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New Routes in Morocco

Cool music and hot rock

This 1st ascent was lead in 6 pitches by Mike “Twid” Turner and seconded by Nigel Braggins (filming with GoPro head cam on helmet mount) and Martin Bischoff.  The route was named “Keep Taking the Pillars” because of its proximity to the 2* Classic “Multiple Pillars of Pleasure”, also graded HVS, first climbed by Messrs. Bonnington and Little (yes that Bonnington), 4 years ago.

“Keep Taking the Pillars” has the makings of another classic and shares a brief move with the Bonnington/Little route, at the airy step from the top of the final pillar to regain the main wall (01:55 in the video), before the 6th pitch.

We climbed the 280m route in 6 pitches but one of these was a full 60m run out, so probably better to repeat it in 7 pitches (using 60m ropes).

Twid recorded the route in the New Routes book at the Kasbah Tizourgane. It will be included in the next supplement of “Morocco Rock”, the excellent guide book to this remote area. In fact, the only other climbers at the crag were “Crack Addicts”, Emma Alsford and Paul Donnithorne, publishers of the guide book. They appear in the video, high on an adjacent buttress, as they climb another new route.

The music soundtrack is the icing on the rock cake. It is a chord-rich, instrumental arrangement of Bill Withers’ classic “Lovely Day” and was played and recorded especially for this video by “Shorthand”, the talented Hertfordshire based acoustic guitar duo of Tom Braggins and Rohan Byrt. More info and contact details for inquiries and bookings here www.shorthandmusic.com

 

Monkey Shoulder – E5 6a 1st ascent, Morocco

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Emma Alsford going for it on "Monkey Shoulder" E5 6a on the previously undiscovered crag "The Lizard", Tizi Escarpment, Anti Atlas, Morocco.

Emma Alsford going for it on “Monkey Shoulder” E5 6a on the previously undiscovered crag “The Lizard”, Tizi Escarpment, Anti Atlas, Morocco. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge.

Emma Alsford leading the first part of the first ascent of Monkey Shoulder. Twid's route "Lizard of Oz" goes up the steep wall above the corner in deep shadow behind.

Emma Alsford leading the first part of the first ascent of Monkey Shoulder. Twid’s route “Lizard of Oz” goes up the steep wall above the corner in deep shadow behind. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge.

This was a stunning line in a fantastic location. Emma's deceptively relaxed position in this picture belies the difficulty and strenuous nature of the route. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge to full size.

This was a stunning line in a fantastic location. Emma’s deceptively relaxed position in this picture belies the difficulty and strenuous nature of the route. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge to full size.

“Relaxed?” Emma said “I gave up 2/3 of the way up the route and then Paul finished it. Siege tactics I’m afraid. Anyway, definitely an E5 I want to go back for… Monkey Shoulder is one of the most awesome climbs I’ve done in a long while and I intend to crush it in October.”

Paul Donnithorne bridging out near the crux of the 1st ascent of "Monkey Shoulder", Tizi Escarpment, Anti Atlas, Morocco. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge to full size.

Paul Donnithorne bridging out near the crux of the 1st ascent of “Monkey Shoulder”, Tizi Escarpment, Anti Atlas, Morocco. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge to full size.

Monkey Shoulder? Any relationship between a blended malt whiskey favoured by some climbers and the name of this route is probably coincidental.

Paul Donnithorne well on the way to completing the 1st ascent of "Monkey Shoulder", at the previously undiscovered crag "The Lizard", Tizi Escarpment, Anti Atlas, Morocco. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge to full size.

Paul Donnithorne well on the way to completing the 1st ascent of “Monkey Shoulder”, at the previously undiscovered crag “The Lizard”, Tizi Escarpment, Anti Atlas, Morocco. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge to full size.

This new trad route will be written up in the next supplement of “Morocco Rock” but in the meantime a rough topo diagram, showing the approximate lines of the six 1st ascents, climbed on the same day at this section of the previously undiscovered crag “The Lizard”, can be seen here. All photos © Nigel Braggins 2014

“Lizard of Oz” E5 6a first ascent, Morocco

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Twid getting stuck in on the 1st ascent of "Lizard of Oz" at the previously undiscovered crag "The Lizard"

Twid getting stuck in on the 1st ascent of “Lizard of Oz” E5 6a. Previously undiscovered crag “The Lizard”, Tizi Escarpment, Anti Atlas, Morocco. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge to full size.

