Friday, 25 October 2013

2013 2014 Trips pdf NEW!

NEW NEW! The fantastic winter and non-winter pdf for all trips in the coming year. Don't delay...!

Also don't forget that is now a trading name of The Mountain People :) 

The Mountain People Atlas Mountain trips 2013 2014 in conjunction with NomadicMorocco

Friday, 7 September 2012

Competition on our Facebook page!

To mark our recent 100th "like" on our Facebook page- without it has to be said us doing very much about it(!), we're giving away a copy of Des's "Mountaineering in the Moroccan High Atlas" to give you time to prepare for the coming winter season!

Just click on this link to enter - and good luck!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Ramadan 2012

According to the calculations made by the Moroccan Ministry of Religious Affairs, Morocco will celebrate the holiday of Eid El Fitr , which marks the end of Ramadan, on Monday 20 August 2012.  Most Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait and Egypt, announced earlier yesterday (Friday 17th) that they will celebrate Eid El Fitr on Sunday.

Anyone visting or already in Morocco, should be prepared for a holiday atmosphere for a few days and be extra flexible when it comes to travel arrangements! If you're planning to be in the mountains, be prepared to chill for a day or two as your local staff may want to take some days with their families.

Eid Mubarak!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Do you only guide in winter, or other times too?

We answered this recent question on our Facebook page by saying:

Lake Tislit, Imilchil
Lake Tislit 2250m, Imilchil lakes area is a blissful area to camp at in the summer
Not exclusively winter but mainly. October - May is our normal season. Outside those months on request and it also depends on what area of the massif - e.g. the Mgoun plateau and Ayyachi areas are normally fine in mid summer whereas the Toubkal massif or anywhere further west is just too hot.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Our Toubkal Mountain Guides sister website

We've just posted our 2012 / 13 season (winter) pdf for the Toubkal massif over on our sister website.

The direct link to the pdf is

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Rock-climbing in Morocco

Although we have offered some rock-climbing/scrambling courses/trips in the Moroccan High Atlas in the past, it was never something that took off for us nor something that we felt was an intrinsic part of our product range - to speak like modern marketeers! Our "thing" was - and still is - to explore the more remote peaks, valleys and villages in this great range and try to get as well away from the commercial caravans that one sees on Toubkal as possible. (Yes we do guide on Toubkal but tend to specialise in winter mountaineering trips where we feel that clients get value for money as opposed to trekking trips in the summer with lots of other large groups around.... anyway we digress).

As it happens with these kind of things, we met Jeremy Jones of at a wedding recently (of one of our guiding colleagues) where we had a chance to swop some stories and notes about working in the mountaineering world in Morocco. We had vaguely heard of this new start-up but with us being based on the rural south side of the mountains, we tend to be a bit out of things when it comes to Marrakech news!

As it turns out Jeremy and his business colleague Jay Parks have been around in-country for a while scouting out the rock scene quietly as well as learning the language. Last autumn (or "fall" as they say in their home country!), they set up and have seen a steady stream of satisified clients already. Jerermy positively enthuses about all the locations they work in and from looking at their website, they certainly seem to have gotten to know the geography of the Moroccan rock world well already!

From the huge limestone walls of Todra, to the quartzite walls of the Anti-Atlas in Tafraoute to Zuhelika which is less than 2 hours away from Marrakech and offers 16 known single pitch sport climbing routes, three of which lead up to a second bolted pitch with grades ranging from 4 to around 6b/6b+ French grade (5.7 – 5.11a). Other areas they plan to develop include the massive walls of Taghia.

Jermey and Jay offer everything from single day climbing for people visiting Marrakech that want to escape the madness of the souks to mult-day trips to the further away places such as Todra and Tafraoute. Logistics, transport, accommodation as well of course as guided climbing are all things they offer.

So we would recommend you have a look at their site, be inspired by some great photos and then plan a day or more with them on your next trip to Morocco. But don't forget the remote parts of the High Atlas as well!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Trekking in the Alps and in the High Atlas

Both the Alps and the Moroccan High Atlas are great mountain ranges. Both provide stunning trekking and both provide great winter possibilities as well including snowshoeing.

