This week’s feature comes from @outofdoor_core who recently took a trip to Morocco with his friends to explore the beauty of the Atlas Mountains. During their time there, they took part in the Toubkal Circuit. However, it wasn’t the smoothest ride as @outofdoor_core explains himself. Here’s what he had to say..
Back at the beginning of May, myself and a few fellow comrades flew to Morocco to hike the Toubkal Circuit, which would take around 5 days, self sufficient, carrying full kit whilst wild camping. After which we would ascend Mt Toubkal. Standing at 4,167m, Toubkal is the highest mountain in North Africa & the Arab world and is nestled inside the High Atlas range.
Landing in Marrakech and cracking the plane doors open, you’re greeted with the obligatory holiday heat punch that at the same time excites and saps you. It was pushing on 35 degrees, which coming directly from a more than mild British Spring, is always a shock to the system. Day 1 consisted of a long taxi journey into the Atlas foothills, arrival at a Berber family lodge, meeting our guide for the next week, lots of eating, resting and eagerness to crack on with the expedition.
Over the course of the next few days we summited smaller peaks, up down, up down, trying to acclimatise our bodies to the altitude so when it came to Toubkal, we’d be better prepared. The days consisted of arduous climbs to 3000m plus, with day 2 throwing up a route with 99 switchbacks! They were all worth it though as once on top, we could enjoy some well earned lunch (with a view), supplemented with Moroccan tea. Even as a Brit, I don’t think i’ve ever drank as much tea as on this trip. Once descending, we’d find camp, set up and enjoy each others company, the silence and the fact that nobody had any phone signal. Dusk would sneak up as the sun would sink low beneath the mountains ahead. Then came the stars, then came the slumber.
A few lakes, glaciers, sketchy climbs and tea’s later, we were at Mt Toubkal base camp, 3200m. The base camp was a cauldron of people from all over, descending onto the mountain to take up the challenge. As we wanted to start summiting with the sunrise, it meant waking up at 3am to get going, which in turn meant going to bed at 8pm, whilst it was still light, never an easy feat, made even harder by the fact I’d come over all feverish with what was later found out to be a mild case of food poisoning. It certainly worried me as I tossed and turned through the evening, hit with cold sweats and a foggy mind. Would I feel better once I started climbing? Would I be able to summit?
3am alarm sounded, not that it had to wake me up. Right, just going to have to white knuckle this and hope I feel better once we get going. An hour in, the way illuminated by our head torches, we came across steep, icy horizontal inclines with precipices the width of which was no more than your own foot. If there was ever a cure for feeling like crap this was it, all focus on your steps, nothing else. One bad placement to the left and you had no hope of regaining grip on the rock hard ice sheet, off into the black abyss you’d go.
Luckily there was no such slips. Around 3 hours after leaving base camp, with a pretty fuzzy head, we were there, SUMMIT! Cloud inversions scattered the range beneath us, glinting in golden hour sunlight, off to the South you could see the beginning of the Sahara. We sat down to catch our breath and bask in the moment.