Ksar Rock Cables
14 DECEMBER 2018
Recent reports indicate that all in-situ abseil anchors have been removed from Ksar Rock in Afantinzar. The three anchors had been installed in November 2017 with the support of local people in order to provide convenient descent routes from approximately 25 routes on what is one of the most popular crags in the region.
Reports indicate that the steel slings, all in natural thread placements, have been 'chopped' rather than simply removed.
Until the situation is clarified, climbers should probably treat any remaining steel cable with caution and are advised to assume that all abseil descents from Ksar Rock will require 'tat'.
Ksar Rock in afantinzar - no stranger to cable theft!
Why the Cables?
Although it is possible to walk down from the top of the crag, Ksar is one of those crags that has a large number of high-quality pitches on its lower half, with comparatively few 'escape' pitches above. This means that in order to enjoy multiple good routes on the lower half, climbers previously had to repeat the same upper pitches multiple times to reach the descent route. This was particularly true in the lower grades, as a single (rather poor) Severe provided the only way off the Cannon Tower for climbers operating below HVS.
In order to allow climbers to enjoy multiple (particularly lower-grade) routes in a day, steel cables were first installed some9 years ago, when Ksar started gaining popularity amongst western climbers. The original steel cables suffered from some corrosion, and were replaced in December 2015 with stainless steel chains.
In October 2017 the chains (which were simply hung around large blocks just like any nylon or dyneema sling) were removed, and although this was, at the time, believed to be at the hands of climbers, it is possible that local people took them as they were useful and expensive items. The missing anchors were replaced a month later with stronger, corrosion-resistant, galvanised steel cables secured through threads so that they could not easily be removed as 'crag swag'. If recent reports are correct, then these anchors have now been removed with the help of some serious wire-cutting devices, pointing at a deliberate effort, rather than opportunism.
It is not clear whether the most recent anchor removal has been carried out by climbers or by locals, possibly in protest of increasing numbers of climbers passing through the otherwise quiet village. The village has been invited to discuss any such concerns in the hope of maintaining what was an previously a very good relationship between climbers and local people.
Hopefully we'll have more progress on this issue over the Christmas period, but in the meantime climbers are urged to adopt a low-impact approach, respect the privacy and culture of the villagers, and be prepared to leave tat on abseil descents.