Hilary Sharp of Trekking in the Alps and myself Des Clark of NomadicMorocco are good friends, good colleagues and both (of us) offer similar type trips in the Alps and High Atlas. So all good reason to issue a joint pdf advertising our trips for the forthcoming season in 2012.

When I say we offer similar type trips, I'm talking about small group numbers, highly personalised, professional and attentive to detail - both pre-trip preparation and on the hill in terms of safety, environmental knowledge etc etc.

In terms of knowledge, Hilary wrote the first English language guidebook to Snowshoeing in the Alps and Des wrote the first English language guidebook to Mountaineering in the High Atlas.

Have a read of our 2012 trips pdf and begin to plan your next great mountain adventure!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Winter 2012 trips

Just click on the image for more information on what we believe are some of the best winter mountaineering experiences in the whole of the High Atlas!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Friday, 14 October 2011

Eid al-Adha (6th / 7th Nov)

The ‘big Eid’, in Morocco called Eid el-Kbir or Tafaska (Berber), commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God, and the fact that he was instead able to sacrifice a ram. It varies from country to country as to how it is celebrated, but in Morocco this is a time for family. Each household will sacrifice a ram or a male goat, or possibly both depending on the family’s ability to afford the animals.

Except in the most touristy areas of Marrakech, everything else will come to a standstill for the first day at least. In some towns it can take up to a week for things to return to normal. Starting a trip that is reliant on local staffing to any degree during this time will be fraught with difficulty and probable time delays. Organising a trip that runs either side of Eid el- Kbir will need careful consideration and prior discussion with any locals involved as to what your mutual expectations are.

Depending on your relationship with locals, you may be invited to join them in the sacrifice or for a meal at this time. If you are, feel privileged, and honour your hosts by joining them and relaxing with them for the day or two.

The mountains can wait! It is a fascinating time.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Route of the Week (6) Anrhemer 3892m

While there are many climbing routes on this peak, most on the east face and north-east arete are difficult to access. The ascent of the peak via Tizi Tacheddirt (3172m) is a practical option, and one that opens up the possibility of a long ridge traverse (Anrhemer–Toubkal traverse).

Anrhemer 3892m
Equipment In winter, ice-axe and crampons.
Time 9–10hrs (by returning the same way)
1580m, F
Tacheddirt refuge (2314m)

With Tacheddirt now accessible from Imlil by car on metalled road (outside winter), this opens up the area much more. However you choose to access it, this route can either be done in a day or broken into two days by a draughty bivvy on Tizi Tacheddirt followed by an ascent to the peak and then a descent back to Tacheddirt village. Note that there are no easy water sources on Tizi Tacheddirt if intending to bivvy there outside winter.

From Tacheddirt, follow the well-defined trail ENE to Tizi Tacheddirt (3172m, 2hrs 30mins). Take the prominent spur running up and due S without difficulty to the obvious saddle on the W ridge running down from Anrhemer. This is Tizi n-Tigourzatine (3680m, 1hr 30mins from Tizi Tacheddirt).

Follow this ridge to the W summit (3885m), with stupendous vistas of the Toubkal massif SW. From the W summit, descend to a gap which is at the top of a gully on the N face (possible route of ascent). From the gap, turn a small rock pinnacle on the N side, followed by a direct ascent up the final jagged crest to the main E summit (2hrs 30mins–3hrs from Tizi Tacheddirt; 5hrs–5hrs 30mins from Tacheddirt village).

Descend the same way, unless linking in with a traverse to Bou Iguenouane.

All 50 route and detailed practical information appear in the Cicerone published Mountaineering in the High Atlas. To buy a copy of this book for just GBP 15, follow this link.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Review of our book

Route of the Week (5) Ras & Timesguida n-Ouanoukrim 4083m/4088m East ridge route

These are the second and third highest peaks in the High Atlas, and are commonly climbed by commercial groups. Ras (third highest) is the more visible one, easily seen at the head of the valley when approaching the Toubkal refuges. Its north-east face is split by a central couloir, while its south side drops to a gentle col and subsequently rises to Timesguida (= mosque), which is 5m higher.

