La Source Taghia, Atlas Mountains, Morocco.
Taghia the hidden jewel in the heart of the Atlas Mountains. This Sangri La location buried in the Berber lands East of Marakesh has become over the last 40 years one f the premier clmbing destinatins for the rock climber looking for quality multi pitch sports routes. Climbers have been regularily climbed in the area since the 1960′s but in recent years, due to th rapid develpment of hard quality multipitch spotts routes by many of the worlds top climbers, Taghia is a major destination for climbers. The excellent recent Guide book by Christian Ravier has added to its popularitybut thankfully not change the charm of the hiidden valley.
Taghia is only accessed via a long car, 4×4,donkeys and 2.5hr walk. There is no power, theres no mobile signal, theres no cars and theres generally no easy routes! But there is endless quality limestone, miles of walls 400-900m high, charming Berber Gites, exciting ancient Berber paths and some of the best multi pitch sports routes in the World. I orginally was told of the place by Michel Gallegos, the Spanish big wall climber famed for startng ‘Boreal’. The hand drawn map on the back of a cigerette packet sat on my mantle piece for many years. It wasnt until an inspiring article by Michel Piola that rekindled my interest. I quickly organised a crew of British climbers to visit the area for a quick hit prior to my daughters birth(no pressure!) Myself and Steve Mayers climbed the first British ascent of Les Riveres Pourpre, Canyon Apache and the incredible Axe de Mal. All three possibly the best sports climbs we had ever climbed. I dont say this ightly. The spark was fired to return and make a frst ascent of my own with British friends.
It was now my fourth trip to Taghia and I was luckily accommpanied by two good friends Dave Gladwin and Mat Dickenson. Loaded down by extra ropes, a cordless drill, 3 heavy batteries and 120 bolts, 120 Mars bars, 12 dried sauges and lots of enthusiasm. Our mission to put up a new route on one of the walls of Taghia. It was a bit late in the year but the heavy snow didnt dampen our spirit! At times it felt like climbing in an Alaskian storm.Perhaps we were not quite as well equipped as we should of been.But its hard to know what it can be like. The temperatures and weather can vary greatly from baking heat to freezing cold and strong winds. Safest times are late April-May and Sept to early Nov.
After a couple of days of cragging and checking out various potential new lines (endless)we decided on a popular area relatively close to the village. The line was up the clean steep wall left of the Taghia classic ‘Zebda’. It took an amazing line direct up t the top of the wall. A large area of untouched rock. After days of cleanng and gearing the route we had all our bolts in place. This was too be, as in character with the area, a fully equipped sports route. A rack of 15 quickdraws is all you need. All pitches were freed in freezing temeratures and lttle feeling in fingers and toes. Perfect training for UK summer! Each pitch was of the highest quality and the rock immmaculate. Certainly one of the finest sports routes any of us had climbed. Its close proximaty to the village will certainly make it a popular climb.
What strikes you about Taghia is the raw beauty of the valley, the friendliness and openess of the loacl Berber people. Life is very basic and hard living in the high Atlas. The Taghia people welcome all with open arms and everybody leaves with fond memories and new friends. On our final evening we were invited to attend a traditional wedding. The party engulfed all the village folk and the atmosphere was incredible. We will return again inshallah.