This area first arrived on my radar when looking for sports climbing in the area. One of the online forums mentioned this El Helechal and it’s great bouldering potential. All I could find in the form of topo’s was higher graded routes, most of which were out of my grades, however I still thought a trip would be worthwhile, and even if I could not climb the hard routes, I could find some more moderate ground to climb!
As it turned out when we arrived we bumped into another British couple who just happened to climb in a similar grade range. So we teamed up and started to work through the problems they had already climbed. I reckon the routes we climbed in the initial sector were from 4 to around 6a. After this I went for a little wonder South and found a labyrinth of fantastic routes, for every boulder I passed there was the potential for another route. One of the larger sections of rock had a fantastic traverse all along its base, it looked fantastic and although I never climbed on it, I’m sure on a return trip I will!
We then made our way towards the main sector, where we had a little lunch and then continued to find cool routes, that seemed to have had more traffic. One was through the entry cave and looked fantastic, however it always seemed busy. I tried another problem, that I later found to be 6b+, however I never got the moves all linked. I then worked with Alfie on a route I though looked easy, however I was time and again, caught out, again I could do all the sections, but always burned out on the link up!
The final problem of the day was one that Jess and Emma found, a devious crack that again at first glance seems easy, however it kept pushing all the way to the finish, trying to barndoor you off the route! So by the end of the day I was tired, my hands were rubbed raw and for the first time in a long time, I needed to ClimbOn my hands to help them recover. We camped at the top of the hill next to Alfie and Emma and after eating spent the evening sat outside in candle light overlooking the bay of Bolonia.
Emma had recommended to see in the sun set, and by luck I woke at 7.40 and after a peek through the curtains thought it would be a good shout. I could see morocco in the distance across the sea, and spent the next hour waiting and watching as the sun crept higher, flooding the sky with red streaks of light.
The next day we returned to the main area and struggled on a couple of warm up problems, again I underestimated how hard they were. This time the cave route was free and so I got on it. From first view I thought the hardest move was to rock over and exit the cave, as it turned out I was right. For the best part of an hour I tried every manner of getting out, often ending up locking off my left arm and basically being in a side plank across the top of the route. Eventually I pieced it together and the final solution felt relatively easily.
The next hour was spend in the cave, putting together the start and middle moves, this took time, mainly due to the fact that my fingers were raw, and every move proved to be painful! I made a couple of decent attempts, and on one go I linked the first moves, and although I made an error in the mid section, by leaving my hand behind on a hold out of reach, I managed to get out and grip the disc that firmed the most amazing jug. From this position I was able to smoothly move through the final moves to exit the caves. For the first time in a long time I was stoked to have climbed a route. Loads of effort went in, and it felt great to be stood atop of the boulder after a few hours work!
After we had another wonder around and found even more potential for amazing climbing! There was a huge rock formation that stuck out like pride rock! The rock was so featured, with pockets and jugs, overhanging to the max! Maybe one day this will have routes on it? It would be so cool!