Ras n-Ouanoukrim 4083m
Equipment In winter, ice-axe and crampons.
Time 6hrs (by returning the same way)
900m, F (winter)
Start Toubkal refuges (3200m)

From the refuge, head due S to the prominent col at the head of the valley, Tizi n-Ouagane (3730m). Keep initially W (true left) of the river, passing a band of yellowy cliffs and Amrharas n-Iglioua on your right before a flattening and the junction with the track leading SE to Tizi Ouanoums (30–45mins).

Pass through a narrow defile and potential avalanche trap from the W-facing slopes above for 30m before the final slopes rise to the pass (2hr–2hrs 30mins). Beware of cornice build-up, usually on the S-facing side.

The E ridge rises directly from the Tizi, passing the prominent finger of rock on the N side. Above, some easy but slightly exposed scrambling exits right before a small arete is crossed. Descending in winter, this offers a straightforward easy angled gully to descend NE. Beware of this arete in late spring, when warm conditions in Imlil may have dissuaded you from taking an axe, which you may regret.

Exiting off the arete, take a direct line up the 30° snow face and then veer right to a levelling off in slope angle. Take a note of this point if you have a GPS, as finding the top of the ridge if descending in cloud can be difficult – but essential for a safe line down.

Handrail the northern edge to the visible fore-summit before crossing the arete at the top of the central couloir (axe at the ready) and scramble to the small summit of Ras, with magnificent views (3hrs–3hrs 30mins).

The summit of the slightly higher Timesguida is 20mins away to the S. When returning, you can take a direct line to the top of the E ridge. In good visibility aim for the summit of Toubkal to guide you, or read your GPS reference in bad visibility. Do not be tempted to drop off this descending traverse too soon, as you will find yourself in steep terrain and on the wrong (S) side of the Tizi n-Ouagane watershed.

All 50 route and detailed practical information appear in the Cicerone published Mountaineering in the High Atlas. To buy a copy of this book for just GBP 15, follow this link.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Route of the Week (4) Lepiney to Toubkal refuge traverse via the Clochetons Breche

While this is a longer route than that via Tadat (Route 10), it gives fine views and an excellent vantage point of many route possibilities in the immediate area. The descent, however, can be subject to big avalanches after heavy snowfalls, particularly wet snowfalls late in the season. Do not attempt this route if there has been recent snow or avalanche history.

Traverse routes between the Tazaghart Lepiney and Mouflon Neltner Toubkal refuges
Map 1:50,000 Toubkal, Orientazion
Equipment In winter, ice-axe and crampons. Snowshoes can be useful in parts, depending on the snow conditions. Rope optional.
Time 5-6hours
940m, PD/PD+
Start Lepiney refuge (3000m)

From the Lepiney refuge, once above the waterfall, head S, keeping to the valley floor, passing the nevé permanent cone at the base of the Couloir de Neige on your right. The valley turns left and narrows, beyond which a 30m iced (in winter) section with some old in-situ protection needs to be climbed. (In descent, a rope can be useful.)

Once above this pitch, the Arhzane cwm opens up, with some great views of the Clochetons directly ahead, with the valley gradually veering right (S) to Tizi Melloul. Keeping to the valley floor initially before gaining height left, approach the base of the W face of Afella, before a diagonal left-traversing couloir takes you to the southernmost breche of the Clochetons (4hrs–4hrs 30mins).

From here a direct descent down the 30° slope of Irhzer Ikhelloun leads you directly to the Toubkal refuges more than 700m below.

All 50 route and detailed practical information appear in the Cicerone published Mountaineering in the High Atlas. To buy a copy of this book for just GBP 15, follow this link.

Friday, 18 March 2011

New snow

A fair bit of snow has fallen over the past number of days in the Moroccan High Atlas down to around 1800m on south facing slopes. This will rise as temperatures increase but the snowline will remain at or around 2350m.

Beware of possible big slides with this new snow unable to bond well with the base layer.

As usual, where the slope is in question, dig a snow profile first.

Travel safe.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Route of the Week (3) Jbel Tinergwet 3551m by the SW ridge

The most westerly 3000m high peak in the High Atlas range, it appears as an attractive pyramid peak from all perspectives. First seen to the south-east when travelling from Marrakech towards Agadir, it is particularly fine when its northern slopes are snow covered. From Taroudant, its subsidiary peak to the south-west and the main summit appear as a rocky twin-fanged peak, with Jbel Awlim (3482m) further to the right (north-east).

