Jbel Toubkal - Morroco`s Highest
by tall-story » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:23 pm
Date walked: 20/08/2016
Time taken: 15
Distance: 40 km
Ascent: 2700m4 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
My driver Mohammed was on time as I had expected, waiting on me as it happened, which is all good as you can rely on the Moroccan's but maybe not trust them, financially anyway !! So we were off and it was a horrible claggy, mucky, wet morning way more suited to Scotland in summer than Morocco Off we went and the drive through Marrakesh was pretty grim to be honest just water and mud everywhere with bits of landslides and rivers in flood. Things really didn`t improve till we started to climb into the mountains properly, and that's where things really started to get much more interesting
We were now well into the mountain now and coming up to the village of Asni which as most of the walking guides will tell you its the last place you will get cash, so if you don't have enough then get some now. Other wise I really wouldn't stop here as its just a tourist trap which in my opinion resembles the roughest part of any city in Britain (you will have been in similar places I`m sure) so onwards to Imlil which is your stop for the walk proper and like me your driver will no doubt drop you at one of the many Trekking guide offices (cos they are all buddies) and trying to make a pound I guess. As I was on my own on this trip it was all a bit intimidating and I`m sure they could see the (lost sheep look) in my eyes, so I was then talked in to having a guide for a couple of days which I hadn`t needed but felt that for company and local knowledge it might not be such a bad idea. So that was it, I was all set with Housain who had all the appropriate paperwork but not a decent pair of boots, it was with no more than dancing shoes Now my friend Karen who had been here before with DoE kids a few times was meant to be with me but due to new work commitments she couldn`t be, had told me on many occasions that it was fairly easy trek but just to take my time and walk slowly but just how slowly was soon very apparent, I called it a funeral pace (very slow) but as the walk is soooo steep I quickly settled into that pace otherwise you would sweat buckets and then dehydration etc etc.
We soon got into the walk and before I knew it we were at the village of Aroumd which is where my guide lives, he took me to meet his wife and son and also got a pair of boots of which I think was missing more stitching than it had (I have no idea how they stayed on his feet for the next couple of days). After about an hour at his house we set off again and by now the weather was clearing nicely and the temp was rising quickly too, so Housain then gave me a straw hat to help keep the sun off my head and neck, anybody that knows me will know I just don't do hats, well hardly ever so that took a bit of getting used to. As we climbed out of the valley from Aroumd the views just got better and better with photo opportunities every other step, I`m not the most chatty of people and with Housain`s English idle chat that I may have at home just didn`t work very well out here Soon we were at a small settlement called Marabout where we stopped for a rest and a drink and what a setting that was, looking down the valley to where we had just came from was quite stunning. After a wee break we set off again and this time it was very steep terrain with a lot of loose gravel so a lot of care was needed with each step after a couple of Km we arrived at another drink stop called Doudmet which is where my guide Housain met more guides and I met Coleen and Elle from Ireland and Devon who both just happened to work for the same company in Spain became friends and always seem to be walking somewhere in the world. They turned out to be a great couple with plenty stories of their adventures to tell, this made the last few Km up to the refuge way more fun than trying to talk to a guide who I think most of the time didn't hear me properly and just said yes to please me ?? After about another hour we were at Les Mouflons which was my base for the night and what a relief that was , after 6 hrs of walking in around 25deg and direct sun I was more than happy to get my bag off my back and later set up my bunk for the night, the girls I had met were in the other refuge, Refuge du Toubkal so that was me more or less on my own again.
As I said earlier Karen who set most of this up for me had suggested I had a day up here at this altitude to acclimatise but after a chat with Housain we decided we would go for the summit the next morning, as I was feeling as good as after any normal hill, the weather was to close in later the next day and it was over 12 hrs till we would go, I agreed with him. Fed and watered by 9pm and it was dark so there was nowt for it but to get the head down as it was a 6am rise for a 7am start.
Before I knew it my alarm was buzzing in my ear and as quietly as I could (many were still asleep) i got myself sorted then got breakfast sorted and was soon ready for the day ahead. At seven on the button we steped out the door, and b`jesus it was cold, way colder than I thought it would be I don't know what the temp would be exactly but I guess it would be -5 at least and it was such a dry cold compared to back home ? This final part of the walk rises so quickly you cant really see much so you just get the head down and get on with it. It is very steep and as a result with the altitude and the steepness you don't get very far and you are stoping for a big breath or two. To me the terrain on the final ascent was very much like a lot of Skye, incredibly steep with lots of scree mixed with bits like the decent of the Aonach Eagach at the Clachaig Inn, ie bedrock covered with marbles!! After a wee while maybe around 3000mts we hit some snow and it was like concrete plenty foot holds but if you missed your step you could be in bother, I didn't take my crampons because of weight issues at the airport but I did have my micro spikes which I didn't feel I needed on the way up but on the way down were a definite help. Between half and 3/4 of the way to the summit the gradient smooth's out a bit and life becomes way more easy. So about 1.5hrs in we were on the summit ridge I guess, and I got my first glimpse of the triangular summit marker and i`m not embarrassed to say but I had a tear in my eye as I knew it wasn't much further I was neither up or down with the altitude, the guide decided that it was time to stop for a break, at nearly 4000mts! And he wanted a fag but he couldn't get it lit because of the wind, so after 20 years of being a non smoker I offered to light his fag because I used to have a knack at lighting in the wind and for the first time in all those years I inhaled a cigarette, wrong and why I just don't know but I got some high from it, just as well we were having a sit down break
After our wee break wee just had a bit of a traverse across an easy snow field and about maybe half a km of distance to go and we would be there and Housain at this point was marching on and I was so pleased with myself and emotional I`m pleased he was away in front (cos guys don't get emotional ) and he might have seen the soft Scotsman in me So there we have it 2.5hrs from our start we were on the highest point in North Africa at 13839ft or 4167mts I think the big number sounds better
I was very lucky in the fact that the summit was clearish with very little of the expected haze and cloud as a weather front tried to come in. We messed about for a wee while on the summit, I should add that there was only four of us on the summit at this time I would have stayed way longer but Housain was starting to feel the cold, so after maybe 20 mins we were on our way back down. Going down was a bit of a different story from coming up, or I thought so anyway. It was good to get out of the altitude but every step was very precise because one false step and you were away skidding down some very steep slopes, which nobody wants least of all me. So although we were being careful it didn`t seem like long at all and we were back down and out of the tricky steep snow and onto more normal (munro type) walking. So after 2hrs of walking and a total of 4.5hrs we were back at the refuge and a very content Colin I had been chatting with Housain and we had decided that it might be just as well to get packed up and head back down the trail to Aroumd and to Housains house where I was to stay for two nights before getting my taxi back to Marrakesh to finish my trip to Morroco being a tourist rather than a mountain walker. I am not sure how to finish this other than to say it was fantastic and I would definitely do it again possibly with more walking either side of the main couple of Toubkal days, and you could easily do this without a guide but as I was on my own I thought It better although everyone looks out for each other so I really don`t think you would get lost or come to any great harm That being my taster for bigger mountains I am off to the Tatras very soon aand all being well I`m thinking of Kilimanjaro next year Arrrrggghhh........How do you add more photos ??? 625 pics into 25 doesn't go very well !!
by jacob » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:36 am
by tall-story » Sat Sep 03, 2016 11:23 am
by Graeme D » Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:53 pm
by Alteknacker » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:53 pm
by ChrisW » Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:32 pm
Really enjoyable adventure which made me long for pastures new
by dav2930 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:53 pm
Good luck with the Tatras and Kilimanjaro!
by tall-story » Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:28 pm