Toubkal and Back

Marrakech-sunset

Good value, good days and an excellent short trip destination.

Well the good news is there will be new ranges next year and catalogues and websites to show them off. We have all returned safely from our mini adventure in Morocco.

We climbed Toubkal on Sunday in near-perfect conditions and – unusually for such a popular summit – had the hill entirely to ourselves.

Chris, Phil and myself were accompanied by our good friend and Rohan weartester Alan Ward and by local guide Hossain, who provided not just guiding services (“keep going up”) but also mule driving and catering. (It was Eid so due to the amount of partying going on in the villages local support services in Morocco were in short supply…) We also adopted Ruth, a German pilot with a weekend pass, who had been effectively abandoned by his guide. I think he was in a hurry to get back to the party.

Late November for us was clearly a good time to travel in the mountains of Morocco. The days were still beautifully warm at lower altitudes, but the risk of wintry weather seemed to have kept a lot of people away., At night the temperature dropped like a stone, especially higher up.

The night before our summit ascent there was heavy rain at the Neltner hut, which meant a dusting of fresh snow further up. We enjoyed getting up in the dark to starry skies and seeing the rising sun hit the tops of the mountains above the early morning cloud. The main issue was ice, which led a couple of us to don crampons for short sections. The summit was crystal clear and deserted, scoured by a freezing wind.

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I’d forgotten just how easy it is to get to Morocco – only 3 hours flight time for us courtesy of Easyjet and no timezone issues – and just how different it is when you get there.

If you’re looking for a short haul, no-stress trip to somewhere with a completely different culture and fantastic landscapes Morocco remains an excellent bet.

The old phrase about Morocco being “Poor Man’s Nepal” kept echoing in my mind as we trekked in the Toubkal region. The Berber villages are a little reminiscent of Nepalese settlements; the landscapes – especially when you are traversing on rocky paths above river valleys – familiar to anyone who’s travelled in the Himalayas.

Good value, good days and an excellent short trip destination.

Right, back to work, then.

Tim Jasper, Brand Director

Gift Your Gear BANSept16

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