Out of winter season, it provides some fine lonely scrambling (apart from seeing a shepherd or two) and a satisfying mountain expedition. In winter, narrow ridges in some parts provide easy mountaineering, with some route finding and stunning views to the east and the Anti-Atlas on the southern horizon.

Two ridges are described below, and if taken together they provide a very enjoyable three-day circuit from Islane.

Map 1:50,000 series, Souq Sebt-Talmakant, Feuille NH-29-XVI-3c
Equipment Camping/bivvying for at least 1 night on the mountain, possibly up to 3 depending on route chosen. In winter, axe and crampons.
Time 2 days
990m, PD
Start Islane (1600)

Aim for the prominent cream-coloured band of rock, below the skyline ridge, visible from Islane. Leave the hamlet of Takoucht (1600m) by following the irrigation channel NNW past some houses on the right to the stream bed. Gain height by following this stream along a well-defined trail through walnut groves and past small waterfalls. Looking back, there are far-reaching views of the Souss plains below and the Anti-Atlas in the background. Reach the end of the walnut trees at 2075m, where the open forest (tagant) becomes visible up and ahead (1hr 30mins). Refill with water here.

Keeping to the right of a small outcrop, continue NNW to the beginning of the open forest, where a faint track trends left (NW then WNW), with zigzags upwards past small azibs heading for the western end of the cream band of rock.

Exit out of the forest, with first views of the summit of Tinergwet to the NE, and head WNW by following a natural line through the cream rock band before heading W into the broad Tizi Ifguig (2776m, N30 46.538 W008 53.757, 5hrs (alternative route), 4hrs (main route); also known locally as Tizi Taguergoust ‘between four’ – referring to one water source and a crossroads of four tracks). Camp. The water source is 100m away on the NW side of the pass.

From Tizi Ifguig, gain the high ground immediately to the NE (2974m). Keep NE on this ridge line passing any difficulties initially to the left (N) before gaining Tizi Moussa (2925m (local name – not marked on map), N30 47.920 W008 51.772),where the ridge line runs more W–E (3hrs).

This pass is the main escape and descent route to Islane, 3hrs due S and 1400m below. The pass also provides a suitable camp/bivvy site if a direct ascent from Islane is made instead of going via Tizi Ifguig. However, there is no water source, so snowmelt is required in winter.

From this pass, keep on the ridge line E before turning NE and passing any difficulties to the N. A shallow col gives way to the straightforward final summit ridge (3551m, N30 48.951 W008 49.781, 4–5hrs, 1hr 30mins from Tizi Moussa).

Unless continuing on to Mgount (W), return the same way to at least Tizi Moussa. The ground to the S may look attractive in places for a descent but this temptation should be resisted, as there is a lot of steep broken ground out of view.

All 50 route and detailed practical information appear in the Cicerone published Mountaineering in the High Atlas. To buy a copy of this book for just GBP 15, follow this link.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Current snow conditions

My friends and I will come to High Atlas for ski touring in two weeks. Can you give us some information about the current conditions? How much snow (centimeter) is there at the moment at Toubkal Hut? According to the weather forecast there should be some snow fall at the moment and the next days, is that right?
Thanks a lot for your answers.

Snow cover has been thin on the ground this season and especially for skiing - e.g the often favoured run from the Toubkal refuge down to Sidi Chamarouch has not been possible. As you say there is more snow forecast this week but this doesn't seem that it will do much more than cover some holes made by walkers!

Above the refuge there is certainly skiable terrain on N and NE facing slopes - but not as great as previous years.

NNW ridge of Akioud 4030m

I'm planning to climb in High Atlas by the end of April. I have got some winter experience from Scotland and I have finished basic winter mountaineering course recently. Do you think that soloing Akioud as described in your guide (PD+) will be ok?
I'd like to climb all the 4000-ers in the area but i know that Moroccan guides are not the climbers really. I'd be grateful if you could give me your opinion on that.


The ability to climb a PD+ grade in winter depends on your competence as a mountaineer and that is something that you alone know. Also the wisdom of solo climbing any route in this area (that does not have a search and rescue facility) apart from possibly the normal south cwm route of Toubkal needs to be questioned. This route on Akioud is not nearly as frequently climbed by other parties as e.g. Toubkal or Ouanoukrim and the risk of an injury and not being "discovered" until the next day (or more) is a real possibility.

