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Post details Post   (Contract pics)
kernowclimber
2018-06-02 22:18:20
"Refuges below Jebel Toubkal.." from kernowclimber Contract pics
Picture: Refuges below Jebel Toubkal.. (Contract pics)

Climbing Jebel Toubkal.
Martin and I (of Purple Peak Adventures) climbed Jebel Toubkal in May 2010. It’s one of the easier 4,000 metre plus summits, but you will feel the altitude and the heat, so be prepared. We hired a 4X4 and drove the truly dreadful road from Marrakech into the Atlas Mountains where we stayed in an authentic eco-tourism guesthouse in a small Berber village named Tamatert near Imlil. Early the next day we set off up the Isougouane Valley from Imlil where there is secure car-parking. 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 Toubkal over two days and we each carried full winter climbing kit, down sleeping bag, water, food and snacks, which fitted into a 35 litre daypack. The climb up to the refuge (3,207m) where we stayed overnight should take anywhere from 6-7 hrs without mules and a little longer if you stop for any length of time for refreshments at Sidi Chamharouch (2,320m). 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 or you risk getting knocked off the trail!

There are two 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 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 (of the pit kind) 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 was at 9.30pm and we enjoyed a very warm and comfortable night's sleep.

In the cold chill of sunrise we followed a thin thread of climbers moving slowly up the snow and ice covered South Cwm route which was just passable without ice axe and crampons. After almost four hours climbing we reached the triangular summit marker. We had the summit entirely to ourselves for about 10 minutes and savoured 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 Plateau. Over 2,400 metres below lay Imlil.

The descent to the refuge took about two hours. Trekking 21kms with over 2,000 metres descent from the summit back to Imlil in eight 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.

We only drank bottled water or chai im nana (hot mint tea) that was offered to us by local people (in Arabic culture it is considered rude to refuse to accept tea that is offered to you), and carried sanitising hand gel which we used assiduously. Exercising some caution and common sense about where and what to eat and drink in Africa is the key thing, and we have enjoyed meals in scores of restaurants throughout Morocco on our two visits to the country and have never fallen sick. Enjoy your trip and your climb to the highest point of this incredibly beautiful country.
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