On a recent trip in search of new trad routes in the Anti Atlas of Morocco, we explored a previously undiscovered crag. Before placing the first wire, Twid was startled by a reptilian that darted out from a handhold.

Combined with the extended profile of this striking feature on the Tizi Escarpment, “The Lizard” became the obvious name for the crag and provided a theme for the names of five first ascents that day. The name of the sixth new route “Monkey Shoulder”, may well have been inspired by a fine, blended malt whisky – but that’s another story.

Twid pulling hard on the 1st ascent of "The Lizard of Oz" E5 6a at the newly discovered crag "The Lizard" on the Tizi Escarpment, Anti Atlas, Morocco. Click on the image then click again to enlarge to full size.

Twid pulling hard on the 1st ascent of “The Lizard of Oz” E5 6a at the newly discovered crag “The Lizard” on the Tizi Escarpment, Anti Atlas, Morocco. Click on the picture, then click again to enlarge to full size.

The image below shows an overview of the section of the Lizard that received our attention on our first visit. Paul Donnithorne (in blue) can be seen at the top of route 5 belaying Emma Alsford (green) at third height in the crack line on route 6. Click on the image and then click again to enlarge to full size.

Lizard-Crag-overview

The Lizard rears up 1.5kms South East of Doudat and South West of Assldrar on the Tizi Escarpment in the Moroccan Anti Atlas. The rock is predominantly sound quartzite and and offers plenty of potential for many more high quality routes.

Nigel-6653

Nigel being brutally punished by the “Lizard of Oz” E5 6a.

IFMGA Mike “Twid” Turner, Martin Bischoff and KragRags founder, Nigel Braggins, made up one team – Emma Alsford and Paul Donnithorne made up the other. These six 1st ascents on 24th March were written up in the new routes book at Kasbah Tizourgane for inclusion in the next  supplement of Crack Addicts’ “Morocco Rock” guide book to Jebel el Kest & Taskra North.

All photos © Nigel Braggins 2014.

Well ‘Ard – Morocco new route

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Twid enjoying a comfy belay at the top of the 4th pitch.Twid enjoying a comfy belay at the top of the 4th pitch of “Well ‘Ard” a new 1* route near “Deep Well Pinnacles” in the Ida Ougnidif area of the Moroccan Anti Atlas. Click picture to enlarge.

If Twid had racked his brush cutter he might have found it easier to lead this new route. As it was, all the gardening was done by hand and in Morocco, gardening can be spikier than a very spiky thing.

Well-'Ard-to-car-park-GOPR0287Nice to be able to see the hire car, parked below the terraces on the track far below. Click picture to enlarge.

Despite the agricultural tidying up needed to make upward progress, this turned out to be a great new route. The 2nd pitch was outstanding and well worth a star on its own.

Looking towards Amzkhssan Wall from the top of the 4th pitch of  "Well 'Ard" in the Ida Ougnidif area.

Looking towards Amzkhssan Wall from the top of the 4th pitch of “Well ‘Ard” in the Ida Ougnidif area.

The hanging belay between the 3rd and 4th pitches will be more comfy when the rest of the spiky bush has gone. An alternative to the “Well ‘Ard” route name could easily have been “Prickle m’Tackle”.

Looking down the abseil from the top of the 4th pitch. Twid's orange helmet is just visible left of the ropes, where they (almost) jammed in that ominous, dark chimney. The hazy grey colour by the dark green tree is cement, left behind after the construction of the very deep well next to the tree. This gives the crag its guide book name of "Deep Well Pinnacles". Looking down the abseil from the top of the 4th pitch. Twid’s orange helmet is just visible left of the ropes, where they (almost) jammed in that ominous, dark chimney. The hazy grey colour by the dark green tree on the right is cement, left behind after the construction of the very deep well next to the tree. This gives the adjacent crag its guide book name of “Deep Well Pinnacles”. Click picture to enlarge.

Twid has written it up (HVS?) in the new routes book at Kasbah Tizourgane for inclusion in the next  supplement of the excellent “Morocco Rock” guide book to Jebel el Kest & Taskra North. This rigorously prepared and beautifully photographed book is published by Crack Addicts Emma Alsford and Paul Donnithorne.