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The first ascent of Azazar

Words: Ines Papert, Johanna Stöckl

In April 2013 Ines Papert, Lisi Steurer and Patrik Aufdenblatten made the first ascent of Azazar (400m, 8a) up the Tadrarate rock face in the Taghia, Morocco. Inspired by spectacular photos of the late Kurt Albert and Toni Arbones on their 2007 route Antro.po.cene, at the start of April a strong international team comprised of Germany’s Ines Papert, Austria’s Lisi Steurer and Switzerland’s Patrik Aufdenblatten travelled to Morocco’s Taghia valley in the Central Atlas Mountains with their sights set on a striking line up the SW Face of Tadrarate.

This massive rock face lies towards the end of the famous gorge, circa 2 hours from the village of Taghia and is reached via the stunning trail originally built by the local Berber herdsmen to lead their sheep through the valley. Much to their surprise, on the first day the three made a chance encounter with the man who had inspired them on their travels, Spaniard Toni Arbones… at times the world really is a small place!

Aufdenblatten, Papert and Steurer set to work immediately and, climbing ground-up over a 10-day period, they established a new route up the sheer face circa 100m the right of Antro.po.cene. They used a cave at the foot of the mountain as a temporary home and they also climbed capsule style on the upper section of the wall to breach difficulties up to 8a.

All the hard pitches were forged by Aufdenblatten and although protected by bolts, the route is certainly no straightforward sports climb. In fact, Papert described the nine pitch line as “a somewhat alpine outing because of the long runouts on all pitches” adding “the climbing is very varied and steep overhangs are quickly followed by extremely rough slabs.”

Although all individual pitches were climbed free, unfortunately the team ran out of time for a single-push redpoint attempt. Papert commented “We encountered white-out conditions early on which cost us time and I can imagine returning to Taghia in the near future to attempt to redpoint the route in a day. But our route is certainly no walkover: the difficulties never diminish and the climbing is demanding, both physically and psychologically, throughout. Topping out in brilliant sunshine with Lisi was a really special moment and the entire area is a true paradise for climbers and trekkers, the gorge is quite simply… breathtaking”.

The 400m route is called Azazar and named after the beautiful plant that grows in the Central Atlas Mountains.

Please visit Ines web page for more: ines-papert.de