TAGHIA CIRQUE

Posted on: March 1, 2003


Arnaud Guillaume and Christian Ravier explore the Tahgia Cirque’s "embarrassment of riches" on the first ascent of Be Strong, Eat Pork (ED 6c+ A2, 150m). [Photo] Remi Thivel

Arnaud Guillaume, Christian Ravier and I were in Morocco, in the Taghia Cirque, from September 30 through October 10. The little village of Taghia is located high in the Atlas Mountains on the north slope of the M’Goun chain. It is possible to climb here in April or May, and then in September and October. In the summer it is very hot, and the winters are severe.

On October 3 and 4 we opened Scents of Berberechos (ED 6b+, 400m) on the western face of the first large wall on the right bank of the Akka N’Tazarte River. After fixing three pitches the first day, we slept at the base and then the following day completed the route in eight hours under a threatening sky that brought rain by evening. Red cracks and gray slabs similar to the walls of the Montsech Sierra in Spain produced a very beautiful route.

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On October 5, Arnaud and Christian opened a sumptuous and long crack, Be Strong, Eat Pork (ED 6c+ A2, 150m), on the left bank of Akka N’Tazarte.

October 7, 8 and 9 were devoted to opening the route Red Berber (ED+ 7b, 560m), an amazing crack on the western face of the Tadrarate left of the 1975 Etrave Pillar. The first day we fixed three pitches and on the following day began with the intention of either topping out during the day or rappelling. We equipped anchors for the descent up to pitch 6, at which point the route took us into an area of overhangs where retreat became a problem. We were caught by darkness on pitch 10, in light clothing and with no food. We spent a very disagreeable night in the bottom of a narrow chimney swept by the winds of a low pressure system to the north that didn’t miss the opportunity to dump its fog and intermittent rain on us. The following day we topped out in three pitches, chilled to the bone and distressed. The route is characterized by wide cracks and slots, and the difficulties are consistently in the 6b/c range with a crux of 7b.

— Remi Thivel, France

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