The Terminator Buttress

  • Grade context: FR


This prominent feature is easily recognized with its west face gashed by a sinister 80 meter rift (The Schism).

From your car, The Terminator illusively appears to be the highest point on the mountain. It’s actually a lesser supporting buttress, fractured vertically into three large members.

Featured routes include:

  1. The Schism (Project)

  2. Side Winder

Access issues inherited from Djebel Ressas

Regional Status:
Most of Djebel Ressas is now an excellent setting for a day of rewarding outdoor activity. But the site hasn’t been developed in any formal sense as a recreational objective. Perhaps that’s partly due to its official status as a “nature preserve”. Just as likely, though, it’s because there hasn't been much of a demand for that kind of development in Tunisia. Ressas is a bit off the beaten path, and most folks prefer to spend their leisure time nearer the beaches or in other venues. At this writing there are no maintained hiking trails, trail markers, or service facilities at the mountain. Images viewed on Google Earth™ give some idea of the approaches and the general landscape.
Until January of 2007 hikers at Djebel Ressas could come and go as they pleased. That winter, however, stricter regulations were established following a brief police action against fundamental Islamic insurgents hiding in the surrounding region. Since then, permission is needed in order to explore the mountain legally. This can be arranged by checking in at a national guard station in the nearby village of Mornag and receiving a permit. Later, you might be required to present the permit to an officer waiting at the base of the mountain.

If you don’t mind flying under the radar, an unofficial approach would be to arrive early enough in the morning (say before 8:00 am) to reach the trailhead before the officer, thereby avoiding the annoying detail of acquiring and presenting a permit.

It may be possible to arrange for permission in advance by contacting the regional security officer at your country’s embassy in Tunis. I do this when I’m scheduling a group excursion to the mountain, just to avoid any hassles. You’ll be asked to provide basic information about your trip such as the date, number of your party, names of participants, and a brief itinerary outlining your plans. Working with the U.S. embassy, it usually takes me from one to two weeks to secure a permit in this way.

Ethic inherited from Djebel Ressas


The development of climbing at Djebel Ressas has been gradual and sporadic. In the absence of an active climbing community no rules have been established beyond those personally dictated by good form, common sense, and respect for the local herdsmen who graciously allow access to what is essentially their backyard. While sport climbing has taken hold on Djebel Zaghoan to the south, the climbing on Ressas has remained traditional. Some old isolated bolts can be found on the higher cliffs, but no bolted routes had been established at the time of this writing.

The ratings indicated for these climbs are tentative and have only been backed up by a very small handful of experienced climbers. Besides, the folks I partner with aren’t much concerned about that side of the business, anyway. As long as you’re climbing with pals, and the rock is fun and safe, it’s all good.
Future Development:
The projects described here are just a fraction of what could be done, and there’s plenty of potential for new developments. Undoubtedly, stronger climbers will put up higher caliber routes in the future.


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Grade Route

The massive crevice slicing down from the top of the Terminator Buttress is both cool and spooky. Climbing up into the gap itself is messy business due to some thick foliation and plenty of loose rock. Plus, lurking in the darkness above are dozens of toaster-sized boulders perched on a hidden ramp. (Beware: these widow makers are just waiting to cascade at the slightest offense.)

Jim Ryan and Christian Hettick initially explored some ground-up climbing in The Schism, but found it to be an inhospitable place. If you decide to make the attempt, watch for pieces of the abseil anchor they built for their escape.

FA: Jim Ryan & Christian Hettick, 2005

FA: 1981

The headwall face left and adjacent to The Schism offers what looks to be some challenging climbing. A few bits of tired pro (pitons and bolts) still remain from some past archaic project. Good luck with that!

Starting from the base of the Head Wall, continue hiking toward the summit, left and up around the Terminator. The cliffs to your right offer some areas to investigate as well as a variety of potential routes to the top of the Terminator. Side Winder is just one of these, and since the route itself isn’t that interesting, it won’t get a description here. Besides, you’ll probably have more fun poking around and finding your own way up. I mention it to let you know the area has been explored a little as a 5th class access to the summit of The Terminator Buttress.

This crag is unlocated

If you know where this crag is then please take a minute to locate it for the climbing community. Please contact us if you have any issues.


Check out what is happening in The Terminator Buttress.

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