Climbing High in the Todra Gorge

What happens in the brain of a rock climber when they see rock? Not just your normal rock. Good rock. High rock. Rock the beckons and even begs to be climbed. I have spent quite a bit of time in the Todra Gorge now, guiding, climbing, relaxing, and I can tell you that the drive in still makes the hairs on my neck stand up. I can feel my forearms beginning to pulsate, a hint of climbing chalk seems to come from no where, my heart starts to beat a little faster. I am certain this is a normal occurrence for each and every climber driving into a canyon, gorge, or even their local crag. They sit forward in the seat of their car, turn the music down as if to pay homage to the rock they are gazing upon. They roll the window down in order to get a clearer look, maybe even a clearer smell. They start envisioning themselves stepping off the ground, working the crux on the climb they have never even touched, belaying high above the deck on pitch 4 or 5. If you have never climbed before, you may think your climber friend is a little crazy, a bit cooky. Is this some strange form of addiction? Is there something in the rock that you must know about? Are they keeping secrets from you? Will they see that car stopped in front of them in time? Well, that’s me every time I drive into the Todra Gorge. The rock towers above me, 300+ meters over my head like giants, frozen in time, casting even larger shadows across my path. I can never bend my neck back far enough or open my eyes wide enough to really take in all the rock! There is one particular route that I had been eyeing for a couple of months during each trip with our clients. There is a four pitch climb located within the Gorge proper called Smouf Ond Web. It slouches next to the bigger and more impressive Pilier du Cochet, but still provides an enjoyable challenge with the same beautiful view of the spring below. The climb offers four fun pitches, 5+, 6a+, 6a, and 4+. The second pitch, which represents the crux pitch, has one interesting reach over a small roof, but the rock is sticky, sometimes sharp, throughout the entire climb, offering lots of friction and endless options for good holds. Jeremy and I racked up and walked across the small spring about 7am. Like most days climbing in Morocco, we had the rock , nay, the Gorge all to ourselves! The morning was quiet and cool as we trusted our feet not to slip off the small traverse we did above the water in order to reach the first belay ledge. The climbing was fantastic and I was constantly reminded that I have the best job in the world! I felt so energized climbing early that morning. How blessed am I to be able to enjoy such a fun sport and passion in such an exotic country as Morocco? Jeremy started the climbing and we swapped leads all the way to the top where we took a minute to take in the view and snap some photos. We were thrilled to have finally climbed the first of many multi-pitch climbs in the Todra Gorge as we scrambled down into a small gully, found our first rappel anchor station and started flaking out our ropes for the long descent. Two rappels later, we were walking across the spring back to the car to make the 6 hour drive back to Marrakech. The three hours of tranquility, working fun climbing moves, building anchors, taking in the view, and being reminded how much I love climbing, really helped prepare me to head back into the business of city life in Marrakech. The experience also raised my stoke for multi-pitch climbing in the Gorge and I look forward to posting new blogs and photos of new climbs in the near future. I know for sure, the next time I am driving into the Todra Gorge, my climbing sixth sense will kick in as strong as ever as the rock pulls the climbing magnet within to it’s heights!

Jeremy at the top

Jay at the top

Jay in front of the climb.

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