It was the multi-pitches, especially the bolted ones, that drew me to Morocco. I consider the trip to be very successful, although we had some surprises and the bolting is quite diverse ;)

I included general information about climbing in this area in the article Climbing in Morocco: Todra Gorge. Here you can read about my experience with multi-pitch climbing.

During our trip we did four multi-pitch routes, with 4 (actually 2) to 13 pitches. All marked in the topo (Oxford Alpine Club publications) as fully bolted.

Aiguille des Palmeraies – multi-pitch route Berbertraum (5c)

340 m long route leading to the top of Aiguille des Palmeraies, composed of 13 pitches (4a, 5b, 5c, 4b, 4b, 4c, 3, 4a, 5b, 4a, 5b, 5c, 4a). The longest pitch (graded 3) is 45 m long. The way down you make on foot, and if you need to retreat, you can do it after the 6th pitch, but I don’t know exactly how. There are rappels marked on the topo, but they do not go along the route, but next to it. I’m afraid that finding the first rappel anchor might be troublesome.

According to the information in the guidebook, the route is in the sun all day, but in fact, in the afternoon, shadows begin to appear on the upper pitches. We started climbing at approx. 10 am and from the 7th pitch we were already in the shade.

Here’s the first pitch:

climbing berbetraum route, morocco, todra

The route from start to finish is very well bolted. Of course, on easy fragments less often, but on most of the route the bolts are as dense as on a well-bolted sport climbing route. The only place with a long run-out is the second half of the 10th pitch. The pitch itself is graded at 4a, but that fragment is grade one. However, the lack of bolts meant that we had a problem with spotting the anchor. We finally found it – it’s under a bush.

climbing berbetraum route, morocco, todra

The anchors after the 2nd and 6th pitches are placed on the large ledge. You can relax there and look around the nice area :) The lower rock on the photo is Aiguille du Gue, which we climbed a few days later.

view from berbertraum route, morocco

The last pitch is a walk, after which you reach a few-meter-high rock. On this rock the peak of the Aiguille des Palmeraies is located.

Aiguille des Palmeraies, climbing

Time to enjoy the views…

Aiguille des Palmeraies, landscape from above

… and down. First, a few meters rappel from this rock…

Aiguille des Palmeraies, rappel

… and than walk down.

The descent route goes around the mountain of Aiguille des Palmeraies, roughly as in my track on Strava:

Multi-pitch route Arete Nord (5+)

According to the guidebook, Arete Nord is 465 m long and has 12 pitches (5+, 4, 4, 4+, 5, 5, 4+, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3). It also says that it was a popular trad route for many years, but has recently been fully bolted.

Here it is (the whole route is not visible from below, because a large part of it leads along the ridge). On a hot day, it’s worth starting early, while the route is in the shade.

arete nord, climbing, todra gorge in morocco

The first, most difficult pitch is really well bolted.

arete nord, climbing, todra gorge in morocco

Climbing was very pleasant and as always, the higher the more beautiful.

arete nord, climbing, todra gorge in morocco

Here, however, apart from the fact that it is getting more and more beautiful, I had the impression that there are less and less bolts along with the height. First every few meters… then it became every dozen or so. In two more difficult places, you risk falling from several meters onto the ground.

For safety, it is worth having trad equipment. There are plenty of places to place protection.

But an even bigger problem turned out to be the length of the last few pitches. According to the guidebook, the longest pitches were supposed to be 50 m long and that’s how long our rope was. Twice, however, it turned out to be a few meters too short, once on the pitch, which was supposed to be 40 m long. And here, by the way, I will mention the equipment that, in my opinion, should be treated as mandatory in the mountain area – walkie-talkies. We wouldn’t have had a chance to communicate on what to do in this situation without walkie-talkies, because we hadn’t seen each other and we certainly wouldn’t have heard each other.

Another surprise was waiting for us after the 12th pitch. According to the guidebook, it was supposed to be only a descent, and it turned out that we still had about 120 m ahead of us on a ridge graded about II, not bolted at all.

arete nord, climbing, todra gorge in morocco

We belayed as much as we could using several slings and finally reached the top.

arete nord, climbing, todra gorge in morocco

We didn’t have time to rest and admire the views, because it was already late, and the way down, according to the guidebook, was “not obvious”. And here the author of the guidebook did not make a mistake. There is a verbal description of the descent in the guidebook, but it didn’t help us much, so I won’t describe it, because it probably won’t help you much either. Anyway, I don’t remember much, except that in two places we had to go down a few meters after a kind of dihedral / chimney, the difficulty was more or less II. It’s good that we had contact with friends who managed to come down before sunset and gave us some information (again, thanks to walkie-talkies, because there is no phone reach there).

