A BIG LION'S FACE...
Lion's Head is a great peak situated in the Anti-Atlas Range, in the South side of the Jebel El Kest Group, nearby the town of Tafraoute. The peak represents the symbol of these mountains and has a magnificent South Face - named Lion's Face for its surprising likeness with a big lion, especially late in the afternoon - well visible from Tafraoute. In the central part of this face there is a tremendous roof, looking like a big stairway upside down.
From Tafraoute reach the small village of Asgaour and then the East end of the village. A wild trip along a large vegetated gully, starting near the water pipeline, and some final easy slabs lead below the South-face.
Lion's Head routes overview
Four routes are traced on the face:
A - Lion's Face Ridge (SSW Ridge) 4C (British Scale) 400 mt. L.Brown- C.E. Davies- D.W.Walker- A.P. Tumbull 1998
B - Lion's Face (South Face) 5A (British Scale) 300 mt. P.Ross - L.Brown 1995
The route of the British pioneers, the first realized on the face
C - L'Occhio (The Eye) VI- (UIAA Scale) 330 mt. Alberto Rampini and Silvia Mazzani 30-10-2010
The fourth route is a Poland Route situated in the shorter right-hand side of the face (more informations on "Livre d'Or" in Hotel Les Amandiers - Tafraoute)
The Eye route report
L'OCCHIO (THE EYE) REPORT
A great trad route inside a wild milieu.
From Tafraoute reach the small village of Asgaour, then the last settlements at the East end of Asgaour. Park the car and follow the water pipe-line path. Before crossing the river, leave the main path and go up towards left along the main large vegetated gully, leading towards the face. Scramble up easily along the gully; when it seems turn towards left, climb some easy rocks on the right, then head towards left reaching an exposed ledge with one climbing move at the end and gain the upper vegetated large gully. Walk up along the gully, then scramble up along some easy slabs on the right, reaching a plat stance near some blocks, under a regular yellow dihedral-crack, closed by a small roof.
L1 - Climb the dihedral-crack, move to right, then climb straight up to a belay on a rocky ledge. VI-, 45 mt.
L2 - A very long pitch straight up along a red steep pillar; from the belay move to right, climbing a red wall. After a short traverse towards right, return to the left in the middle of the red pillar, and climb it to its top. V+, 55 mt.
L3 - Another very long pitch straight up some steep little walls, then right to a red slab to a belay. V, 57 mt.
L4 - Straight up along easier rocks to a good belay under the left end of the big roof (Lion’s left eye) IV, 45 mt.
L5 - Follow the pillar straight up, then a ramp towards right to an exposed belay, with a characteristic “euphorbia”, at the left end of the enormous yellow roof (Lion’s left eye) IV+, 40 mt.
L6 L7 Climb straight up some corners and little walls to reach the ridge, IV, 40 mt.
L8 L9 Climb along the right-hand side of the ridge with easier climb reaching the summit cairn.
Report grades are in UIAA Scale. No pegs neither others equipements are in place, but the route can be quite equipped by excentrics and friends.
Descent: along normal route – a very fine trip.
LION'S HEAD NORMAL ROUTE
The Normal Route to Lion's Head is really a fine trip: an easy scramble inside a wild environment. It's not recommended during very hot days. The starting point is the same as for climbing routes: East end of Asgaour. From here follow the water pipe-line as for approaching South Face to climbing, but when you're getting to the river you must cross it - instead of rising up the gully - and continue to follow by walking the main path. The track rises for a long time, reaching a wide ledge which crosses a face and leads to an incredible small lake in the very middle of a desert landscape. From the small lake head to left, taking the slopes in front of, leading to the top (3-4 hours from Asgaour).
When to climb and hikeBest season for climbing goes from October to the end of April. The wet period goes from the middle of november to the middle of December, while late spring and summer time are truly too hot for climbing and hiking.
Where to stay
Tafraoute has some hotels:
- Hotel Les Amandiers
- Hotel Salama
- Hotel Tanger
In Tafraoute there are also two equipped campings. Free camping near the town must be avoided.