Morocco – Trekking in the High Atlas Mountains

Taking a well earned rest on the first day

Taking a well earned rest on the first day

Early in the month, I joined up with with a few mates to to go trekking to Morocco to take in the mighty summit of Toubkal which at 4167m is the highest and most climbed peak in North Africa.

Our trip started very well indeed and we had glorious weather as we made our way to the the Tamsoult hut which took is through a high pass at 2489m. The hut was pleasant enough and we all took the change to dry out the sweaty kit and bask in the glorious sunshine.

On the second day two groups left the hut to ascend to high cols at around 3000m as part of the acclimatisation process. I opted to go with the second group which would take a path up bast the Lepiney Hut to a high col of approximately 3800m. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t look too promising and with greater levels of snow than expected we opted to abort the trip at an elevation of around 3300m. This proved to be a good decision as within 10 minutes of our return to the hut the mountains turned very moody indeed!!

After a blustery night, the weather looked promising enough to make an attempt of a minor peak at an elevation of 3547m. The first part of the walk was easy enough as we climbed steeply on good tracks. Soon it was time to leave the main path and find our way up alongside a stream which soon became an easy snow slope, which was enjoyed by all. Once again, the mountain turned out moody and we were forced to make an early  descent just some 100m away from the summit. As we retreated to the hut more snow fell and as it did the prospect of making an ascent of Toubkal became more problematic!

With more snow falling overnight, it soon became apparent that ascending to the Nelter Hut at 3207m would be challenging due to the amount of snow that had fallen. With reports of waist deep powder snow from 2800m we reluctantly made the decision to abort the the trip and return to Imil. Lets just say that this was one the hardest decisions that we made a as a group as we all wanted to get the summit. That said, our collective judgement won through and our attention now turned to alternative plans.

Vieww from valley base in Imil

Vieww from valley base in Imil

The next day some opted for a short trek to the shrine while others opted to visit Imil for a bit of sight seeing and shopping. I opted for the sight seeing option, as my cold which had developed early in the trip was now in full swing! If you have never been to Imil before shopping is a unique experience and he / she who barters best will get a good price. After a bit of practice I soon got the hang of it and bought some nice gifts for modest sum. My rule of thumb was to take off between a thirds and a quarter of the ‘best price’ offered before sealing the deal.

Tge 'Square' Marrakech

Tge ‘Square’ Marrakech

The next day saw us heading off to Marrakech for the final leg of our trip and to experience the ‘Square’ and the maze of shopping passages that lead from it. The day passed with much sight seeing, eating and relaxing as we all unwound from the mountain phase of the trip. The final day saw a bit of last minute shopping before heading off to the airport for the flight home.

It has taken me longer than normal to write this blog entry, whether this is a bit of reluctance to accept the trip is over while I have such fond memories or because the trip still has unfinished business I don’t know. Either way, I know that I’ll be back next year for a second attempt on Toubkal and the Morocco experience.

I did have a great time on the trip and with reflection, I think the following actions would enhance the trip for next time:

  1. A little bit of pretrip training would be beneficial (being more hill fit);
  2. Remember to pack poles and my Tilly hat;
  3. More hill snacks and condiments;
  4. Pack a selection of pain killers, vitamin c etc;
  5. Anti bacterial gel;
  6. A couple of pairs of shorts;
  7. Indoor shoes (crocs etc).

If you would like to join me for the trip next year, then please drop me an email (chris@chmas.co.uk) and I’ll let you know what I have in mind.

 

 

 

 

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