Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Summit Success on Toubkal

I got home at about 3:00am this morning from a great week in the Atlas mountains, Morocco with 7 regular clients and friend and fellow instructor Paul who has been working for me this week.

The aim of the week was to climb Toubkal which is the highest mountain in the range and indeed Northern Africa and sits at 4167m. The whole team summited the mountain and have all returned home safe and well with a host of stories of adventure under their belts. We also summited two other 4000m peaks, a 3600m high pass and climbed a lovely grade one/two snow couloir on a rest day. There was snow down to the refuge throughout the week giving winter conditions every day.

We flew out last Monday, sadly my friend and regular client Mick was unable to join us due to a family illness which meant a team of 7 clients and myself and Paul Poole. We arrived late in Marrakech after a delay on the flights and drove to the mountain village of Ilmil where we stayed a night in a pleasant hostel.

Tuesday saw us loading up the Mule team with our expedition bags and then walking upto the Refuge de Toubkal, a high mountain hut that sits at 3200m which was to be our base for the week. We made our ascent in the cloud but were treated to stunning views of the snow capped peaks as we got ever higher.

On Wednesday we had an acclimatisation walk to a high pass at 3600m. There was lots of fresh snow about, the skies were blue and we had a great forecast ahead of us. We were all blown away by the beauty of the 4000m peaks that surrounded us and enjoyed a relaxing day of sunbathing, soaking up the views and taking plenty of photos!

With a good forecast we decided that Thursday would be summit day and we awoke to clear skies and made an early start from the refuge to climb Toubkal itself. As we climbed the weather deteriorated and became very Scottish! The winds were gusting 40-50 mph, it was raining and snowing and visibility was down to a hundred metres or so. Not what we had expected in Africa! Once over 4000m Andy decided that enough was enough and turned around with Paul. The rest of us pushed on and enjoyed the summit to ourselves strangely enough! A really good effort by all concerned as it was pretty harsh weather.

Friday was a rest day to recover from the previous days struggles. I had spotted a nice looking snow couloir from the hut and so we headed up and climbed it in 5 pitches in two teams. It was about Scottish grade one/two and on lovely firm neve with a slight step at mid height to add interest. We then scrambled back down and spent the rest of the day sunbathing, relaxing and recovering.

Saturday was our final climbing day and so Andy and I headed back up Toubkal and summited in beautiful sunshine with no winds and stunning views across the rest of the Atlas mountains and out across the Sahara desert. The others climbed Ras (4083m) and Timesguida (4088m) with Paul and enjoyed similarly stunning weather and views.

In high spirits we then descended to Marrakech the following day where we enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city for a night, taking in the street markets, the food, spices, carpet sellers, camels, monkeys, cobras and snake charmers all in total contrast to our week in the mountains.

A fabulous week in an exciting and beautiful part of the world and in great company, thanks boys and girls!


Vic said...

Sitting here at home in my "wizard suit"
Superb week!! Great hills, great views, great company (thanks Guys and Girls). Thanks for organising and I am already well on the way to getting permission for the next one :-)(The "bribes" from the markets worked)

Smally said...

“The High Atlas, an amazing, tranquil, unspoilt monochrome of grey rock and snow capped mountains offering attainable fantastic hiking, scrambling and climbing surrounded by a hundred mile 360 panoramic of Lower Atlas and Saharah desert. Contrasted with the colour, vibrance and general mayhem of Marrakesh makes this trip unique. Special. Stunning. Unforgettable. A must for those with a passion for mountains, scenery and exotic culture”!

Simon Small
October 2011

Smally said...

.....and of course a bloody good group of people who I had to privilege to share a summit with...fantastic trip Mr J. Bring on the next wave of mountain madness.....