With extreme elevations ranging from the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts to the High Atlas Mountains, it’s little wonder that Morocco is a hot spot for rock climbers. The Todra Gorge, situated on the remote eastern side of the High Atlas Mountains, is one of the more popular climbing destinations in the country, and many rock climbing tours focus on this region.
If your destination is a rock climbing tour in the Todra Gorge, you will want to arrive in Marrakesh. You’ll depart the city by vehicle, which will wind through the High Atlas Mountains up Tizi-n-Tichka pass and into the Dades Valley. This lush valley—a green oasis in an otherwise red-colored region—is the beginning of the Todra Gorge. Tinerhir is the last village you will encounter.
The gorge is characterized as a massive fault, which splits the High Atlas region from the Sahara Desert. At times, it seems only wide enough for the small rivers to run around the rocks. As you move further into the gorge, there will be a point where you’ve left the Palmeries and Berber villages behind and are left with only massive rock walls that rise 300 meters above the gorge floor.
There are nearly 400 different climbing routes on 40 different sectors in the Todra Gorge. The Trainee Blanche has only recently been developed and offers lots of potential for the curious climber. The Plage Mansour, on the other hand, has several easy climbing routes and is ideal for someone relatively new to rock climbing.
The Pilier de Couchant is perhaps one of the most challenging routes in the Todra Gorge with nine full pitches on a classic left-hand line, none of which are harder than a 6a+. Climbers can expect to encounter slight difficulties toward the top of the route, but when they reach the top at lunchtime, the sun will be blazing in the sky. Relax, enjoy the view and drink plenty of water before descending back to the canyon floor.
Further into Todra Gorge, climbers will come upon the Satanicos Sector, which is frequently overcrowded with tourists, and the technically intriguing Can Güllich. Les Jardins is more challenging while Chaos offers an interesting bouldering problem.
The Petite Gorge is about 20 minutes from local hotels, and it also offers a variety of rock climbing routes. A selection of 5s and 6s are found here, though the Trini Crack is 8a+.
For those who would like to explore the gorge but aren’t interested in rock climbing, trekking along the gorge floor is a an equally rewarding way to discover this area of Morocco. It is best to begin trekking through the Todra Gorge is in the morning when the sun will break through to warm the air. By the afternoon, expect it to become dark and cold. Some people say it almost feels like winter due to the significant drop in temperature.
It is best to visit the Todra Gorge during the summer. May through September are the best months to climb. Depending on the rock climbing tour you choose, you may camp out or stay at one of the local hotels. There is only one village in the Todra Gorge with a hotel though other accommodations are found on either end of the gorge. Campsites, however, run the entire length of the Todra Gorge.
Posted by JoAnna Haugen, managing editor at Journey Beyond Travel and author of Kaleidoscopic Wandering.
Photo by fightgravity4evr.