The wild and beautiful Samazar Valley is located in the Jebel El Kest Group, a moroccan adventurous range in full climbing development, located 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. The Samazar Valley, also named Shangri-Là by the climbers and Tamza Valley by the local inhabitants, is one of the most charming destination in this massif, a true mine of big walls and smaller crags, offering plenty of magnificent trad climbing on high quality quartzite.
Samazar is a long and narrow valley arranged along the West-East direction, home of some of the greatest rock structures in the 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 crags, as Rainbow Buttress, Agouti, Igiliz and many others.
Rainbow Buttress is a sunny cliff of excellent orange quartzite located in the Samazar Valley, at the very start of its Eastern entry and overlooking the village of Ighir. This crag was explored for the first time in the October 2011 by the Italian climbers Alberto Rampini and Silvia Mazzani, who realized three new routes, Rainbow Bridge, Orange Rocket and Sweet Sweet Afantinzare Dogs. In the following years many other routes were opened by the British climbers. Now on Rainbow Buttress there is plenty of top quality routes on excellent orange quartzite. The climb is middle grading on long mountain routes with a straightforward descent via a vegetated gully.
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.
Road approach to the Samazar Valley
As told, Rainbow Buttress is situated at the Eastern entrance of the Samazar Valley, at its very start. It can be quickly reached from the small village of Ida Ougnidif (Northern side of the Jebel El Kest), located nearby the Kazbah Tizourgane on the main road connecting Agadir to Tafraout. If you stay in Tafraout the approach is longer across the Tizi N’Tarakatine Pass and involves more than 1 hour of driving.
From the village of Ida Ougnidif take the concrete road rising with several bends to enter the Afantinzar Valley. Many cliffs can be viewed on both sides of the road. After the bends and before the small village of Ighir there is a junction sign-posted Aouguenz. Ignore this road branching to the right and proceed on the main one getting another junction in the village of Ighir, near a little mosque. Here ignore the main road leading onto the Afantinzar Valley and take on the right the road to Samazar. Follow it for a little bit (few hundred of meters) and park the car in a pull-out just in front of the obvious orange crag facing South.
Rainbow Bridge (British scale)
Summit altitude: m 1600
Difficulty: HVS, 5b (British alphanumerical scale)
Equipment: none, the conformation of quartzite allows conveniently to put down protections along the pitches and on the stops
Route length: 200 m
First ascent: Alberto Rampini and Silvia Mazzani 2011, October 30th
Starting point: start of the Samazar road near the village of Ighir
An excellent classic route on beautiful quartzite
Several poor trails start nearby the pull-out, leading to the crag in about 15 minutes. The starting point is situated on the right of “Sweet sweet Afantinzar dogs”, below a little wall, between two huge blocks on the left and some trees on the right.
L1 - Climb the little wall, cross a ledge and then climb a fine crack leading to a stance below a big block. F4a, 30 m
L2 - Reach the block and the upper terrace; from here climb a little corner on the left, then a beautiful orange wall with very good holds and finally a short crack. F4b, 27 m
L3 - Another orange wall cut by some little corners leads to a wide terrace. F4a, 35 m
L4 - Climb directly the fine orange wall cut by two parallel cracks, following the left one. Reach a wide ledge. F5a, 30 m
L5 – From the right edge of the ledge climb a smooth corner, then another magnificent orange wall cut by two other cracks. Climb the left one again (crux) and belay on an exposed rocky step. 5b, 20 m
L6 – From the step traverse 2 mt. left, then climb an edge and some little walls reaching the top of a pillar. Scramble down 2 meters and belay. 4a, 30 m.
L7 – Climb easily the ridge on the left, 28 m
Descent: from the summit head to East for a few minutes (in the left direction facing out), then follow on the right the first obvious vegetated gully leading easily to the bottom of the crag (20 minutes from the top).
Plenty of top quality routes on excellent orange quartzite! The climb is middle grading on long mountain routes with a straightforward descent via a vegetated gully.
- Crock of Gold HVS
- The Main of light HVS
- Orange Rocket VS
- Sweet, sweet Afantinzar dogs VS
- Crocked Eclipse HVS
- Route 66 VS
- Rouster wall VS
- Inverted V VS
- Hee HAW E1
- Chocolate Orange HVS
- Black Peter HVS
Double ropes, a complete set of friends and nuts, quickdraws and slings, helmet and usual belay devices.
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 best seasons to climb are Fall 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 dramatically 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 – 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
In Tafraoute there is also an equipped campsite.