Igiliz is a shapely summit belonging to the Jebel El Kest Group, a moroccan adventurous range nowaday in full development, lying in the Eastern end of the semi-desert region of Anti-Atlas. The range began to be explored in the mid-nineties and now has more than 1000 trad climbing routes on the wonderful quartzite that characterizes the massif. Igiliz is a minor but interesting tower located in the wild and verdant Samazar Valley, also named Shangri-Là by western climbers and Tamza Valley by the local inhabitants, one of the most charming destination in the massif. Samazar is a long and narrow valley arranged along the West-East direction, home of some of the greatest rock structures in the Jebel El Kest group, as the mighty and complex Great Rock of Samazar and the massive Waterfall Walls. Besides these gigantic walls, the Samazar area counts tens of towers and smaller rock crags, made of immaculate orange quartzite, including some well-identified towers showing a true summit, like the small group including Igiliz and two other peaks named Agouti and Lower Agouti, located on the North side of Samazar hairpins, just at the beginning of the Western entry.
Igiliz is the lowest of the three summits and shows a pleasant and sunny South-East face virtually road side, counting four routes. Another route is located on the SW face, while the shady North Face of the peak holds the latest route and the longest one, "Gatto Grill".
Getting the Jebel El Kest area
The most developed town in the Jebel El Kest region is Tafraout, located on the Southern side.
The region can be suitably approached both from Marrakech and Agadir. Several international flights run to both the airports. The best choice is hire a car (in the Airports there are many Car Hire Agencies).
- From Marrakech the road to Tafraout involves a trip of 400 Kms and takes nowadays about 5 hours via the new Motor-way connecting Marrakech to Agadir, then by means of a busy road via Inezgane (near Agadir), Biougra and Ait Baha; alternatively you can follow the road via Asni, through the High Atlas range, a trip along a narrow mountain road inside a charming and scenic landscape, and Taroudant (it takes at least 7-8 hours).
- From Agadir the trip is shorter (you can drive to Tafraout in 2 hours on a 170 kms good road), but the flights’ choice is more restricted
Getting the Samazar Valley
For every person who visits the region, no matter if a climber or a traveler, a trip along the Samazar road is surely an unforgettable experience! The Samazar Valley lies immediately to the North of the better known Afantinzar Valley and can be approached from both ends: via a bumpy unsurfaced track turning off the Afantinzar road at Ighir or more suitably from the town of Tanalt via the Samazar hairpins, starting from Tafraout. The first approach is possible also without a 4WD vehicle in normal condition, though care is required.
Igiliz East Face - "Ciao Berbers" report
Difficulty: VS (Very Severe), 5a max - Grades are expressed in the alpha-numerical British Scale, as usual in the whole Jebel El Kest region. See in the dedicated chapter a helpful conversion diagram.
Climbing length: 200 m
First ascent: Alberto Rampini and Silvia Mazzani 2-11-2010
A lovely route on excellent quartzite following the East ridge on the right of the S wall.
Approach - From the foot of the Igiliz South Ridge near the road take to the right a good path skirting Igiliz East face, then go up to a col between the East Ridge and a detached pinnacle.
L1 - 4c, 45 m - An overhanging start up some orange beautiful rocks leads to an easier ridge of incredible carved rocks. Belay on a hole, under an enormous yellow overhanging block
L2 - 4c, 35 m - Follow a crack at the right edge of the block, then climb a ridge to belay under a steep wall
L3 - 5a, 30 m - Climb a black and orange vertical wall on the left, along thin cracks (crux), then easier ground
L4 - 4b, 45 m - Climb up on orange steep walls and black slabs to a belay (hole)
L5 - 3a, 45 m - Easier rocks leading on the top.
Descent - the descent is a scramble towards Lower Agouti (Westward), involving a brief and easy downclimb, or alternatively a short abseil. From the summit head to West, at first scrambling, then crossing an easy slab with a brief downclimb, to reach the basal slopes lying a few meters under the West Col of Igiliz. Reach the col, then descent along the opposite side of the pass to the road.
