Dispatch 1 from Big Walls of Morocco / May 21, 2013

Dispatch 1

Hazel Findlay and Emily Harrington are tackling big walls this month in Morocco. These two ladies are planning on taking on a 3,000 foot route in the Atlas Mountains from the ground up, a month in Morocco would test anyone – doing it on a vertical plain offers a unique perspective.

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We arrived in Taghia just three days ago and all of us received a slight beat down. First, Hazel had a bout of sickness while we were not even halfway up a six-pitch 6c called “a boire.” She’s a resiliant one, though, and we cruised our way to the summit and were greeted by a stunning view of Taghia and the massive cliffs that surround the tiny remote village that we’ll call home for the next three weeks.

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Taghia – tagoujimt n’Tsouiant (“Babel”)

The struggle was far from over, however, because we returned back to the gîte where we’re staying only to have me start projectile vomiting into a plastic bag because I couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time.

Needless to say, we were in rough shape. The following day we hiked up to the Tagoujimt n’ Tsouiannt wall to scope out our main objective “Babel” and to try to climb a route. “Babel” is massive and daunting. That, coupled with the fact that I was running a fever and felt dehydrated from puking the day before, left me feeling intimidated and insecure. We barely climbed, and instead hiked back down (me stumbling) to sleep the sickness off.

I woke up feeling loads better – a million times better in fact. But the weather did not reflect this. The sky high limestone cliffs were shrouded in dank, wet clouds. It had rained all night and there was not a dry piece of rock in sight. We drank too much coffee and ate Moroccan pancake bread “Bgirir” with honey and pondered our circumstances. In the end, we decided to hike down valley to a sport climbing crag called “Les Colonnettes de Tamdarote”.

Hazel and I both felt kind of awful, our bodies weak from illness and therefore our confidence slightly shaken. But in the end I managed a send of “click air” 8a+ on my third try. I realized that this was my hardest route in over a year, since before Everest. What a treat! My forearms were too full of lactic acid the whole time, but I persevered and made it to the end of the route. A small victory considering all that we have ahead of us, but a victory nonetheless.

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Now, we’re relaxing at Kris Erikson’s house in Agoudim, a village down valley. We are checking internet, drinking beer, eating mexican food made by his wife Chloe, and replenishing our psyche for the weeks ahead. Lets hope the worst is behind us!

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