OK, so Taghia has to be one of the best places I’ve been for mulitpitch sport climbing, if not climbing in general. And I will definitely go back.
Firstly, Taghia is beautiful! It’s like paradise, even if you’re not into climbing. You walk 3 hours to the village with some donkeys to carry your stuff as there are no roads that go to the village. As you turn the last bend of the valley you are greeted by big orange and yellow limestone towers that loom over a little village with a pretty little stream running through it. There are bright little patches of green where ever the stream reaches the ground and little water falls that sprout out of the walls. Every time we walked into a route, I was so happy to see that even the mud is pretty, it’s a funny shade of purple and sparkles in the sun.
The accommodation scene, is that basically, you choose one of three gites in the village and pay a fee per day that covers, a bed, dinner and breakfast. We stayed at Said’s place and found it to be really friendly, pretty clean and comfortable, shower scene.. not great but good enough. And just a warning – if you have something against the French, perhaps Taghia is not the best spot for you. Taghia seems to attract the French like bears to honey (they’re not stupid, the French).
We were in Taghia for 10 days and 9 of them all were filled with some kind of climbing or hiking. Taghia is a place where you will find it almost impossible to sit still, and this isn’t just because there is no internet, TV, pubs or shops. It’s because it feels like a playground, a Disney land for the climber and hiker. Everywhere you look there is an adventure hiding, waiting to be had; all you have to do is pick a direction to walk in. Apart from the very first day, when we got caught in an epic snow storm, we enjoyed stable albeit slightly cold weather.
The rock is really solid and clean. Mainly crimpy or pocketted, and anywhere from slabby to slightly overhanging. A lot of the harder routes that we did haven’t had much traffic and as a result are fun to onsight as there isn’t much chalk or boot rubber giving you clues. The routes are anything from one to 18 pitches, the best ones we did, around 16 pitches. There is trad climbing there, but we thought that the sport routes were on nicer rock, and are on the most part the harder routes. A lot of the time we would walk for an hour or so to get to the base, and although you can ab the routes, we chose to walk off them, taking an hour and a half or something. All the climbing and hiking really added up towards the end of the ten days and I felt pretty tired on the way home. But it felt nice to be tired, because I knew we had really made the most of our time there.
I really enjoyed the rock climbing, but there is something special about Taghia and the people that live there, that will bring me back, even when the memories of the cool routes we did have faded. Throughout the village the local people will always say hi, in either French or Arabic and if you meet a lone shepherd walking on the high plains, he will most likely invite you to have tea with him and chat to you in broken French.
These are the routes we did with a few words about them if anyone’s interested in doing them.
Les Rivieres Pourpres 7b+ – really cool, awesome rock, well bolted
Tout Pour Le Club 7c – really nice, brilliant 7c pitch lower down, really technical, no rubbish pitches but only 7 in total
L’Axe Du Mal 7c+ – really nice, a lot of easy pitches, and some not so nice ones higher up, the 7c+ crux isn’t so hard, with the hard climbing only being a few metres in length
Sul Filo Du Notte 7c+ – really amazing, a lot harder than L’Axe Du Mal. I onsighted the first 7c+ but the second one has quite a hard few moves, which I worked out after a fall but they were very low percentage, involving the smallest holds/thumb sprags known to man. The upper pitches aren’t very nice, with lots of crozzly rock.
Widmo 7c+/8a, really good – the 7c+8a pitch I got second go, and is really cool, not very cruxy, the next 7c+ isn’t that hard, but be warned if you aren’t rapping the ‘3’ pitch that is supposed to traverse you off to the summit, is longer than your rope length, has no bolts and is a little sketch if you’re not into soloing slightly chossy rock/gullys after a sport climb.
Zebda 7b+, really nice, a short approach, hard first pitch for 7b+ especially if you’re short.
I also did Belle et Berber with Lisse, 6b+, about 10 pitches, really nice
We also tried Fantasia, but we got really cold and came down at pitch 7, but it looks really good, will be psyched to try it on a return trip.