Igiliz North Face - "Gatto Grill" report
Difficulty: HVS, 5b max - Grades are expressed in the alpha-numerical British Scale, as usual in the whole Jebel El Kest region. See in the dedicated chapter a helpful conversion diagram.
Climbing length: 220 m
First ascent: Alberto Rampini and Silvia Mazzani 7-11-2013
This beautiful line on excellent rock runs in the middle of the hidden North Face of Igiliz, located in front of the Safinah group and only visible from the road lying below the Safinah.
Approach - From the base of Igiliz South Ridge skirt the East face, reach the East Col as for the previous route and here traverse leftward on ledges. Scramble down inside a huge hole to reach a notch between Igiliz and a front-rock (paintings). Starting from the notch.
L1 – 5a, 48 m - Up two little corners, skirt a red roof on the right, then return left to climb a wonderful orange wall and a ridge to a ledge.
L2 – 4b, 30 m - After a spur, head to right to climb a clean crack slanting right. Belay on a jammed stone.
L3 – 5b, 35 m - The crux pitch. Climb a steep red wall cut by thin cracks, up a little overhang, then belay under a black spur.
L4 – 4c, 30 m - Climb the spur, traverse left under a crack, then up the wall. Belay on jammed block.
L5 – 4a, 35 m - Climb a spur, a little wall and exit right.
L6 – 50 m - On easy ground to the summit.
- Jacob's Route VD (Very difficult), 60 m - First ascent: S. Nicholson and S. Ponsford, Jan 2009
- South Ridge S (Severe), 200 m - First ascent: M. Mortimer and M. Mortimer, 26-3-2008
- Fisting the Pods HS, 80 m - First ascent: T. Stedall and S. Cayzer Feb 2009
- Rain Dance VS (Very Severe), 60 m - First ascent: R. Macintosh and C. Cooper Feb 2009
Grades are expressed in the alpha-numerical British Scale, as usual in the whole Jebel El Kest region. See below a helpful conversion diagram:
Double ropes, a complete set of friends and nuts, quickdraws and slings, helmet and usual belay devices are all you need to climb.
Climbing doesn’t suffer official and established restrictions, but however climbers are urged to respect the ethics of the pioneers, in order to preserve in the area the original adventurous trad climbing.
In all the quartzite routes to date, no bolts and a few pitons have been fixed or used. In fact, the quarzite provides ideal cracks to place friends and nuts.
The most common rock is a pre-Cambrian quartzite, which quality is often perfect; its plenty of cracks allows a pleasant and sure climbing, with many opportunities of good natural protections.
The best seasons to climb are Fall (from the end of October) and Spring, till April, when the weather is mainly fine and the temperature is pleasant. Late in the spring and in summer the temperature rises up dramaticaly, and climbing is virtually impossibile. Winter (December to February) is traditionally the wet season and rain, cold and even snow, on the highest peaks, sometimes may be a problem. Nevertheless, you can find often pleasant temperature also in winter during the day, though the evening and the night can be quite chilly.
North-Side of Jebel El Kest – A nice place to stay is the charming and traditional The Kasbah Tizourgane, nearby Ida Ougnidif
South-Side – Different kinds of accomodation in Tafraout. An excellent choice is Hotel Les Amandiers on a hill dominating the town
Other options in Tafraoute: Argana Guesthouse www.argana-tafraout.com, Hotel Salama, Auberge Les Amis and Hotel Tete du Lion
There is also an equipped campsite in Tafraoute.
Jebel El Kest North Side guidebooks
“Morocco Rock – Jebel el Kest & Taskra North, 1000 Rock Climbs in the Anti-Atlas” by Emma Alsford and Paul Donnithorne, Crack Addicts 2012
"Tafraout - Rock Climbing in Morocco's Anti-Atlas" Vol II - The North Side of Jebel El Kest and Jebel Taskra by Steve Broadbent, Oxford Alpine Club 2013
“Moroccan Anti-Atlas North” by Steve Broadbent – Oxford Alpine Club 2010