Taghia, Morroco. A small village in between nothing. No streets. No cars. Energy since three years. Donkeys, dogs and cats. Berbers, a small tribe of people who are happy with what they have. At least since we saw the huge amount of steep rock faces there, we were as happy as our hosts. To get to this paradise we spend two days on a train, an aeroplane, a car and finally by foot, next to donkeys which were carrying our luggage.
The first days of climbing were exciting; we enjoyed the beauty and diversity of the area, explored the walls, and researched approaches and descents. We fell into a daily routine: breakfast, climbing, dinner, socialising, preparing my Dragonfly backpack for the next day, and sleeping. The variety came only at dinner. Two different meals were alternated, tajine with chicken, mutton with egg-tajine and pasta, and always followed by fruit. Every day the soup was the same yellow color, same spicy taste and same creamy texture.
Beside dinner, the climbing routes were as different as can be. In Taghia there are all types of climbing, from hard aid routes (tip: take pitons) to hard sport climbing. The two of us climbed long, overhanging crack routes. And we soloed alpine multi-pitch routes. You have much to talk about at night, and your to-do list gets longer every day.
On the last day, most of the team left our accommodation early. I relaxed in the morning to wait to for the sun to get off my route. It did not take too long, although the heat was unbearable. After two hours of walking, I sat underneath the wall and looked up. Steep for the grade I thought, but that’s good for rope soloing. I climbed the first four pitches fast, passed the crux pitch without a fight and sat for the first not-hanging belay. Looking at the weather, I rushed to the big ledge before a thunderstorm hit the wall. At only 6a+, I climbed on, but it became more wet with every minute. I was forced to solo the last few meters to a high cave, where I could wait out the rain.
The rain stopped, and with two more hard pitches I moved on. The pitches were wet and scary but that’s okay, sometimes that’s what we are looking for. The summit was flat as a plate, making for a challenging rappel, but using a tree and large stones, I managed to get down safely.
Climbing in Taghia is special. Remote and rugged, rescue is not possible. Your options should be clearly measured; good training for future adventures.
Rest days brought variety in our routine; relaxing, playing chess or playing guitar. Sometimes we went into the “supermarket” to buy some Coca-Cola or canned fish - the selection was slim. Some of the team had involuntary rests for various reasons, injury and illness are real concerns.
With each yellow soup at sunset, our days in Taghia become fewer. We wished stay for months and did not want do leave the paradise, but the donkeys and horses were waiting to carry our luggage out of the valley. Returning to Marrakech was a horrible change of pace with extreme heat, pushy people and lots of noise. Saved only by a roof-top swimming pool and a beautiful sundown.
One thing is sure: I will return to this paradise with my drill and finish the lines that are already in my mind! See you again Taghia!