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[TR] Morocco, South Africa - multiple 12/30/2017

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Trip: Morocco, South Africa - multiple

Trip Date: 12/30/2017

Trip Report:


Africa Sampler


Got a chance to do two Africa climbing trips this past year:  two weeks in Morocco in May and two weeks in South Africa over Christmas.  Polar opposites and not just in their location on the continent; the climbing in the two places could not have been any more different:  bolted cracks vs. trad protected faces; well-traveled limestone vs. overgrown sandstone; easy approaches vs. steep bushwhacks; lots of climbers vs. none; sweet tea vs. booze.

In Morocco, we checked out Taghia (pretty place but the really stunning lines were too hard for us) and Todra (less dramatic but with more moderates); in South Africa, we stuck to the Western Cape Province.  We knew that Morocco had big walls with long climbs but were surprised to find 500 meter tall faces in the Western Cape.  Morocco was easily self-organized.  South Africa would’ve been as well until I stumbled onto a website describing some long traditional climbs in places I’ve never heard of.  Ended up hiring the admin of that site and longtime local climber, Ross, to be our “fixer” – take us to those obscure gems but let us climb them on our own.

Both places represent the easier shade of Africa travel – no coup d'etats, no jihadists.  Though a community Facebook page called “Snakes Of South Africa” – where the good folks share their serpent run-ins  – had us paranoid to the point of buying “snake gaiters”.  People do get bitten and some die every summer in SA, particularly in rural areas. No mambas in Western Cape but almost everything else on the list.

More spray and more photos on our site.  


South Africa

Some Pics:

Arriving in Marrakesh:

Roadside eatery.  Key beta:  bring Tabasco sauce (family sized bottle is best).

From Marrakesh, you drive 3ish hours into the Atlas Mountains where the road ends in the village of Zaouia Ahansal.  From here, you hike 2 hours into the village of Taghia while a donkey carries your gear.

First views of the climbing.

Hiking through Taghia village to the climbing.

Next day we climbed what is probably the easiest route there (6 pitch, 6a+) called La Reve d’Aicha.

Looking up at Paroi des Sources (left) and Taoujdad.

Did the first 4 (of 8) pitches of this l’Allumeur Du Reve Berbere route.  Bailed off as it was baking in the sun and already plenty hard for us.

Berber bridges.

Some light canyoneering on a rest day.

Views of Taoujdad.

An 8 pitch line called El Geonauta on Taoujdad.

Which features some spelunking.

Arriving on the summit of Taoujdad

Weren’t super thrilled with climbing in Taghia (hard) and so we decided to relocate to Todra Gorge.  Apparently the scenic way to do this is to hike across the Atlas Mountains (35+km or about 12ish hours) which then puts you within a 2hr taxi ride of Todra.  This unlucky donkey got to carry our junk on this little hike.

A Berber family doing their own high mountain crossing.

I woke up feeling sick the morning of the hike and so was dragging ass behind the donkey, his owner, and Shirley…have not suffered like that in a while.

Village of Oussikis on the far side of the hike…Alhamdulillah!!

Storks nesting atop a minaret of a mosque was a common sight.

Town of Boumalne on the drive to Todra.

We stayed in a guest house outside the gorge in Todra.  The owner’s son is a climber and actively putting up new routes.  But we were the only guests.

An aqueduct at the mouth of Todra Gorge.

Starting up a route called Tiwira, 6 pitch 6a+.

Some views.

Hiking off.

Checking out the local Kasbah.

Voie Abert climbs this pillar inside the gorge in about 8 or 10 pitches (6a+).

High on the route.

A large and old Kasbah Ait Benhaddou near the city of Ouarzazate.

More Kasbah sights.

At a roadside café.

Maybe I cannot onsight Taghia’s 6b+, but I can sure put away watermelon like a mother…

Souk in Marrakesh.

Cat selling gold in the souk.

Animal abuse at the Jamaa el Fna square in Marrakesh.

Welcoming alcohol back in our lives during an overnight layover in Amsterdam.


And Amsterdam (man, those black shoes totally clash with the outfit).

Shirley looking for a toilet during a long layover in London on the way to Cape Town.

Arriving in Cape Town with Table Mountain in background:

Final portion of a 3h approach to a route called Mooloo Face the following day – prow of the buttress visible at the head of the gully.  20+ pitches per description but easily linked into <10.

Stretching our 70 meter cords and linking the first handful of pitches.  I’m near the top & Shirley is belaying below.  Photo by our “fixer” Ross.

Arriving on top.

Jonkershoek Twins (home of Mooloo Face).

Freshly shed Cape cobra skin seen on approach.

Hiking into Duiwelskloof with 500 meter walls towering above.  We’d spend two nights there and climb a long (18 pitch) route called Lucifer the following day.

Low on Lucifer the following morning.

Shirley on Lucifer with Devil’s Tooth in the background.

Crux of Lucifer.  Note the 2 micro cam belay anchor.  Very trad:  ~500 meters of climbing and only fixed shit we saw were 2 ancient pins (2 more than on Mooloo).
Money traverse pitch high on Lucifer.

Shirley on the upper third.

Hike off from the top was loooong but scenic.  Kind of like Resolution Arete but with more time spent on top of the wall traversing rolling summits to access the descent gully.

