Above: Johnny Dawes on Rumpus (E4 5c), one of Tafraout's many superb wide crack climbs.
Tafraout itself sits in a region of remarkable pink granite to the south of the quartzite uplands of Jebel el Kest. This spectacular landscape of pink granite 'eggs' has seen sporadic visits by European climbers since the early 1960s, but despite all of their reports about climbing to rival Joshua Tree, Tafraoute granite never really took off. During the 1990s things picked up considerably, and climbers mostly from Spain bolted a large number of sport-climbs in the area. Many of these offer superb climbing, mostly in the upper grades.
The reputation for crumbly rock was not helped by the British adventure-trad teams, whose brief forays onto Tafraout granite revealed nothing to compare with the high quality quartzite across the valley. For the best part of 15 years, development of this area was therefore rather limited.
In reality, however, there is some good quality rock and excellent climbing - you just have to know where to look. Recent interest from British trad climbers has picked up, and as more reports of good-quality routes appear in the Tafraout new-route book, the granite comes more and more into favour. Recent visits by high-profile climbers have once again taken the area a step closer to the kind of development that it perhaps deserves, and you can certainly expect a lot more from these tors in the future.
The granite is undeniably very course-grained and abrasive, and can certainly be rather crumbly in some cases. That said, when you find a good bit of rock the climbing here is absolutely superb! The new Tafraout Granite guidebook (due for publication in 2018) describes approximately 250 excellent granite climbs within just 7km of Tafraout, with everything from bouldering circuits to trad routes, bold slabs, jamming cracks, sport crags to multi-pitch routes.