Mount Toubkal Trek

Mount Toubkal at 4167m is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco. It is a non technical trek, suitable for everyone with decent levels of fitness. My only concern was the altitude. I have spoken to a few friends, who have done this trek before and got mixed opinions. Everyone agreed the ascent was not difficult, however some suffered from altitude badly, some felt a bit nauseous, some were not affected at all.

Here are are some logistics. We have organised the trek ourselves. Everyone/every group trekking Jebel Toubkal has to do it with a local guide. This is a fairly new law, in 2018 two tourists were killed near the village of Imlil. Morocco is a very safe place, however after the murders, more security around Atlas Mountains has been implemented. Hiring local guide is compulsory, you will not be able to do the trek unguided. You will also need your passport with you at all times. Our passports were checked 4 times along the trek by the guard.

Here are some tips for organising the trip (we travelled on the 13th – 16th of March) arriving to Marrakech on Friday, trek Saturaday- Sunday, back to London on Monday night.

I have contacted Hamid at the Toubkal Refuge approximately 4 months before the trip. Through Hamid we have booked 1 night at the Refuge (we have opted for half board – dinner upon arrival and breakfast before heading out to summit) , rented the crampons (which were absolutely essential, I recommend everyone gets them), transport from Marrakech to Imlil, Imlil – Marrakech and of course the Guide. The total cost of the above was 95 Euros per person (there were 8 of us altogether)

In Marrakech we have stayed in Riad Dar Ftouma in the Medina, very good location, friendly owner, plus we had the entire Riad to ourselves :). One, very important note – if you go to Marrakech take a lot of cash, ATM’s are very temperamental, they sometimes work, sometimes they don’t. It is not easy to get cash once you are there, and many places do not take card payments.

Our Toubkal adventure started on Saturday morning. A driver picked us up from our Riad and drove to Imlil, where we met our guide Mohammed. The first part of the trek is very easy, mostly light inclines.

We took a few stops when Mohammed was telling us about local fauna and flora, some history and anecdotes. The weather was perfect, approx 24C however it started getting chilly once we were getting higher.

Toubkal Goats crew with our guide Mohammed

By the time we were approaching the Refuge, it started snowing.

Toubkal Refuge as seen from the trail.

The nights at the Refuge can be quite loud, so if you are a light sleeper, taking some ear plugs is a must. Next day, we stared the ascent at 8.30am. There was quite a lot of snow, the crampons and walking poles proved to be life savers. Below are some photos from day 2.

 

 

I started feeling the altitude at about 4000m, it was then when it suddenly hit me. the closest I can describe it was feeling like I was drunk. We chewed some buckthorn berries along the way, which apparently are good in preventing altitude sickness. Needless to say, all of us made it to the top together, some more yellow in the face than others. The view was well worth it.

Jebel Toubkal Summit 4167m

Although as I have mentioned before, the trek is not technical and not overly difficult, it still requires respect. When you are in the mountains the conditions can change very quickly, as soon as the weather changes, it is very easy to get disoriented and lose the trail. People died there due to exposure to elements. Toubkal is a great starting point if you want to start climbing higher mountains. When we were there it wasn’t busy, which added to great experience.

Below is the list of the kit I took on the trek (for 2 days)

  • Leki walking poles
  • Ski Goggles
  • Sunglasses
  • 2 pairs of gloves (RAB liners and thicker ski gloves)
  • 2 long sleeved tops (Arc’teryx)
  • 2 t-shirts (North Face)
  • 2 pair of leggings (compression 2XU)
  • 1 Squamish light jacket (windbreaker Arc’teryx)
  • 1 Arc’teryx Alpha SV Jacket (wind proof and water proof, Goretex)
  • Arcteryx Psiphon SL Long Trousers
  • RAB gaitors
  • 2 pairs of thick trekking socks
  • Buff
  • Baseball hat plus warm hat for day 2
  • Hiking boots (LOWA)

I used Zero Electrolytes for hydration, Cliff bars to munch on the way to the top. 🙂