Ready for a beer.

Snakes were never far from our minds.

Did a bit of sightseeing during a 2 day break over Christmas.  African penguin at Boulders Beach.

Table Mountain from Cape Town.

Some cragging at a place called Paarl Rocks – a collection of large granite domes sitting on top of a large hill.  This is an area classic called Sands Of Time (4 pitches and about 5.9).

Shirley and I on pitch 3.  Photo by Ross.

Did 2 routes in this here Yellowwood Amphitheater of Du Toits Kloof Mountains.

Crux of a route called Lekker Time.  Photo from the base by Ross.

One more from Lekker Time (Afrikaans for Good Time). 

Four evening’s worth of sending.

For the final climb, we hiked up to one of the Apostles (buttresses) of Table Mountain to climb Slangooli Frontal route.  Morning approach.

Ho-hum climbing mostly but with great views.

A bit of vertical bushwhacking.

The scenic hike down.

Cape Town sights.

Gear Notes:
Bring Tabasco esp. for Morocco. No trad in Morocco (where we went); Mostly trad in Western Cape.

Approach Notes:
A mixed bag.

Edited by fgw
typos fix
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I was waiting the the annual installment!!  As we have come to expect, Adventure travel/climbing, with a capital A.  Such great images too.  Thanks for keeping us desk jockeys entertained this week!

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Another great TR, I love reading these!  How the heck do you event find the route at places like Duiwelskloof?  The lines don't look obvious at all for my NW sense of trad climbing!

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thanks gents.  About the Duiwelskloof, never got a photo of the wall Lucifer is on but it's deeper in the canyons than what's shown in approach pics.  Most of the multi-pitch trad lines apparently get climbed once/decade nowadays - Rocklands bouldering & sport climbing absorb almost all Cape Town climbers.   Only found out about it by stumbling onto Ross's website.  Turns out those things (multipitch trad FAs) are published in a S.A. Mountain Club journal - hard copies only. 3-4 hrs in the heat felt like hard approaches but really not that much compared to a good schwack in the cascades.

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Reading your TR's has always been like taking a mini-vacation. Super impressive and very inspiring. Thanks for taking the time to put together the TR's and share them here.


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Also, as sort of a logistical aside - do you guys buy insurance for medical emergencies and/or medical evacuation back to the us for your trips? If so, who do you go with? 

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JayB - nothing really special insurance-wise.  Have the AAC membership that I think comes with some benefits & keep the mazamas membership which also apparently has something...maybe it's time for me to look at that fine print.

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Gotcha. The main reason I asked is that you seem to have the exotic-travel game pretty well wired and may have some more recent intel to share. Sounds like your bases are pretty well covered, but I'll share what I can recall on the off chance that it's of any help to anyone that happens to read this thread down the line.

The last time I looked into getting covered for "extreme" activities overseas was about ten years ago when we were carrying individual, catastrophic insurance. After reading through the policies and talking to the insurance company I determined that the coverage wasn't adequate, and I opted to get a $50,000 medical policy through "International Medical Group" with coverage that included injuries sustained during "extreme" activities and medical-evacuation coverage through Medjet.

Thankfully I never had to put either policy to use, but I was hoping that if I got seriously messed up in a car-wreck or the vastly-less-likely recreational injury it'd be enough coverage to get me stabilized and flown back home on a gurney, where my regular coverage would kick in. The rates were surprisingly reasonable. I think that the total premium for the medical coverage was something like $350-400 for seven months overseas. Can't remember what the tab was for the Medjet but it wasn't a significant expense relative to the rest of the travel expenses either. 

I'm probably a bit more paranoid since my wife has worked in ER's for a long time and every now and then sees the unlucky folks who get seriously jacked up and are in no condition to fly commercial for days/weeks even after they're stabilized. 


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Not up to your level, but spent about a week climbing in Morocco in November of 2016 in the Afantinzar Valley and around the Kasbah Tizourgane. No crowds, did not see any other climbers. And it was pretty cool to hear the call to prayer echoing off the valley walls! Mostly trad single pitch, with some longer routes around. I found the guide book "Morocco Rock" to be accurate and very helpful.

Visited Spitzkoppe while in Namibia last year. Hard climbing on sparsely protected slabs for the most part. Some steep bolted stuff as well. Bring two 70M ropes.P1160094.thumb.JPG.a289fd90a5a286a528956cc05fd89d81.JPG

Typical rock in the Afantinzar Valley.


Afantinzar Valley listening to the call to prayer


Near Tizourgane



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C'mon @Trent, the new site makes it easy to do up your own separate TR on your Africa adventures!  We want to hear all about it!

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“Visited Spitzkoppe while in Namibia last year. Hard climbing on sparsely protected slabs for the most part.”
Yeah, we did more backing off/bailing than climbing in that place – runouts and exfoliating granite (& most routes were too hard).  Regret not trying the standard route to the summit – supposedly a pretty good adventure.  

That place in Morocco looks cool.  There’s another new (?) area being developed up north apparently (bolted, multi-pitch); either Assemouk or Rif on this page:


If you enjoyed climbing above quiet, traditional villages (w. calls to prayer), try to check out Wadi Rum in Jordan if you haven't already.  Long trad routes.

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