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kernowclimber
2010-05-27 15:34:39
"The summit of Jebel Toubkal, Atlas Mountains" from kernowclimber Contract pics
Picture: The summit of Jebel Toubkal, Atlas Mountains (Contract pics)

Jebel Toubkal climb, Morocco
Mcrtchly and I have just returned from a successful assault on the summit of Jebel Toubkal which at 4,167m (13,671 ft) is the highest point in N. Africa. We drove from Marrakech and stayed overnight in the Berber village of Tamatert before setting off early the next day from Imlil where there is secure carparking.

We did not hire porters, mules or a guide, preferring to go it alone with the aid of a 1:50.000 map covering Toubkal by Orientazion and a GPS. We planned to tackle this over 2 days and each carried full winter climbing kit, down sleeping bag, water, food etc. which just about fitted into a 35 litre daypack. The climb up to the refuge (3,207m) where we were to overnight takes about 6-7 hrs without mules and a little longer if you stop for any length of time at Sidi Chamharouch. The trail was rough and dusty and very busy with mules rushing by urged on by impatient porters. You have to be careful to get out of their way quickly as I was almost knocked off the trail twice.

There are 2 huts to choose from for an overnight stay - the Refuge de Toubkal (run by the CAF) and the newer Mouflon Refuge. We chose the latter and had booked a private room (rather than the dorm) which was not expensive. This consisted of a double bunk bed with blankets and pillows. Hot showers are available and the toilet facilities were clean if basic. Hot meals can be arranged and there is a shop well stocked with water and snacks. We brought our own dried food and plenty of hot water was obtainable in the porters' kitchen. Lights-out is at 9.30pm; we had a very warm and comfortable night's sleep here.

We were told crampons weren’t necessary. Quite apart from the lack of proper mountaineering equipment, I just couldn't believe the clothing and footwear some people had on: sneakers, denim jeans, thin cotton jackets and most were not carrying any spare provisions or clothing. Enough said.

In the cold chill of sunrise we followed a thin thread of climbers moving slowly up the snow and ice covered South Cwm route. After almost 4 hrs climbing we reached the triangular summit marker. We had the summit entirely to ourselves for about 10 minutes and shared an emotional moment taking in the magnificence of our surroundings: ravens soared over snow capped mountains that towered over rocky valleys with frigid waterfalls clinging to their sides, beyond which lay wave after wave of jagged brown peaks sweeping down to the Saharan Plateaus. 8,000 ft below lay Imlil where we had to descend that day.

The descent to the refuge took about 2hrs. 21kms and 8,000ft descent in 8 hours carrying a 12 kilo pack was gruelling, but we were relieved not to have suffered from the effects of altitude and would recommend this mountain to fit hill walkers looking for a slightly different challenge set amid magnificent mountain scenery. The experienced need not hire a guide as the trails are well signed and the abovementioned map is more than adequate.
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