Probably the most famous climb in the Atlas Mountains, Tizi n Tichka is less remote than Tizi n Test but the road is smoother and views just as incredible. This used to be the highlight of the main one day classic ride in this part of Morocco, Marrakesh – Ouarzazate but extensive road works in the last few years have made the road leading to the climb un-rideable so you need to start with a transfer to the start.
When to Ride Tizi n Tichka
The road is open all year and this is busy (compared to other roads in the Atlas Mountains) with traffic going to and from Marrakesh. The summit at 2,257m gets regular snow through the winter but can be warm and sunny even in December & January. The road is worked on regularly so as long as the temperatures are ok for you, the climb will be passable. The best time to ride in the Atlas is late Feb to early May, and then October & November. Most people riding Tizi n Tichka will be riding from Marrakesh so the temperature difference between the start of the climb and the summit can be massive so make sure you are well prepared.
Riding Tizi n Tichka
The summit is 104km from Marrakesh but constant roadworks makes it necessary to do the first part on a transfer and start the ride. The road has been resurfaced over a number of years all the way up the climb and goes from loose gravel to smooth tarmac as you get to the start of the climb. There are some shops by the side of the road here if you need anything.
The road twists and turns for all of the 35km of the climb. With an average gradient of just 3% you are big ringing pretty much the whole way up. The scenery changes from pine forests near the bottom to high mountains at the top. In the first 24km the gradient averages just 2% but is fairly inconsistent with some short downhills and the very occasional steeper section. The road then becomes more dramatic for the final 11km.
The heart of the climb is in the top section. You will now be at 1,800m and starting to feel the coolness in the air and see the change in scenery. The road surface all the way to the top is absolutely pristine having been resurfaced in 2019. There are now genuine hairpins, some slightly steeper sections and breathtaking views, a real cross between an Alpine climb and other Atlas cols. The scenery has an element of Mont Ventoux to it with a lunar look coupled with the poles on the side of the road. There are a couple of great sections as the road loops back tightly against itself and the best part of the climb is 11 to 5km from the top – 6km of the most amazingly designed road you could imagine. There is a popular panoramic stop about 6km from the top where you can get a photo of the road you have just come up.
By now you are over 2,000m and the top section is normally chilly, if you are taking your time up the climb the panoramic stop is a good place to grab a drink and put on a layer. The last section is on a wide section of road and the views are incredible. After a left turn and a final straight section, you come to the summit where there is a great photo stop and a few shops. We have been here in blazing heat, heavy snow and everything in between so be prepared at all times of year. The descent down to Ait Benhaddou is incredible and you turn off the main road fairly quickly leaving you 70km of empty roads in a stunning 105km ride.