Although the route is graded "only" PD+, there is a real risk of a slide on the NW face when descending and this has potentially serious consequences (this is referred to in the route description in the book).

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Route of the Week (2) Ighil Mgoun 4068m & Mgoun West 3978m

Ighil Mgoun is the only 4000m peak outside the Toubkal region, and is a much more remote and, in winter, serious proposition. The realities of self-rescue must always be borne in mind. Once on the ridge between Mgoun West and Mgoun itself, the only escape routes are to the south, which is the opposite direction from the refuge.

Ighil Mgoun 4068m ridge
Even in summer this area can create its own weather patterns, with electrical storms coming in most afternoons, so early starts from the refuge are recommended.

Map 1:100,000 Mgoun Massif, West Col
Equipment In winter, ice-axe and crampons; snowshoes are also very useful.
Time 2-3 days
1200+, F-
Start Tarkeddit refuge (2900m)

It is possible to continue on the ridge past Mgoun for many more kilometres, with terrain similar to the SW ridge. Realistically there is only one descent route to the N, 2km past the summit at Pt 3993m. The descent off this spur leads to the Oulilimt valley. Head W from here up to the Oumsoud pass and from there follow the trail back to the Azib Ikkis via the rocky SW spur of Igoudamen.

If you decide not to drop off at Pt 3993m, then a stupendous, technically easy ridge walk beckons. Allow for 2 nights bivvying in remote country before a return to the Bougammez valley via Tizi Ayt Imi (2905m).

All 50 route and detailed practical information appear in the Cicerone published Mountaineering in the High Atlas. To buy a copy of this book for just GBP 15, follow this link.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Route of the Week (1) Angour 3616m

A climber’s mountain with many routes on its south face, but these are rarely climbed due to historical access difficulties. This may well change now that there is a metalled road all the way from Imlil to Tacheddirt. The British climber Bentley Beetham was active here in the late 1920s after his Everest expeditions earlier that decade.

Angour 3616m in the Moroccan High Atlas mountains
Map 1:50,000 Toubkal, Orientazion
Equipment Non-winter route described. Rope, slings for those uncomfortable with exposure.
Time 8hrs (assuming no car)
990m, PD
Start Oukaimeden (2630m)

If you are self-driving, you will save considerable time and energy by driving up
the road past the ski lifts as far as is feasible depending on the snow line and other conditions. Traverse under N slopes of Angour eastwards to a stiff climb through scree to Tizi n-Itbir (3295m) ("1" in the photo above)

From the col, climb a broad gully on the right-hand side (W) of the buttress to a
gap where a ledge exits out left. Follow this ledge running across the north face with care, as there are steep slopes off to your left. The ledge exits out directly into the NE couloir. Climb this without technical difficulties over scree to the summit plateau. The summit ("2" in the photo above) is reached by a final climb tending right up a short straightforward rockwall.

Descend by the same route. Do not be tempted to descend the prominent gully that splits the two summit towers unless fully equipped.

All 50 route and detailed practical information appear in the Cicerone published Mountaineering in the High Atlas. To buy a copy of this book for just GBP 15, follow this link.

Excerpts from Mountaineering in the Moroccan High Atlas book

Now that Des's book is available both as a hard copy and electronically, we plan to give you snippets of what's inside the covers by taking excerpts from the book and publishing this on our blog.

The book features 50 routes right across the range - i.e. one a week for a year! So starting this week and finishing in Spring 2012, you will be able to select your favourite routes to attempt on your visit to the High Atlas.

Approximately a quarter of the book is taken up with what we think(!) is invaluable advice and background info to help you with all the pre-trip planning. A lot of this information is already on our blog in prior articles but to save you time trawling through the entire blog, it's best to buy the book!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Snow levels

Current snow level at 2500m on N/NW facing slope aspects and 2750 - 2950m on other slope aspects depending on the area.

Above 3000m snow cover is skiable but thin compared to other years.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Hi i´m a guy from spain and we are a pair of students who want to go treking the jebel toubkal the next week. We need the equipament to go climbing the crampons and the ice-axe, you know where can we find a place to rent it? and one more question, how long would it take to climb it now? from imil?
thank you for your attention and all the information you gave would be so helpfull

You can rent basic crampons and walking ice-axes in Imlil (Hotel Soleil or other shops) - or at the Toubkal refuges.

