Aufdenblatten, Papert and Steurer create long hard route in Morocco

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 12/05/2013
From the bivouac cave, the lines of Antro.po.cene (left) and Azazar on the southwest face of Jebel Tadrarate. Lisi Steurer
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In a short visit during April to Morocco's Taghia Gorge, Patrik Aufdenblatten (Switzerland), Ines Papert (Germany) and Lisi Steurer (Austria) put up one of the most difficult, long routes in the region, Azazar (400m, 8a).

The team was inspired to visit this mountainous red limestone section of the High Atlas, after seeing spectacular photos from the first ascent of Antro.po.cene, put up in 2007 by Tony Arbones and the late Kurt Albert.

This long route on the southwest face of Jebel Tadrarate (2,803m) was finally redpointed at 8a in September 2011 by Arbones, and then redpointed in a day, later the same month, by Michi Wohlleben.

Azazar, named after the wild plant that grows in the Atlas, lies ca 100m right of Antro.po.cene and was climbed over a 10-day period.

The southwest face of Tadrarate lies more than two hours from the village of Taghia, so the team operated first from a large cave bivouac close to the foot of the face, and later from a portaledge on the wall, climbing the upper section in capsule style.
 
In common with most established lines on the well featured but compact limestone of Taghia, the route is protected by bolts. However, with a total of 80 on nine pitches, including belays, there is a lot of demanding runout climbing.

While Papert and Dolomite guide Steurer are a well established female team, it was Aufdenblatten who forced the hard pitches. This young talent from Zermatt climbed El Capitan's Freerider when just 19, and also made a very rapid ascent  - a little over seven hours - of the Bonatti Direct on the North Face of the Matterhorn.

Given their limited time, and the fact that early in the season they had to contend with snow storms, the three adopted a pragmatic approach to completing the route: there would always be two on the wall, while the third would ferry food etc up from the village.

After topping out, the team had only three days left, and a decision was taken to support the strongest climber, Aufdenblatten, in an attempt at a redpoint ascent. This he achieved over two days; a one-day redpoint awaits.

Individual pitch grades are 8a, 7c, 7b, 8a, 7b, 7b, 6c, 6b+, 6b, with the route having obligatory difficulties of 7b+.

Several lines exist on this face of Tadrarate, including Raum der Wunsche (7c), a 14-pitch route put up in 2009 by German Rudiger Helling and a party of friends that included Sheffield-based Sarah and Tony Whitehouse.

Thanks to Lisi Steurer for help with this report



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