After organising the fifth Imik’simik bouldering trip to Oukaimeden, I thought it would be a good idea to ask a participant himself about his experience instead of spreading my own endless enthusiasm of Oukaimeden. Michael Karner was so kind to answer some questions that give you an insight to what’s like to be part of the Imik’simik trip to Oukaimeden.
Bouldering at Oukaimeden requires plenty of finger strength as the style of the climbing is all about crimps, edges and slopers on rough but detailed sandstone rock
Easy one to start with: How was it to be part of a semi-organized trip?
For me personally, it was a very good opportunity to check out the bouldering at Oukaimeden without organizing a trip myself, which can require a lot of effort, especially when you go somewhere for the first time and you don’t have lots of information. As I also couldn’t find a squad for the trip, I decided to join the Imik’simik-trip and meet up with other people from several countries.
It was very easy to connect with other participants in advance and organize our collective arrival and stuff, as Keoma (founder of Imik’simik) got us in touch and provided us with lots of useful information.
During the trip, I appreciated to always have the choice where and with whom to go for a session or just to hang out in the cozy chalet or go for a hike or a tajine. To sum up, there are quite a few good reasons to join a trip like Imik’simik. Big thanks to Keoma for all the effort he’s been putting (and still puts) in his project and also just being a helpful and adorable buddy to chat and hang out with!
How would you describe the natural surroundings of Oukaimeden?
First of all, the whole area around the Oukaimeden village offers a very special and stunning setting for bouldering. As it’s located between 2,500 and 3,000 meters above sea level, you’ll find a remarkable mountainous atmosphere up there. Due to the high altitude, there is not very much flora and fauna – especially in the winter months. Still, the mix of green grass, some little (mountain) flowers or bushes and the rocky terrain is, to me, really lovely and beautiful.
What is the rock like, compared to areas you have been?
As in many other areas, the rock structure and features in Oukaimeden vary quite a lot within the area itself and sometimes even on one single block. But generally, I have the feeling the rock is mostly really solid compared to other sandstone areas. However, you still have to be careful, sometimes it seemed to be okay but, in the end, a single touch was enough to break something out. Moreover, I’d say that you rather climb on small holds, because the rock offers a rough but detailed texture. Better bring some finger strength, that will get you up the crimpy faces!
What’s definitely special, is how fast the rock dries up after rain, snow or sleet – you can get all of it within one day, I promise. That’s also due to the strong wind and sun but I’ve not seen any rock dry so quickly.
What is typical of bouldering in Oukaimeden?
After topping out, you always wish for more oxygen! The altitude, I found out, really makes a big difference. Besides that, the climbing itself is lots of straight up climbing on crimps, edges but also slopers rather than overhangs or roofs. I already mentioned that some finger strength will be helpful.
What’s definitely special and very convenient, is that you always get a ready-to-eat tajine during the day. So, whenever you get hungry at the crag, you can just make a quick (lunch) break and go for a delicious tajine in the village that’s already waiting for you.
What are the best three lines in Ouk and why?
Coupe Franche, Centre Ville – For me, undoubtedly, the recent king line in the area. You don’t find such beautiful and challenging, but also consistent lines very often, especially not located in the middle of a village, about 50 meters away of the next restaurant to grab a tajine, surrounded by green grass and still being a quiet place.
The Meeting, Backyard – Short and sweet line that many climbers are capable to climb, as it is a 6b. For sure one of the coolest boulders around that grade in Oukaimeden and beyond. Oh, and it’s located right in front of the terrace of the chalet, so you can have a coffee and at the same time cheer up your buddies on this beauty!
Shining, Bakery – This is one of my favourite FA’s from the trip. Even though it’s not my preferred style of climbing, those technical moves through that beautiful piece of rock are pure pleasure. As it is around 6c+ (as I suggest), it’s also worth trying for many climbers! In the end, I would recommend more or less everyone who visit The Bakery to just head up the slope for another 5 minutes to reach this nice little field of perfect blocs. Especially when you like the challenge around 7a you can have a lot of fun up there, but there are nice “easier” lines as well as lots of potential for further FA’s too.