Usually around 5 hours trek from Imlil to the refuge and from there to the summit another 3-4 hours.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Car hire / Self-driving

We've hired a 4x4 self drive out of Marrakesh, dropoff in Agadir. Yes there is a lot of driving but we will have had 4 days trekking. Is there a difficulty about not having a "local driver"? and is there a security issue about camping "wild"? Your reply prompts these questions. What are snow conditions like at the mo. In 2006 we waded through thigh-high snow!

Self-driving in Morocco is fine. It's the most flexible choice and the one that will enable you to drive pretty much anywhere you want to in the country. However, driving in Morocco requires constant vigilence (as can be seen from the photo!) and distances will take far longer to drive than for similar distances on European motorways or autoroutes. Do not underestimate these factors in your overall planning.

Diesel costs are reasonable (at the time of writing just over 7 dirham / around 70 euro cents per litre) so this compensates for the long distances you may end up driving.

Make sure your are satisfied with the mechanical condition of the car before you leave, that there is both a spare tyre and the capabilities to change a wheel in the event of a puncture (!) and that any pre-existing bumps and scrapes are noted and agreed. Also make sure you have an emergency contact number to use in case the car does break down….

If driving at night, accept that you will encounter numerous unlight cyclists, donkey-drawn carts and a general attitude as regards personal safety that would been seen as "irresponsible" in Europe!

Lastly, the police are really keen on extracting fines for speeding - particularly in the 60kph zones - so beware! Getting fined is expensive and if you don't have the cash on you, your licence will be taken from you, entailing a visit to the police station the next day..... All this in French.

Camping wild is generally ok. Issues are proximity to villages / settlements. Children will come and stare at you for ages and again be vigligent for any light-fingeredness. Best to camp as far away from villages as possible and to use bottled water for drinking.

Lastly - snow conditions are light for this time of year - unless something happens you definitely won't be doing any wading!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Jebel Siroua

Looking south from high on Toubkal 4167m to the Jebel Siroua or SirwaWe are a group of five going to Marrakesh. Our plan is straightforward for first 4 days (two) 4000mts mnts out of Neltner. I have done Toubkal before. We are then doing a 6 day tour down to Erg Chigaga, a piste trip to Zguid, on up to Taliouine, Mazwad, Jebel Siroua and onto Agadir. I have been as far as Ouarzazate in 1968 but have no desert experience. A friend thought you might have some tips for us in general and specifically re Jebel Siroua (I have the Cicerone trekking guide). Thanks.

Good itinerary - and a lot of driving! Presume you have organised this with a tranport operator and have your own vehicle and local driver? Assuming so, do not be afraid of telling him to drive slowly (if that is an issue)! Also presume you have / are arranging to stay in established campsites in the desert managed by local operators?

It will be cold at night in the desert so do not leave any of your mountain gear in Marrakech thinking it will be warmer than the mountains. It will be during the day but once the sun goes down.....

Taliouine is the usual starting place for treks / trips into the Siroua (pronounced "sirwa"). This town and region lives off the saffron trade. There is a 5 day circuit of the range (described in the Cicerone trekking book which you mention) including an ascent of the highest peak at 3300m. This is an airy scramble to the top but affords great views of the Toubkal region to the north. Incidentally when you are climbing Toubkal, the first views you get of the Siroua to the south are from Tizi Toubkal, 3900m.

The Siroua have great waterfalls, palm trees and bizarre rocky architecture and once you get off the piste, you will enjoy this area.

Hope this helps somewhat and have a safe trip.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Snow conditions for skiing

how are the snow conditions right now, we are coming from italy aroun the 14th february for a ten days ski touring around toubkal. tnx

Snow conditions at the moment are thin and ice above 3000m - so not great for skiing - although NE facing slopes have the best cover.

At the moment the freeze level is down to 2000m or so.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Short ski-touring possibilities

May I ask you for a little advice:

We will rent our own car in Marrakesh and just want to get a short ski tour. Anything is fine, as we understand that the snow situation is poor. We are experienced mountaineers holding an Austrian Mountain Guide degree. Where would you recommend to go at the moment - Ilmil or Oukaimeden or somewhere else? We just want to do a day tour and a short ski run (and know how to behave in mountains....).

