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Aymeric Clouet on pitch 4 (8a) of Walou Bass in Taghia, Morocco
Photo by Bertrand Delapierre
Aymeric Clouet equipping the first part of pitch 3 of Walou Bass in Taghia
Photo by Bertrand Delapierre
The team at Saïd Gite in Taghia
Photo by Bertrand Delapierre

Walou Bass in Taghia, new Morocco climb by Petit, Clouet and Oddo

01.05.2011 by Planetmountain

In April 2011 a small French team comprised of Arnaud Petit, Aymeric Clouet and young Enzo Oddo travelled to the Taghia Gorge in Morocco where they created Walou Bass, a 150m climb with difficulties up to 8c.

The trio climbed the first pitch established in 2010 by Jerome Para and Damien Tomasi, then forged upwards to establish a further three exciting and demanding pitches. The Frenchmen climbed ground-up and while the route has 7b+ obligatory climbing, the crux 8c pitch with its tough Fb8a boulder section, still awaits a free ascent, as does the final pitch. Walou Bass translates from Berbère into "there is no problem" and Petit has shared his thoughts about his latest climb.

Arnaud, tell us about the team
We were an atypical team...Along with Amyeric, who has a huge background in all types of climbing, we revealed to Enzo all the tricks that make the multi-pitches more comfortable, he he showed us that 8b on a multi-pitch is easy...It was Enzo's first experience of this type of climbing, but we had great fun and were quite efficient. Enzo had only ever climbed one multi-pitch previously but he learnt very quickly and after hesitating only briefly on his first hooks he demonstrated great ability and established some nice obligatory sections, which is always hard when the rock is new and you don't know what you will find higher...

Tell us how you established 8c from the ground up...
We swung leads to keep the leader fresh after he had put in 4 to 6 bolts and when each of us has got close to his limit 2 or 3 times. This enabled us to climb fairly committed and we were lucky, only Enzo took falls on an 8a obligatory section. Later we cleaned this section a found a small variation, which means it's less difficult now. This is the hard bit about equipping routes from the ground upwards, especially when the rock isn't perfect which is the case in the overhangs of Taghia: you struggle a lot and in the end it's only obligatory 7b... On the whole I'd say that the route is a little run out but definitely not expo.

You keep returning to Taghia
Yes, I like the village a lot, its people. It's a place where you can easily share things with these mountain people and Stéphanie even speaks a little Berbère. Over the years I have established some nice routes with some great friends: in 2003 together with Michel Piola and Benoit Robert we established the sustained Rivières Pourpres (7b+, 500m) while a year later we returned with the same team to established L’Axe du Mal (7c+, 500m) as well as Le Grand Carnaval (400m, 8a+) with Piola, Fred Roulx, Benoit Kempf and Fred Gentet. Last year I returned with Sylvain Millet and we established Babybel (220m, 7c+). These are all great souvenirs.

Then there is Babel...
Yes, in 2007 with Fred Gentet, Nicolas Kalisz and Stéphanie Bodet we made the first ascent of this 800m 7c+. It is certainly one of the most serious climbs I have been on, very demanding on a mental level, 7a expo. Taghia is also the place where I climbed one of the nicest route I know, "Sur le Fil de la Notte" (500m, 7c+) established by Rolando Larcher, Michele Paissan and Maurizio Oviglia. I've climbed it twice so far, but not yet free...

You've been establishing hard routes from many many years. How has your technique evolved?
When I first started equipping new routes from the ground-up I climbed with a heavy drill clipped to my harness, that was more than 20 years ago... This meant that I could only run it out on 6c pitches, it was hard to establish more than 7a oblig. Now I climb very light, with 2 hooks, a few cams and a light drill clipped to a fifi. And of course I've gained more experience which always helps...

Many of your routes were established ground-up, but sometimes you choose to equip by abseil first.
I have equiped 2 routes like this, once in Corsica a long time ago - Octogénèse 8b in in 1991 - and recently Babybel in Taghia because I wanted to relive this experience to compare feelings and results. Even if I usually establish routes ground-up, when it comes to short multi-pitches I don't have a set idea about what is best, and of course about what other people should do except for one important rule: do not modify or chip the rock. Of course I'd never dream about equipping a big wall from the top. Ground-up or from the top are two very different things.

What do you mean precisely?
Ground-up is a link to the tradition of alpinism, it is about accepting the unknown, that you might climb hard and that perhaps the route won't go free and this can be frustrating but this insecure result is definitely an integral part of mountaineering. When you equip a route from above you do this for the sporting challenge, you check the route, and you have to be fair and make sure the bolts are not too run-out. You offer the next climbers a nice route but this, due to its very nature, has less character. And if you think about it, we all climb because what we search for is more than just the physical sporting challenge...


The team wishes to thank their sponsors Petzl, Ville de Grenoble, Sterling Ropes, Totem Cams, Lafuma, Beal, La Sportiva, Five Ten and Prana.

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