> Climbing atop Mt Toubkal in Morocco during early March <

 

Snow in the Sahara? Almost true...

The High Atlas is North Africa’s greatest mountain range and it contains some of the most intriguing and beautiful regions of Morocco and of Africa at such. The landscape of the Atlas Mountains varies from season to season: winter drops meters of snow that leads to gushing river valleys in spring. Summer brings an unforgiving sun, while the autumnal sunlight brings the browns and reds of the peaks to life.

In our view, the highlight of the Atlas is Toubkal National Park, home to the impressive Jebel Toubkal (4.167m), the highest peak in North Africa, as well as numerous mud-thatched Berber villages that appear locked in time. In its valleys are many remote pinnacles and passes (Tizis in Berber; cols in French) ready to be explored, together with several worthy crests and hamlets that can be reached on trekking routes along mule paths. The travel from north into the mountain system was spectacular. We saw clearly how the Atlas range is a physical barrier between the green plains and olive landscapes in north and the rocky gorges, vast sand dune seas and the Sahara in south.

We spent one week during wintertime to summit Mount Toubkal with perfect weather on the summit day, while subsequently doing the summit circuit via Ourika Valley only to experience a rendezvous with a snowstorm in approximately 3.200m height. One of the benefits of trekking in this region during winter is to experience snow along the trek, to reach the summit with crampons and relevant gear, and to meet very few travelers. The mountain can be quite busy in other seasons.

Besides trekking, we traveled quite a lot in North Africa. For more climbs on the African continent, check our climbs of Mount Kenya, the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda, and the Nyiragongo in the DR Congo.

 

 

Selected pics:

 

THE HIGH ATLAS

A winter climb of 4.167m Mount Toubkal on the roof of North Africa

Location of High Atlas Mts
Location of High Atlas Mts
Marrakesh breakfast
Marrakesh breakfast

Arrival in Marrakesh. We had breakfast in Djama-el-Fna and discussed the planning of transport into the mountains.

Shopping for supplies
Shopping for supplies

One of the largest souqs of the Arabian world can be found in Marrakesh. Still, it is hard to find the right things. We had a hard time finding ethanol / methylated spirit for our stove.

View towards the Atlas mountains
View towards the Atlas mountains
Arrival by shared taxi in Imlil
Arrival by shared taxi in Imlil

Imlil is a small typical Berber village situated in a stunning location, fairy-tale like especially in winter. For Toubkal, this is the stopping off point for 90% of walkers or trekkers looking to climb the highest mountain in N. Africa.

Local Berber girl in front of lodge
Local Berber girl in front of lodge
Planning the trek in Imlil
Planning the trek in Imlil
Leg 1: Imlil to Sidi Chamharouch
Leg 1: Imlil to Sidi Chamharouch
View towards Aremd village on trek
View towards Aremd village on trek
Gaining height on leg 1
Gaining height on leg 1
Sidi Chamharouch in the morning
Sidi Chamharouch in the morning

We slept in tents during the night and it was extremely cold, probably minus 10-20 *C.

Leg 2: Sidi Cham. to Neltner Refuge
Leg 2: Sidi Cham. to Neltner Refuge
Snow in winter
Snow in winter

We had one guide to helps os along the trek. As around for winter guides in Imlil. There are about 16 guides that have completed a winter training and assessment course in France.

Neltner Refuge
Neltner Refuge
Up Mt Tobkal on the south col
Up Mt Tobkal on the south col

Most people head up the south col as it is the most straightforward way up the mountain. However, there are a lot of other ways up the peak.

Up the south col
Up the south col
Hans and Jakob on south col
Hans and Jakob on south col
Hans on saddle below Tizi-n-Toubkal
Hans on saddle below Tizi-n-Toubkal
Jakob near the summit
Jakob near the summit
Anders on summit
Anders on summit

Standing on the peak in the middle of winter with beautiful snowy summits around you - it's hard to believe you're in Africa. It is a remarkable part of the world to be in.

Leg 3: From Refuge to Tissadal
Leg 3: From Refuge to Tissadal
Leg 4: From Tissadal to Tifni
Leg 4: From Tissadal to Tifni
Leg 5: Towards Tachedirt
Leg 5: Towards Tachedirt

Anders is putting on his crampoons

Sudden snow blizzard
Sudden snow blizzard
Tachedirt village in Ourika Valley
Tachedirt village in Ourika Valley
Camping in Ounanskera Pass
Camping in Ounanskera Pass
Breakfast in Ounanskera Pass
Breakfast in Ounanskera Pass
Leg 7: Towards Imlil
Leg 7: Towards Imlil
Imlil valley
Imlil valley
Back in Imlil
Back in Imlil