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Friday, June 21, 2019

Day 1

Waking up in Imlil after the previous night’s arrival everybody was keen to get started and put on their boots to begin exploring the valley. I choose a nice warm up route that takes us onto the Tizi Tamatert pass (2500m) before heading to the summit of Tamalaroute which overlooks the trailhead village of Imlil. The warm up day is a good opportunity for everybody to get used to the terrain and figure out how much water and food to bring before we leave the shops behind and head into the mountains.

As we approached the summit of Tamalaroute the cumulous clouds were starting to thicken and with the humidity I figured an early descent would be best. By the time we reached the lower part of the valley a thunderstorm had kicked off and the afternoon downpour was in full flow. Evening meals followed and an early night before the true start of our expedition.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast and some drinks we started the long walk up from the village up to the Tizi Mzik pass (2800m). The guys made easy work of the ascent and before long we were enjoying freshly squeezed orange juice at the small shop at the top. The descent towards the refuge is really enjoyable and takes you through juniper and fir trees before arriving at the end of the valley. The last stop before the refuge is a small juice stall where Hussain eagerly awaits his next customers. We stopped for a quick drink but more for his benefit than necessity as we knew the money would be gratefully received. Arriving at the refuge we met Hassan the refuge custodian who after a short catch up showed us to our beds. Before long a thunderstorm was rumbling outside so we sat on the roof top watching the lightning and enjoying the drop in temperatures before food and an early night.

Day 3

We woke at 5am and forced down breakfast before heading out to begin our days walk. I normally wouldn't leave so early but crossing a 3600m pass during a thunderstorm can be dangerous so being on the descent before the clouds built was essential. We reached the pass in less than three hours and with only a few clouds in the sky I decided a quick blast up Agulezim 3650m and Buidoudam 3680m would help with our acclimatisation. We reached the refuge nice and early so relaxed in the sun until our dorm was ready. The hut custodian Hammid remembered me from previous years so we exchanged some pleasantries and discussed the forecast and the conditions over the next few days.

Day 4 - Ouanakrim (Timesquida & Ras)

We set out at 5am using head torches to light the route. Heading up towards the main shoulder at the end of the valley I managed to spot the distinctive two finger rocks and we picked up the scramble onto the ridge. The ridge was good fun and even though everybody was puffing from the thin air we all enjoyed the chance of something a bit more adventurous. Before long we found ourselves on the gentle approach to the summit of Timesquida (4089m) and Ras (4083m) which collectively make the summit Ouanakrim, the second highest mountain in Morocco. After tagging the summits I lead us back down the col where we enjoyed a bit of fun glissading down a snow slope to the bottom. We arrived at the refuge to coffee, tea and biscuits with a big lunch before heading to bed to recover.  Another big day tomorrow and the highest Jbel Toubkal awaits!

Day 5 - Jbel Toubkal

Another early 4am start and after our breakfast we hit the trail early getting on the steep track that winds its way through a series of rock steps and boulder fields. Once this is all negotiated you find yourself in the final valley before the main ridge that leads to the summit. The guys mad very fast progress up to the main ridge and to my surprise they managed that section in around 1:30 mins, a fast time by any standards. The last part of the ridge was ticked off with little fuss and before long we were on the summit high fiving and celebrating our success to the top. I’ve stood on top of Toubkal plenty of times now but the view and feeling you get when you reach the top is something else. It’s a very emotional moment when I get all my clients to the top safe and sound and see the look on peoples faces knowing they achieved something great today!

We descended back to the refuge where Lhassan was waiting patiently with his mule to take our bags to Imlil. After some coffee and biscuits to celebrate getting down safely we hit the trail and started the long descent back to Imlil. Having done this descent many times I know it can be a bit of a slog so I put my headphones in and listen to music or podcasts on my way down.

Arriving in Imlil we were greeted by Hamid who congratulated us on reaching the summit and returning safe and sound. We ate a nice lunch of Chicken skewers and chips washed down with some strong coffee, tea and water which soon picked everybody up for the short journey back to Marrakech.

Day 6

After a fantastic breakfast on the roof terrace of our Riad everybody decided to head into Marrakech. As it was the last day of Ramadan we found the city to be relatively quiet by Marrakech standards. In the evening we all headed back into Marrakech for a meal in the top restaurant in the Medina for a roof top meal to celebrate the expedition.

Day 7

Today was departure day and the end of our expedition.

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