Not far from the southern side of the High Atlas Mountains, in the vicinity of the oasis of Tinerhir, it’s located a wonderful place to stay and spend a few days climbing on spectacular limestone: the Todra Gorge. Todra Gorge is famous in reason of the beauty of the scenery and its sharp red limestone, very compact and abrasive, whose exceptional quality and durability is truly unsurpassed in my opinion. There are over 400 routes distributed in about thirty sectors inside and outside the gorge and it’s possible to choose amongst the endless single and multi-pitch bolted routes and also a few trad and mixed routes, where to make a convenient use of excentrics and cams. On the right side of the gorge, when coming from Tinerhir, it's located the most striking structure of the whole place, surely standing out amongst the various towers and crags of the gorge: the Pilier du Couchant, meaning Pillar of Sunset, a sharp and soaring pillar not to be missed, that characterizes unmistakably the starting part of the gorge. Really breathtaking! Visible from afar, this pillar is just after the ford across the river. It is oriented to the SW and catch the sun late in the morning. The routes are long and very interesting, with excellent rock!
The closest town to Todra is Tinerhir. It's a charming town known for its beautiful palm grove and its famous Todra Gorge. The city, populated by 40,000 inhabitants, has built in tiers around a headland dominated by the ruins of an old residence of Glaoui.
The closest airport to Tinerhir is the International airport of Ouarzazate, 165 Km. far from Tinerihir (2 hours and 30 minutes by private car), through a desert landscape with oasis and mountains in the background. Now the road is paved. Anyhow there are few flights getting to Ouarzazate and another option may be the International airport of Marrakesch, connected by several international flights.
From Tinerhir follow the P32 highway leading to Er-Rachidia and Erfoud. Just out of the village turn left along a road that goes in the direction of Todra Gorges. Reached the village of Tizgui, continue until you reach the gorge itself. The best thing to do is to park the car at the hotel "Le Vallee" and "El Mansour", just located at the entrance of the gorge, then continue by walking along the road through the gorge itself.
Pilier du Couchant - Voie Classique report (French scale)
Summit altitude: 1754 m
Difficulty: 6a French scale
Climbing length: 300 m
Equipment: mixed (pegs and bolts), to be integrated
Starting point: Todra Gorge
A wonderful great climb, quite advisable, sustained on 6a and physical. The equipment in place is correct on the crux moves, anyhow it's not enough and requires to integrate with quick protections. The rock is an unsurpassed red and sharp limestone. A route truly not to be missed!
Approach - After the first rock structure on the right – named Aiguille du Gue - it appears on the right side of the gorge the imposing Pilier du Couchant. Ford the river and head to the obvious pillar. The route starts in the lowest point on the wall, to the right of a tree located 10 meters above the ground. (The bolt on the left of the tree is the start of the route Abert).
L1 - Climb up the brief starting wall and slanting left head to the obvious crack on the right of the tree. Up the crack for a few meters, then exit right on a steep slab and climb it at first slanting left to a hole, then slightly right to reach the belay on small terrace, 6a, 40 m, 3 bolts, 3 pegs, 1 hole
L2 - On the left of the belay follow the beautiful crack, becoming a dihedral, 6a, 35 m, 4 bolts
L3 - Up the dihedral, pass a blade, then traverse a few meters to the right getting the belay, 6a, 30 m, 2 bolts, 2 pegs
L4 - A hard pitch up the dihedral again to a jammed block, then take a crack on the left leading to a comfortable stance, 6a, 30 m, 5 pegs
L5 - To the left around the edge, reaching a terrace to take a crack. Climb the crack, then overcome a small roof. Blades and slabs, then the belay, 6a, 55 m, 7 bolts, 1 peg
L6 - Climb the slab above the stance, then a slanting-left crack. On easier ground reach another crack on the right, climb it then a small overhang. On easier ground reach a small terrace on the ridge.
Descent - Easy, by walking, following the cairns on the plateau in the right direction (facing in) and getting the couloir "Du Niabe", where it runs the trail of the shepherds, leading to the entrance of the gorge.
“Escalade et via ferrata dans les gorges du Todgha” by Julio Soares - Aventures verticales Maroc - The most recent guidebook, available in Todra
“Rock climbing in the Todra Gorge” - Published Oxford Alpine Club (2015) ISBN 978-0-9567288-8-3 - The book includes almost 400 sport and trad climbs, from roadside single-pitch cragging to the superb long routes up the walls of the main gorge
The first guidebook "Escalade au Maroc - Todra" by Guy Albert is now unavailable.