I already miss this picturesque area. Taghia (Morocco), is a terrific place. Imagine a small village of 400 inhabitants at 1900m altitude surrounded by impressive but attractive faces. Taghia is like a sacred place where respect and humility are important.
In Taghia, we four Frenchies were alone with the giants rock faces and teh locals. There were no other strangers. As far as I can remember, it was the first time I went to a climbing place and saw no other climbers. Incredibly relaxing but not surprising. The good season for climbing there is April-May and September-November. Nobody would think to climb here in January. Nevertheless it's what we did; Stephanie Bodet, Arnaud Petit,Thibault Saubusse and myself, in search of quietude, authenticity and a close relationship with the locals.
And beautiful climbs obviously...
Stunning view from the waterfall face
Fullness of time for Steph and I, facing Timrazzine.
Top of the waterfall face
Taghia the enchanting... So many rocks and routes to climb around there !
The very modest village of Taghia. True life with true inhabitants. No electricity, no phone, no roads.
Arnaud and Steph have been to Taghia a bunch of times already. They
have bolted some of the hardest and nicest routes there. And they
know the place and the inhabitants very well. Going to Taghia in January was a good way for them to experience again the Taghia they knew.
In the years 1994-2000, Steph, Arnaud and I were competitors, members of the french team. We used to live not too far from each other and we trained sometimes together. After the intense competitive years we enjoyed climbing together and did a few trips here and there. We always maintained a nice relationship but it had been a while since we had an adventure together. Because of that I was very excited to share this time with them.
Imst 1997 - World cup : Steph and I on the podium ;)
The two of us... more than 13 years later !
The climbing at Taghia is a little serious - not necessarily the climbing by
itself as a lot of routes are quite well protected - but mostly because of
the "long" and sometimes exposed hikes in the canyons before and after
the climbing. You always need to keep a small margin. Also, at Taghia
there is no cell phone reception and you are a bit far from
We were lucky regarding the weather and temperatures. This year, the month of January was a bit warmer than the Berbers are used to. Just warm enought to be able to climb in the sun on the South Faces. As soon as the sun disappeared, the game changed. And it would have been quite hard to climb in the shade, especialy a harder route with small holds.
For Steph and myself, our original plan was to repeat "Babybel", a beautiful route bolted by Arnaud Petit and Sylvain Millet. The route is south exposed and use a beautiful line on a slighlty steep wall and compact limestone .
As a warm up, we started our trip with some easy and beautiful routes such as "Haben oder Sein" at the waterfall face or "Au nom de la reforme" on Taoujdad.
One of the beautiful pitches of "Haben oder Sein" - on the waterfall face
Steph, playing the gazelle on the same route but one pitch above.
Unreal rock, amazing pitches and wild atmosphere. This is Taghia....
"Au nom de la reforme" on Taoujdad
But something went wrong. One after the other we all got very sick. Not a stomach sickness, but a very bad cold. The type of cold that just take all your energy out. And then, all you
can do is stay the whole day in your sleeping bag with a bottle of hot water in it and your hat on your head. And it was not only us. Half of the village was sick, coughing and feeling weak. Feeling weak... it's exactly how I felt. Weak legs, heavy head, loosing my balance, etc.
At home, in our comfortable and warm houses I'm sure we would have recovered after a few days. But at Taghia the conditions were a bit too harsh to recover. Little by little we all feel like we
were loosing our strengh and getting weaker. It was disappointing when
there were so many rocks and routes around !
The two girls and Thibault looking for the warmth of the kitchen
Because we were kind of useless, we decided to head back to the to civilization and find some warmer temperatures two days earlier than planned. However, on the last day, I had a little energy back and Arnaud was psyched to give me a "bolting from the ground lesson". We hiked up to the cascade with our heavy bags full of bolting equipment. Thanks to Arnaud for his patience and great advices. I placed a few bolts there before becoming totally exhausted. Wow... drilling holes with the perforator was not the easiest thing I have ever done. But all in all I enjoyed it, hanging on the hooks, thinking of where was the best line and the best place for my next bolt. It was a really good way to end this Taghia trip.
Learning how to bolt from the ground. Thanks to Arnaud for his advices and patience ;)
I'm back since a few weeks already and did some other things since then. But just by closing my eyes I can still feel the special atmosphere of Taghia. I can see again Rachida's hands, going from the right to the left on the weaving loom with precise movements. I admire these people, living with almost nothing, always happy, generous, helpful. I'll always remember that morning when Aicha was carried down by six men to the next village after trying to give the birth during the whole night. A solid three hours walking in the canyon before reaching a dirt road and another three hours driving before the first hospital. They are tough folks... I remember the Shepherds, literally running on the exposed hikes with their plastics shoes... And so on.
The kids always want to communicate with you and play with you
The Oulfakir in their living room. Shepherds and guides from father to son
Steph and Arnaud always happy and easy going
Despite the sickness, we all had a wonderful time there. The inhabitants were incredible generous, helpfull and with a huge sense of hositality. They don't have so much, but they are always very nice. They always want you to visit their house. They always invite you for some tea and biscuits. And they always try to communicate and laugh with you.
We did some very nice climbs and I discovered an outstanding climbing place. The Taghia experience was unique.
And above all, our relationship with Steph was reinforced. The Steph and Liv party worked out pretty well and I'm sure we will do other projects together in the future. Stay tune !
Photos credit : Arnaud Petit
How to get there :
Taghia is in Morocco at 200km East of Marrakech.
From Marrakech reach Zaouia either by bus or by renting a four wheel drive.
From Zaouia you need to rent a slipper to carry your gear. You'll reach Taghia after a two hours and thirty minutes walk in the canyon. The hike is beautiful. It's almost a shock when you get close to Taghia. The scenery is way more marvelous than what one could have expected.
Where to stay at Taghia:
At Taghia the best is to stay at Said Messaoudi's gite.
Christian Ravier, one of the very active climber in the area wrote a beautiful and essential guide book (in french). You'll find everything you need in it.
Steph's blog : the same adventure narrated from her own experience. Very well written with others pictures (in french)