A short answer would be highly appreciated. Thank you very much and please let me know if you should ever need help in Europe.
Oukiameden is obviously easily accessible by car from Marrakech and being NE facing does hold the snow - however as you know the snow cover at the moment is thin and the summit of Ouki is not hugely high at 3273m - compared to the two Toubkal refuges which are at 3200m. Furthermore there are some lifts there and it isn't really a "touring" mountain.

You could however trek up to the Toubkal refuges and get some touring in on the big cwm SW of the 2 refuges which is also NE facing. This cwm is called Amrharas-n-Iglioua and is higher than Ouki as the top of the cwm is around 3900m
As you can see from the attached photo, the terrain is much more a "touring" area and you can find many route possibilities.

Hope this helps somewhat.

map of the 4000m peaks around the Neltner refuge

I spent couple of last weeks trying to find a map which I could use to climb in High Atlas without result. Could you please advice me where to get the map from? I already found old Russian military map (the best one yet as it\'s got not only contours but also cliffs and rocks), but is it possible to get anything more detailed? I bought the Spanish map but only contours again. I will be very grateful for the answer!
Hi - you've basically summarised all the options available to you in terms of mapping that are readily available - i.e. a Spanish 1:50,000 map with contours but no cliff markings and a Russian one with names in cryllic.
See our review of the Spanish map at:-

However it has to be said that you would need a 1:10,000 or 1:15,000 scale map to adequately show all the cliff markings for the area which is not available.

There is a Spanish topo guidebook for the area though detailing the climbing routes for all the peaks in the valley as well as our own one which is available from the 15th Feb.

Hope this helps.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Thanks a lot for your help....

On 11/01/2011 09:16, steve wrote:
hello people at nomadic morocco,

thanks a lot for your helpfull, ubiased information which was necessary for our trip.

there was 20cm snow on norhtern slopes, from 2500m on, for which we needed crampons.
the other slopes were practical snow free!


steve and katrijn

This referred to a trip in the Mgoun / Tarkeddit plateau area

Monday, 10 January 2011


But this is January! Nevertheless the southern western valleys of the Moroccan High Atlas mountains are green, white and pink! Green with young barley shoots and white & pink with the beautiful almond blossom.

Although we haven't been recently - this is a great time to visit Tafraoute in the Anti-Atlas with all the almond blossom.

Back to winter mountaineering.....!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Keep up the good work.....

Hi There.
I have used your site for valuable info now and in the past and wish to thank you for all your efforts.
I am on Toubkal for around a week (for 4th time.ha!) this winter. I'm expecting to set up camp above the refuge huts around the 11th January, and the helmet cam is coming with us so I'll post the info and where to find the vids of the conditions once I reach Imlil or Marrakech!
Its the least I can do for your blog!
Keep up the good work and all the best for the New Year!
Flying in today to Marrakech!
Thanks for the kind words S ! Your vids would be ace! Camping sounds a bit expeditionary but at least you'll be away from the noise in the refuges!
Good climbing...

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Snowline and depth update

hi Guys,

could you guys give an update of this question by Christmas?
Allready snow covering the mountains and passes for the moment?

we arrive in Morocco on 26 of december.

thanks a lot!

So the last few days has seen a fair amount of rain in the valleys of the Moroccan High Atlas which obviously translates into snow higher up! The question is - how high? To be honest it's hard to say right now as it's still raining and the mountains are totally cloud covered - at least from where we are! The freezing level today is down to 2400m today but this is set to rise up to 3800m over the weekend.

Our best guess until we can see the mountains is fresh snow on all slope aspects down to 2350m with this new snow falling onto an existing snowbase from 2750m.

With strong W-WNW winds today (which we can definitely vouch for!) at 22 m/s at 4000m, the main risk is some windslab on E and SE facing slopes above 3400m.

Wind speed conversions:-
for KPH - multiply the m/s figure by 3.6
for MPH - multiply the m/s figure by 2.25

Saturday, 11 December 2010

I don't have much experience of winter walking - can I climb Toubkal?

