Sheffield-based couple, Sarah and Tony Whitehouse, recently assisted a group of seven German friends in making the first ascent of the superb 600m Raum der Wünsche (7c) in the increasingly popular limestone gorges of Taghia, Morocco.
The 14-pitch route follows the compact big wall between La Rouge Berbère (Guillaume/Ravier/Thivel, 2002: 14pitches: 7b but not sustained) and L'Axe du Mal (Bodet/Cortial/Petit/Piola/Robert: 500m - 13 pitches: 7c+, 6c+ obl) on 2,803m Jebel Tadrarate. It was equipped over a period of days and ropes were fixed on much of the route.
Despite being fully bolt-protected, Raum der Wünsche still features several runout sections of sustained face climbing.
A decidedly motivated Rüdiger Helling made the eventual redpoint in a single push, and all other team members repeated many quality routes in the area.
Slovenians Andrej Grmovsek and Luka Krajne made the first ascent of one of the most prominent lines on the North Face of 2,977m Tagoujimt N'Tsoiant, when they climbed the corner system and capping roof that forms the left side of the 'alcove' between Fantasia and La Bas.
The route features a crux 20m roof at 7b and, rather notably for Taghia, was climbed on sight with only trad gear.
Cosmic Roof (aka Separate African Reality) gives 350m (10 Pitches) of sustained climbing, followed by 400m of much easier terrain to the top of the wall. The pair completed the line in 13 hours.
Cosmic Roof follows a crack system and, commendably, allowed the Slovenians to break with tradition by using traditionally placed protection throughout. There are several bolts on the route, but these originate from previous unsuccessful attempts.
Fantasia (700m: 7b+/7c), put up in 2005 by Polish climbers David Kaszlikowski and Eliza Kubarska, was one of the first, entirely free routes on this 800m face, and the pair climbed in the style normally used for big wall first ascents in Taghia; ground up, fixing ropes and drilling on lead. The route takes the compact wall left of the rectangular 'alcove' and the pair made the eventual redpoint ascent around one month after first starting to work on the line.
La Bas (5.12b/7b) was put up in similar style the following year by a North Face team of Conrad Anker, Kris Erickson, Renan Ozturk, Kevin Thaw and Heidi Wurtz.
Grmovsek (with Krajne) also made redpoint ascents of Fantasia and L'Axe du Mal, considering both to be 7c. The latter is widely thought to be one of the finest hard routes at Taghia (and had a British repeat a few years ago by Steve Meyers and Twid Turner). The two Slovenians both made on-sight/flash ascents of the classic 16-pitch Les Rivieres Pourpres (7b+) on the North Face of Taoujdad.
The Whitehouses note that facilities in the village continue to develop, as interest in this area of huge limestone walls grows. Currently, activity has concentrated on formations relatively close to the village, but they suggest massive potential exists for new routes on walls up to nearly 1,000m high for those adventurous enough to devote time to exploring further afield.
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