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TAGOUIMMT N'TSOUIANNT, FANTASIA
Posted on: December 1, 2005
Eliza Kubarska on Fantasia (7b+/c, 700m) on the northeast face of Tagouimmt N’Tsouiannt, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco. With help from Przemek Klimek, Kubarska and David Kaszlikowski established the route ground up, then returned to free it in two days in late May. Kubarska and Kaszlikowski report that the limestone walls of Taghia are growing increasingly popular with European climbers. [Photo] David Kaszlikowski
Hidden in Morocco's High Atlas Mountains, the massive limestone walls and deep canyons of Taghia form a labyrinth of crags. Upon entering Taghia, you become fascinated by two great walls. The first is a 700-meter "tooth," Oujdad; the other, Tagouimmt N'Tsouiannt, is, at 800 meters high, one of the largest walls of the Atlas. In 2004 Borek Szybinski, Eliza Kubarska and I opened Barracuda (7c+, 590m) on Oujdad. This year, the northeast face of Tagouimmt N'Tsouiannt—the smoothest part of which resembles the rock of the Verdon Gorge—became our project.
On April 21 Eliza Kubarska and I started work on our new route. Przemek Klimek helped us open the upper section. We led the line from the bottom up, drilling while hanging from sky hooks, via a combination of free and aid, with the assumption that it would eventually be free climbed.
Most of the wall is slabby, without protection other than bolts, up until Pitch 13. There—on easy terrain—we installed only a single bolt at the stances. We didn't use a portaledge; instead, we fixed about 400 meters of rope and rapped down to sleep in the village every night. On May 23 and 24 (with one bivouac) Eliza Kubarska and I made the redpoint ascent.
Because of our exhaustion, the ascent took us two days. A few days before the ascent, my inner ear became inflamed and I had trouble walking and keeping my balance. After four days I felt well enough to try the climb. Not long into the route, though, I realized that I was still having trouble with my balance. The first few pitches I fought to overcome the feeling of dizziness. At that time I was still uncertain whether I would even be able to lead the more difficult pitches. Fortunately, after a couple of hours, the malady passed, and the sixth pitch—the first crux—went smoothly.
Although we had a very comfortable bivouac (a 1.2-meter-wide ledge), we were out of water by morning. Dry wind and the effort we put into the climb tired us out completely. By evening we were seriously exhausted, tasting thick saliva and seeing black spots.
Fantasia (7b+/c, 700m) is one of the most diverse routes in Taghia, and one of the longest free climbs in the Atlas Mountains, comprised of chimneys and dihedrals mixed with slabs. The magnificent canyons of Taghia in the background just sweeten the ambience.
David Kaszlikowski, Warsaw, Poland