Ok - well that's not going to be a one-line answer! Here are some thoughts!:

# To state the obvious - this is a 4000m peak so you will feel the altitude if you go too quick. The only safeguard if you can call it that, is that the two Toubkal refuges are around 3200m so you can sleep there without feeling major affects of AMS. Safe absolute minimum times of ascent are 3 days out and back from Marrakech - 4 days better to allow for an acclimatisation peak to be climbed.
# The fitter you are obviously the better and the easier for yourself. If you are not used to 6-7 hour days in the mountains and you are trying to climb Toubkal in 3 days or even less round trip from Marrakech then you will suffer! Be kind to yourself and get some walking in before you embark on this!
# "Winter" is really end of November to mid April +/- 2 weeks both sides. This means that during this time you will either have to carry all your own equipment and food up to the refuge or engage porters as mules will only go as far as the snowline which in mid-winter is down at Sidi Chamharouch and sometimes lower.
# At the refuge you either have to cook your own food or pay someone up at the refuge to this for you (or you can arrange with a local guide in Imlil or professional mountaineering company like ours to sort this out for you in advance). The Mouflon Toubkal refuge can provide food / meals for you if you order in advance.

All of the comments below are based on ascents in Winter!
A. Climbing Toubkal in winter generally requires wearing crampons and using a walking ice-axe. However the ascent (by either the south or north cwm routes -see point 8 below) is not technical and so you do not necessarily need prior experience using an axe or crampons if you are going with a reputable / qualified mountain guide. (We would not recommend you climbing Toubkal in winter without a winter experienced guide if you do not have prior winter walking / climbing experience).
B. The normal un-acclimatised but reasonably mountain fit individual will take around 6 hours walking from Imlil (1750m) to the refuges (around 3200m). The return leg down will take around 4 hours. These times depend on the snowline and depth of untracked snow. I remember early January '08 when it was an epic to descend due to a huge volume of new snow - right down to Imlil in fact. Also if there is any ice en-route it can make for some delicate foot placements.
C. There is 1 frequented and 1 far less frequented route from the refuges. The standard frequented South Cwm route (prominent right-hand valley in photo) and the slightly longer, steeper & much less frequented North Cwm route (prominent left-hand valley in photo). Approx 90% or more ascents are made by South Cwm route. I have lost count of the number of days I have done the North Cwm route with no other parties present yet on arriving at the summit it could be like any popular Alpine summit in terms of numbers! Local "guides" contracted in Imlil rarely if ever take the North Cwm route as it is longer, steeper and more committing in winter (that said it is still "only" Alpine grade F+ / PD-). The same can be said of virtually all the other (UK) guiding companies as they generally contract Moroccan guides to lead the trip who prefer the ease and less committing nature of the South Cwm route.
D. In terms of times of ascent/descent (round trip out and back from the refuges) for the South Cwm, it is anywhere 6-8 hours depending on fitness, peoples abilities on snow and the quality / depth of (un)tracked snow.North Cwm route up and South Cwm route down (i.e. a traverse of the peak) is usually anywhere 7-9 hours.
E. Both routes have a steep start from the refuge - the North Cwm route steepest of all. The North Cwm route initially involves a traverse across 35 degree slopes and then straight up a steep slope before gaining the relative flatness of the actual cwm. Have your axe at the ready doing this traverse to arrest any slide - although the run-out is generally not serious it can feel like a long way down to the river bed!Both routes exit onto the relevant col (South Cwm - South Col; North Cwm - North Col) before the climber is required to ascend the relevant ridge to the summit.
The North Ridge is steeper and requires some delightful easy scrambling and a true feeling of an Alpine ridge. It is generally objective free of danger and other than coping with a strong side wind it is generally a safe line.
The South Ridge can be taken direct or avoided by traversing below (western side). Be aware however that this traverse takes the climber above a cliff band - to slide here would not be good! Again depending on the snow conditions, it is often airier but safer to stay on the ridgeline proper rather than do the traverse.
F. As with all winter conditions, you should have axe / crampons (and know how to use them! - but see point A above), winter boots, a rucsac with the usual safety bits and pieces (down jacket / spare food / water / anorak etc) and be mountain aware! Turn back if in doubt about things, your breathing, the weather etc......