|Taghia the place to be. After last years first ascent of Barracuda, the small Polish team comprised of Eliza Kubarska, Przemek Klimek and David Kaszlikowski returned to Morocco in May 2005 to make the first ascent of one of the longest free climbs in the Atlas mountain range, Fantasia 7b+/c, 700m on Tagouimmt NTsouiannt. David sent us the following report: |
Taghia Cirque, Morocco
Fantasia, 7b+/c, 700m, Tagouimmt NTsouiannt
"Upon entering the Valley of Taghia from the last canyon youre fascinated by two great walls. The first one is a 700 meter tall tooth Oujdad, the other one, Tagouimmt NTsouiannt measuring 800m is one of the largest walls in the Atlas mountain range.
On that wall, in May of 2005 together with Eliza Kubarska we opened a new route Fantasia, 700 meters long, maximum difficulties 7b+/c (IX-/IX UIAA), many pitches above VIII UIAA. Its one of the longest free climbs in the mountains of the High Atlas in Morocco.
Hidden deep in the mountains, far from the nearest city (about 85 km) Taghia has been a climbing Mecca for European explorers for the last few years. Massive limestone walls and deep canyons form a fabulous labyrinth of crags. This place that has been explored quietly since the 70s (mainly by Spaniards) and it works like a magnet, drawing in authors of new routes to conquer the great walls.
Our team as well, after last years climb on the Oujdad wall, dreamt about coming back to this wall, one of the most spectacular projects in Taghia. In 2004 a team of Szybi_ski, Kubarska, Kaszlikowski opened Barracuda. A new 7c+ max. 7a obligatory, 590 m. high route. Now was the time for Tagouimmt NTsouiannt. Up until now it contained mainly routes for aid climbing leaving the bravest lines untouched. The smoothest part of the wall, resembling French Verdon Gorge became our project.
Together with Eliza Kubarska we started work on the new route on April 21st. Halfway though the trip Przemek Klimek joined us and helped to open the top part of the route.
The line was lead from the bottom (a combination of free and aid ) with the assumption that in the end its going to be free climbed. Protection what is typical for Taghia means drilling whilst hanging on sky hooks, installed on tiny edges.
Most of the wall is slab without the possibility of any other protection than bolts, up until the 13th pitch. There on easy terrain weve installed only a single bolt at the stances. We didnt use a portaledge, only about 400m of fixed ropes. Each day we rapelled down to the village. For a month we lived in a very friendly gite owned by Said Mesaouidi.
The redpoint ascent of Fantasia was done on May 23 and 24( bivouac), 2005. It was carried out by Eliza Kubarska and David Kaszlikowski.
Due to exhaustion our climb took us two days. A couple of days before the ascent I was sick. My inner ear was inflamed and I had trouble walking and keeping my balance.
On the fourth day of the sickness I felt well enough to try the ascent. Not long into the climb I realized that Im still having trouble with my balance. The first few pitches were a fight to overcome the feeling of dizziness. At that time I was still uncertain if I would even be able to lead the more difficult ones. Fortunately after a couple of hours the sickness passed and the 6th pitch which was the first difficult one went smoothly.
Although we had very comfortable bivouac (a 1.2 meter wide ledge) we also had a noticeable problem dehydration. We were already out of water by morning. Dry wind and the effort we put into the climb tired us out completely. By evening we were seriously exhausted, tasting thick saliva and seeing black spots before our eyes.
Fantasia is one of the most diverse routes in Taghia. Climbing in chimneys and dihedrals mixed with slabs. Magnificent canyons of Taghia in the background just sweetens things up.
We spent a month and a half observing how the green fields change colour to gold and harvest starts. Weve noticed how the climbing movement is changing in Taghia. Last year during our monthly trip we met only about 15 climbers, this year there were about 60. More and more people come not only to create new routes but to climb old ones.
There are new sport and traditional routes, but still many wall remain untouched, like the distant Bou Iourlanene where theres only one route from 25 years ago.
Fantasia, Tagouimmt NTsouiannt, Morocco
F.A. Eliza Kubarska, Przemek Klimek and David Kaszlikowski May 2005
F.F.A. Eliza Kubarska, David Kaszlikowski 23-24/05/2005
Equipment: double rope (50 55 m, 15 quickdraws, 3 middle size friends, 3 middle size nuts)."