I decided that it would be a good idea to start my Mountain Climbing training in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and climb Mount Toubkal also called Jbel Toubkal – with its 4167 meters – the highest mountain of North Africa. I read a lot of information about the climb and was reassured by the fact that it did not seem to be a very technical nor difficult climb. So on 22nd of March at 8 am, a beautiful sunny day – I was ready to go. Together with a guide, a cook and a mule to carry the food and baggage, we started our hike from the Imlil Lodge located in Tamatert on the outskirts of Imlil.
Entering Toubkal National Park
The hiking trail went gradually up, we passed Imlil in the Valley on our right. After a bit more than an hour we reached the entrance of Toubkal National Park, a hiking paradise and the home of the famous Mount Toubkal. There is no issue getting drinks on the first part of this trekking as regularly you will pass a little wooden stall where you can buy drinks and snacks. The first stall we passed, we took a fresh orange juice and sat down for a couple of minutes to enjoy the magnificent views.
Passing Through Sidi Chamharouch
We continued our way through the beautiful Mizane Valley till we reached the pilgrimage Sidi Chamharouch build around a Muslim shrine. In this little hamlet, you can eat something, have another fresh orange juice or buy anything from cushions to Berber scarfs. From here the trail zigzags steeply uphill through the Isougouane Valley. We passed another drink stall but did not stop and continued our ascent. In the last drink stall before Base Camp our cook made us a delicious lunch, afterwards we took a little break enjoying again the stunning views.
Reaching Mount Toubkal Base Camp
After lunch the hiking seemed to go a lot easier and the trail didn’t seem so steep anymore. I’m not sure whether that was actually the case or whether I just had renewed energy because of the lunch and the little pause. We reached the Toubkal bunkhouse refuge – Base Camp at 3207m – after about an hour. The porters were carrying all the food and luggage for the last part of the trail till Base Camp as we had to leave the mules behind once we crossed the snow line. We spend the afternoon in the Toubkal refuge by sitting in front of the fire and playing cards. I was quite satisfied with myself to have made it this far. The refuge has about 5 rooms and on average there sleep about 25 people per room, further there are 2 toilets and 1 shower … luckily the water was reasonably hot after a while. Our cook made us a nice dinner in the refuge after which we went to sleep. It is quite difficult sleeping with so many people in one room … there was lots of noise and it was freezing cold.
The Ascent of Jbel Toubkal
Next morning we had an early breakfast and around 7 am we were ready to start the ascent of Mount Toubkal. Several little groups with their guide, all with crampons and some groups also with ice-axes, started slowly going up. It was freezing cold, there was lots of snow and the long ascent on the steep slopes seemed to take for ever … it crossed my mind a couple of times to turn around but I never did cause I was really motivated to reach the summit, so slowly and exhausted I continued to climb.
*Image of view from the top of the mt Toubkal via Shutterstock