17 Down Under:
17 DOWN UNDER. "A celebration of moderate grade climbing in Victoria". 184 pages. 285 images. Father & son team, Steve & John Morris, embark on a journey to climb and photograph 50 of the best rock climbs in Victoria, grade 17 & under. Inc bookmark $50.00
I did Jbel Toubkal on a team-building trip in September of last year (yes my work is orsm), and it was basically a pretty cruisy hike, if you're ok with a bit of altitude (it's "only" 4200m, so not super-high - though I start to noticeably slow down above about 3500m). We did it over 2 days too (first day to the hut, second day to the summit and all the way back down to Imlil) which helped. The locals do a foot race up and down from Imlil - the record is around 4 hrs, which is pretty mind blowing.
Imlil was fantastic - I wish we'd spent most of the trip there, instead of sight seeing in Marakech (which was ok for a tourist trap) and Casablanca (which sucked, although I hear there are good beaches nearby).
I spent 3 weeks at Todra in November 2004. Fantastic. If you're climbing 19 trad at Arapiles you'll be fine. All of the different sections of Todra have been developed by people from different parts of the world. There's a spot developed by a bunch of Welsh many years ago where the bolts are about 6 metres apart, and then there's the 6B+ multi-pitch bolted routes put up by some Italians where you can almost reach from one bolt to the next! Take a small rack and double 60's for rap descent and you'll have a ball. Transport's is easy and ...interesting. People are fantastic, but being dragged into a carpet shop every five minutes does wear a bit thin. The Moroccans are the most persistent salespeople I've seen. Somebody once told me that in India there's a hundred guys trying to sell you something; in Morocco, there's one. But dealing with that one is worse than the one hundred in India. Enjoy the trip.
Thought I'd add my 2 cents. I was in Morocco for about four weeks in April 2010, spending most of that time at the Todra gorge (I meant to travel around a bit more, but ended up spending most of the time in Todra because I liked it so much).
From a tourism perspective, Morocco is very well set up - they're used to lots of European travellers coming down, so it's pretty easy to get around and lots of touts/tours happening - there's a bit of hassle, but depending on what you're used to, it's not too bad. If you're on a budget, you don't need to hire a car as it's quite easy to take shared taxis or buses everywhere and you can get tickets on air-conditioned buses if you prefer. If you're only looking to get to Todra, just get on a bus to Tinghir (the nearest big town to the gorge) and then once you're there, hop in a shared taxi (or hire out a taxi) to take you up to the gorge (from memory in a shared taxi, it's something like a couple of dirham).
Just so you know, Todra gorge is a bit of a tourist trap. The main gorge has a road through it, that everyday has tour buses/4wd/cars coming through it and stopping with people coming out to check out the gorge. So a lot of the climbs are quite busy at the base (get used to your photo being taken a lot by awestruck tourists) - but once you get up a bit higher, it's a bit more peaceful. Also you can always go further out away from the main gorge for some peace and quiet.
No need to buy a guidebook beforehand, there will be guys in the gorge selling a photocopy of a handwritten book that is normally updated every year. A guy called Hassan normally has it - but beware there are some guys who pretend to be Hassan and will try to sell you their photocopies of the book at a much higher price.
If you're looking for a place to stay, there are a few hotels in the gorge, however I thoroughly recommend staying with Abdul Majid who has a house (He calls it Kasbah de Pyramides, Gite D'etape) with a couple of rooms he rents out in the little town that is about 5-10min walk down the road from the main gorge. It's cheaper (or at least when I was there) than in the gorge, his family makes great home-cooked food every night. You can also camp on the roof if you've got a tent which is even cheaper. Abdul also used to climb back in the day (he's buggered his knee in an accident now), and can give good info on what routes are good/bad. He also has gear for rent if you need.
The climbing is good fun, it's probably not as great as the stuff in Spain (I haven't climbed in Spain, so can't comment) but I had a great time whilst I was there. There's quite a bit in the high teen grades too, so no need to worry about grades. There's a lot of sport routes, if that's more you're thing (both single and multipitch sport) and there's also some good multipitch trad around also. Can't remember names, but there are some great multipitch climbs on the main gorge walls. There's normally a few climbers around (mostly European).
And there's plenty of other places around Morocco to climb too (though I never got to any of them, because I loved Todra so much) - Akre (see http://associationcaiat-caferueda.blogspot.com.au/) I heard was really good, and much quieter than Todra. Taghia is meant to be incredible (but not quite as convenient as Todra gorge) and Tafraoute is supposed to have really good trad climbing.
Finalising details. We're only in Morocco a short time and with plans to visit a couple of towns we're planning to drive to Todra Gorge from Marrakech and spending 3 days climbing there before heading back. We'll be there after the first week in Oct, no doubt still hot - but will it be too hot.? Anyone been there that time and thoughts on it?
I was there late Nov / Dec so a bit different, however I don't think it would be too much of a problem. Being basically desert it cools down a lot at night. Also as a very narrow gorge there are plenty of shady areas at different times of day; in fact we often got too cold climbing in the shade so it shouldn't be a problem.