Tag Archives: sandstone

Todra Gorge: The quest for the best climbing guidebook

Over the New Year’s holidays, myself, my climbing partner Valentina and our friend Gianni went to Morocco for a week to climb at Todra Gorge (and eat loads of cous cous!). You can read about our New Year’s Eve celebrations in my first blog about this, but the climbing itself, or rather our attempts to figure out the details, was a whole separate challenge!

We came to Todra Gorge with just a pocket-sized climbing guidebook that we found online, but according to reports we read online a man called Hassan sells hand-drawn topos for climbers on the spot for 250 Moroccan dirham (around £18). Our book was missing key pieces of information, such as the length of the routes, so we were open to the idea of getting another copy. We didn’t realise the search for a good quality guidebook would become such a mission and would teach us so much about the Moroccan ways…

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Climbing, cous cous and cold beds: a very Berber New Year

Have you ever massaged your food during the cooking process? Well, it was certainly the first time I ever witness such a thing, but apparently that’s the traditional Berber way to cook cous cous! Something Valentina and I found out at 10pm on New Year’s Eve, in a Berber kitchen in the middle of the Moroccan mountains, hungry and tired after a day of climbing and wondering what on earth was going on…

I don’t remember whose idea it was to go to Morocco for an end-of-year climbing holiday, but I loved it straight away, having been to the country a couple of times before and loved it both times. I originally suggested going somewhere like Costa Blanca, which apparently is a great place to climb in the winter, but the price of the tickets and the difficulty getting there, considering we were all going to fly from different places, had put us off. Morocco seemed to work for everyone, and more importantly, it is warm this time of year, and cheap all year round!

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Why trad climbing makes you a geek

“This is just a Diff, it should be really easy!” – I was furiously thinking to myself, as I scrambled around for somewhere, anywhere, to put in a piece of protection for my climb up. But apart from the wide cracks, into which I couldn’t even jam my (admittedly tiny) hands, there was nowhere that I could see with the naked eye to place my metal pieces of gear…was I supposed to solo this thing??

It amazed me how different I felt trad leading in Stanage, Derbyshire, compared to my first ever trad lead in the Wye Valley. There, I led a VDiff and moved quickly onto a Severe without any problems.

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Lessons in being patient

“I really shouldn’t be doing this!” I thought, while hanging upside down in a tunnel and trying to push my foot into the next black foothold for balance, as a searing pain shot up my right side, again.

Sometimes, injuries happen by accident or as an unfortunate consequence of doing something inherently correct and safe, but more often than not they are exacerbated by impatience.

Impatience that stops us from warming up before jumping on a difficult or technical climb; impatience that drives us to the pub half an hour early after a day of climbing outdoors, instead of stretching; impatience that brought me to the climbing gym on a Tuesday night after a weekend of climbing, when I already knew I had an injury.

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