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The Expedition to Toubkal

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Toubkal is a mountain peak in southwestern Morocco. At 4.167 metres, it is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains and in North Africa. It is located 63 km south of the city of Marrakech, in the Toubkal National Park. The first ascent by Europeans was on 12 June 1923 by the Marquis de Segonzac.
Trekkers usually approach the mountain from the road-end village of Imlil. Qualified local guides can be hired, as well as mules and porters, to carry equipment and food supplies higher into the mountains. For experienced mountaineers guides are not required for the normal route, as it is an easy hike and orientation is not a problem. Usage of the mules is questionable, as they are often being overloaded and mistreated.

From Fez (410 m) to Aroumd through Marrakech, Asni and Imlil (1740 m)

We drove from Fez to Marrakech, from 4h30 AM to 10:30 AM, we went to Marjane supermarket and bought food from there, you can also buy food from imlil (starting point to the trek) Usefully they also sell water / chocolate / maps / bread etc. and we had lunch in a litte nice restaurant close to jamaa el fna where we took pictures with snake charmers.
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We left Marrakech at about 13:30 pm for a 2 hours drive to Aroumd through Asni and Imlil. This is a real white knuckle ride as everyone drives extremely fast and love to overtake, whether on a blind bend, hump or otherwise.

Me, Matthew, David and Brian arrived at the auberge, tired and overwhelmed after our lovely tour in Marrakech and what seemed to have been a long day travelling. 

We spent a night in Aroumd in an auberge called "Atlas Toubkal" owned by 'Id Mansour Omar le Rouge' (he has two houses, choose the one inside the village) which have a nice view on Aroumd village, these guys can also arrange for mules to carry your rucksacks and other equipment up to the Toubkal refuge. We hired a guide and a mule to take all our food, water and backpacks (100 dh a day) for 2 days.

AREMD to Sidi Chamarouch (2,310 m)

The next morning we left AREMD at about 8h 45 AM, The views from Aroumd gave us our first glimpse of Jebel Toubkal, taking the track leading away on the left towards a river and into the main valley. 
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You'll have to find a suitable place to cross the river, there are some stepping stones but depending on the time of year will determine how useful they are. If you don't hire a guide with a mule its useful to follow any locals or mules being lead along this track.
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After crossing the river follow the left bank until you see a path leading up the left side of the valley. Continue on this well worn path for about two hours until you see a large white painted boulder. This is the temple of Sidi Chamarouch (king of Jins). Cross the river again onto the right hand bank and climb the slope towards the stalls and huts. There is limited accomodation available here although expensive for what you get. The stalls sell tea, water, chocolate, slippers and crystals. If you're planning on a break then I'll take it just past Sidi Chamarouch.

Don't plan to buy anything here as it's very expensive compared to previously at Imlil or Aroumd. 

Sidi Chamarouch to Toubkal refuge 3207m

Follow the track now on the right hand side of the valley away from Sidi Chamarouch. The path now becomes quieter as only hikers and climbers go on from the temple.
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The path continued to be well worn and obvious and about two hours later we reached the Toubkal refuge.

The trek from Aroumd to the Toubkal Refuge camp (3,150 m) took around 4-5 hours, taking a few breaks at Sidi Chamarouch (2,310 m) and the lonesome shop at 2,700m. we arrived to the refuge at 1:30 PM.

On arriving at the refuge we changed our shoes into the flip flops provided and were shown to the bunk room. This room had bunks for about 30 persons. The hut overall was in good condition. The heaters were but were in action.
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You can have dinner here at about 7 PM for 50 dh per person, the guardian can serve either Tagine (stew) or Spaghetti Bolognaise (vegetarian). Only tea and soda are available to drink here.

During the evening meal it was good to share plans with other climbers and discuss experiences - that you climb with in the morning (safety in numbers) - We met Regina, a nice girl from Hawaii who gave us some useful tips on climbimg toubkal. 

We turned in about 8pm, mainly to get warm and because of the early start the following morning. The room was a bit warmer as more people turned in. Due probably to the altitude and the snoring the sleep was fitful and it was good to get going in the morning.

Toubkal Refuge 3207m to Jbel Toubkal 4167m

We awoke about 5h30 AM the following morning and made it downstairs for our own breakfast. you can also have breakfast here for 25 dh per person, this consisted of bread and jam and the sweet tea again. Although some coffee was available.
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We set off towards the summit at 6h30 AM, from the hut you drop back down to the river and cross it again at an easy point. From there it is basically a slog up relatively steep slopes, past boulders and rocks and into a wide pass.
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We climbed a shallower slope heading left towards the top and towards a large rocky outcrop ( mistaken by us for the summit ). This outcrop was at 4115mtrs an some 50 mtrs vertically from the summit.
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The climb was good but take your time and stop to rest to get oxygen and water to avoid altitude sickness and also to enjoy the mountains as we did.
Image Image
Image we summitted at 10:45 AM. This was certainly a special moment for a well-deserving team. After half hour on the summit in glorious sunshine and still ‘blown away' by our achievements, we made the descent back taking pictures and enjoying the nature in 2 and half hour to the refuge.
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We traced our route back to the refuge, were we payed our bill and collected the backpacks we had left there and had lunch and rested for an almost 2 hours.
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4 PM: The walk back was basically a long downhill slog retracing our steps. we made a speedy 3 hours descent back to our auberge in Aroumd where a wonderful tajine was waiting for us for dinner.

Image The next morning we had our final breakfast meal together and we drove back to Fez at 9:30 PM.

Image This was a very successful journey in which we experienced things we had never experienced before and might never again - "the world is out there, go find it!" Image Image Image Image

Last Updated ( Friday, 15 August 2008 )
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