In May 2010 I took a trip to the High Atlas to take on the highest mountain in North Africa - Jebel Toubkal, at 4167m. I wanted to see how the altitude would affect me, and to prep for a possible trip to Nepal later in the year.
As previous trips - I chose to go with Exodus again (Exodus Trip TMM) - because the price seemed reasonable, the guides are always local and pretty good, and I’ve never had any real problems with their organization.
Exodus run this trip all year round - with a winter version (more challenging), and a summer version (the one I took); however what I didn’t realize at the time was that in May - whilst you may be on the summer trip - chances are there’s still lots of snow around. This didn’t impact the main ascent (although only by a day), but it did mean that the planned routes shown in the map above were not possible. Rather than taking a circular route over a pass to the refuge - we cut across to Imlil before heading up Toubkal, then back to Imlil on the same route.
The summit day was hard work, first clambering over boulder fields, then scree, then hard-packed snow. I had my micro-spikes, so the snow was no issue, and the scree wasn’t that bad. I suspect that later in the year the large scree-field on the main up section of the ascent would be worse - while for us it was covered in a nice frosty layer of snow. On the way down, the snow had melted - giving some of the group an entertaining route down. This was the worst bit for me - as I prefer solid ground. If I was going to do it again; I’d recommend getting up before sunrise to start the climb early, and attempt to make it down again before the worst of the melt.
On recommendation from the guide, we didn’t stop at the refuge on the way down, but continued back to the guest-house just up from Imlil. This was a more comfortable place to stay - yet made for a somewhat knee-wobbling 2,000m descent. You can see this in the profile view below. On the way down from the refuge, the weather deteriorated - making it impossible for anyone else to summit Toubkal for a couple of days without full winter gear (we were lucky).
Click through to the video on Vimeo to see it in HD. Watch the photos in the viewer below, or click through to my Toubkal photos on Google Picasa. The map below shows the route we took, and should load a Google Earth viewer if you’ve got Google Earth installed on your system, or fall back to a normal Google map if not. Finally, the altitude profile by day is shown at the bottom of the post.
The following 4 images link to a panoramic viewer. Use the controls at the bottom of the viewer to go full-screen; or use the mouse to navigate around.
Goats on the way down from the high pass
High pass in the show after the ascent
Close to the summit
On the summit of Mt Toubkal
Photos are available here, or on PicasaWeb
Profile created by GPS Visualizer