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    Moroccan, French Climbers Explore Tazarhart in Atlas Mountains

    Morocco’s mountaineering potential remains largely untapped.

    17 Nov 2022

    Rabat - Moroccan climber Facial Bourkiba has teamed up with French ice and mixed climber Jeff Mercier to ascend Tazarhart in the High Atlas mountains in Morocco.

    In a documentary titled “Land of the Cold Sun,” the two climbers highlighted their attempt to explore Tazarhart, or “little plateau” in Tamazight, which lies at over 3,900 meters above sea level. The plateau has seven 350-600 meter corridors.

    “Our objective is to go and find a gully, a ‘couloir’ on a north face,” Mercier said.

    Given that “mountaineering is totally non-existent in Morocco,” Bourkiba said in the documentary, exploring the alpine line was a tough task amid a lacking supply of mountaineering equipment in the country, except in some public markets located in mountainous villages.

    Bourkiba first learned his trekking skills eleven years ago before getting into mountaineering. The Moroccan athlete practices mountaineering in the high Atlas range particularly in the region of Tazarhart, near the Toubkal mountain.

    While there are a few Moroccans who have succeeded in ice climbing in challenging terrain such as Everest, mountaineering remains unpopular in Morocco.

    “More than that, Moroccan society will never accept what we do, because it is dangerous and it is not well-known at all,” says Bourkiba.

    In this context, “climbers have a hard time finding technical equipment and clothing” which “has held back the development of mountaineering and ice climbing in Morocco,” the climber argued.

    In addition to structural and cultural constraints, the prevalent stereotypical portrayal of Morocco as a desert country overrides people’s perception of the Atlas mountains as a potential regional hub for mountaineering.

    “The idea that there is ice in Morocco, which is a country in Africa, a country that has a desert, seems pretty crazy,” Bourkiba stated.

    Echoing his teammate’s statement, Mercier said in the opening of the “Land of the Cold Sun” documentary that Morocco “is a bit of an off-destination compared to the places I usually go to.”

    After completing the Tazarhat expedition, Bourkiba announced this week his new challenge along with Remy Veness and Sam Clarke in the Atlas mountains.


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