies. Derek and I were together on the Central Tower of Paine back in 1963 and have climbed together off and on ever since while Claude Davies is one of the original pioneers of the area and wrote the excellent guide to the Anto Atlas, published by Cicerone Press.
We did a new route on the south side of the range giving a short drive and walk to the foot of the climb and called it 222 – the sum total of our joint ages!!! It gave three fun pitches and was just about severe 4a.
Tomorrow Graham and I are moving to the Kasbah, further to the north to try some new routes in that direction.