Generally, you have to follow the rock cairns.

arete nord, climbing, todra gorge in morocco

If you don’t see any for several dozen meters, you probably went wrong. In such a situation, it is best to go back to the last one and look for the next one in a different direction. I don’t recommend just going straight ahead, because you can get to an area that you can’t go down.

Here’s our track, but GPS gets lost in places like this, so treat it as very approximate. There in the middle, where it leads back and forth, we got a little lost, already in the dark ;)

Pieds Dans l’Eau – multi-pitch route Smoufond (6a+)

The guidebook does not specify how many meters this route has or what are the lengths of the pitches, we only knew that there are four (5+, 6a+, 6a, 4+). The route leads to the top of Pieds Dans l’Eau rock. I think it’s about 150 meters.

Pieds Dans l'Eau, todra, morocco

To get under the rock, you have to cross the river.

climbing in todra, morocco, smoufond route

On the other shore there is a small place from which you can belay. Or at least it was with the level of water we found. My guess is that after heavy rainfall the route may be inaccessible.

climbing in todra, morocco, smoufond route

There are bolts every 3-5 meters all the way. The crux, at least for me, was the overhang at the beginning of the second pitch.

climbing in todra, morocco, smoufond route

However later in the dihedral it also wasn’t easy for me. But overall I really enjoyed this route. Interesting varied climbing, and beautiful views of the gorge :)

Once you reach the top, head down to the descent anchor.

There are two rappels. According to the topo, the first one is 45 m and the second 60 m. We were in two teams and climbed on single ropes that we tied to the descent. One rope was 70 m long, and the other one used to be as long, but it was shortened by the ends. And on the second rappel we were about 2-3 meters too high to a comfortable place, so it’s possible that this rappel is a bit more than 60 m.

Aiguille du Gue – multi-pitch route Vole de Defile (6a)

Also to my eye, about 150 m high and according to the guidebook four pitches (6a, 5+, 5+, 3).

Like the previous one, the route starts by the river, but in this case there was nowhere to belay.

morocco, climbing on Aiguille du Gue

So we entered from the left…

morocco, climbing on Aiguille du Gue

… and we made the first anchor at the first bolt. After the Arete Nord experience, we brought some trad equipment with us, so we had more than one point. When climbing, the equipment was not useful, because the route is well bolted, and besides, there were not enough places to put the protection.

We finished the first pitch by the tree from the neighboring La Diedre route. It was only when I was leading the second pitch that I noticed the anchor from our route, but it’s still more convenient by the tree.

It is the second pitch that is the most interesting on this route. It leads with a pillar with a large exposure on both sides. You can sit on it and watch the views :)

morocco, climbing on Aiguille du Gue

The second belay anchor was unscrewed, so a short third pitch must be done together with the second one. In turn, the last pitch, graded at 3, is not bolted at all, but it is a walk without difficulty.

morocco, climbing on Aiguille du Gue

So actually this route has 2 pitches, not 4.

The landscape from the top like this:

morocco, climbing on Aiguille du Gue

To have better views, you can continue climbing to the top of the Aiguille du Grabe. 6a+ and 6b routes go there, both marked as partially bolted.

morocco, todra, Aiguille du Grabe

The previously mentioned La Diedre is also partially bolted. The first two pitches of this route (5, 5+) were made by my friends and apparently it is normally bolted. However, the third pitch (6a) is not bolten at all. It is a crack several meters long and about 10 – 15 cm wide. Due to the fact that La Diedre and Vole de Defile are so close to each other, you can connect them and climb to the top with an easier variant, avoiding the six-graded pitches.

The way down starts from the rappel. A 70-meter single rope was enough to reach a comfortable place.

Then, walk down to the other, i.e. the southern side of the mountain. To the road…

morocco, walk down from Aiguille du Gue

…or as in our case, straight to the hotel :)

morocco, walk down from  Aiguille du Gue

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