Jebel Toubkal

Trip Start Sep 13, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Morocco  ,
Sunday, October 8, 2006

Having decided to climb up Jebel Toubkal I found out that I had already missed the bus and instead squeezed into an old Mercedes taxi with another 7 guys to Imlil the traditional starting point for the trek.
But by the time I actually got to the beginning of the track I was told that it was too late in the day to begin the walk as the first leg would take me a good 5-6 hours depending on how fit you are.

I quickly resigned to the fact that I would have to start the next day and a friendly guy suggested I stay at his place for 3 euros the night. This seemed an excellent idea and I lugged all my stuff up to another village called Aroumd. There I found a comfortable room with mattresses all around the walls. I was immediately given a pot of mint tea which seemed to magically refill itself every so often. The village was entirely made out of stone and in front down the valley they were all in the process of harvesting apples.

The next day after a good nights' sleep I left around 8.30 in the morning and started the 5 hour slug up the hill with my backpack a lot lighter having left a lot of my gear in the village. It actually started out nice and easy but it just seemed to go relentlessly uphill and so found myself having to sit down and catch my breath on quite a few occasions. I think I realized how unfit I've managed to become, having sat behind a computer desk for the past 10 months. Still early in the afternoon I came across the refuge (3100m alt) where I was to stay the night.

Most of the afternoon in the refuge was spent meeting people and strangely I met Jay from Auckland (Living in London) who had decided to climb the mountain on the same day, so we agreed to make the final attempt for the summit together leaving 5.30 the next morning. Later that night, we got served a soup and a lamb couscous which was followed by mint tea.

Bright and early the next morning, we managed to steal hot water and have a cup of tea with out paying for it! Quickly we were out the door and we spent the next 2.3 hours climbing the final 1067 meters to the summit. We came across a lot of wind towards the top and I some times had a bit of trouble staying on my feet. It was also so cold that your fingers froze up. Still we made it and having not climbed many mountains it certainly was a good feeling standing on the top looking down as the lands swept away from all directions. Felt I should have brought a New Zealand flag to wave about, but alas it was not to be.

Jay ran off to try and meet up with his friends down below and I slowly walked on back down with a French couple with whom having attained the refuge, we sat about and drank more mint tea. An hour later I was heading back to Aroumd where I was to stay the final night up here in the High Atlas Mountains.

This walk was quite challenging but the effort was well rewarded by magnificent views and the great satisfaction of having attained the summit. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys trekking and taking up a challenge. From here I've decide rather then go east and see the Sahara desert, I'll head west towards to quite little fishing port town of Essaouira to recover from all this physical activity. Later traveling through Mauritania I'll see enough desert for a lifetime so I don't feel like I'm missing too much.
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