Toubkal Winter Conditions #5 March 2017

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

I was back out to Morocco and up in the High Atlas this week! The conditions were fantastic with hard neve everywhere:-)

 

Looking across from the South Col route up Toubkal at: Afella, Biguinoussene and the Tadat Col

 

Me not far from Tizi Ouagane 3,730m

 

Snow Cover & Snowpack

Snow cover is generally very good once you get to around the 3,000m mark and even lower on North facing aspects! And as mentioned the snowpack was good neve. There is a big dump of snow in the forecast for this weekend which will raise the avalanche risk if it materializes! It would be wise to let the snowpack settle a bit also watch out for big drifts and windslab deposits. The winds are set to change quite a bit over the following days which will mean really watching where it deposits the new snow and avoiding it. Also, with the hard neve and suncrust layers will potentially provide a sliding surface for the fresh snow, so be diligent in watching the wind and assessing the snowpack.

 

 

www.mountain-forecast.com from 16-3-17

 

 

Approach slope that leads to the South Col

 

Climbing Conditions  

The ice and mixed lines looked to be in good conditions on Toubkal West, Ras, and Afella.  A lot of the single pitch ice around the refuge and heading toward Tizi Ouagane looked to be pretty rotten. Chockstone route is in good condition and the Afekhoi cascades look good and should stay in.

 

 

Afella

 

Not such good ice near Tizi Ouagane

 

Ras

 

The mountaineering conditions are brilliant at the moment, but this will change with the new snow. Time will be needed for the new snow to consolidate and bond with the old snowpack.

 

Refuge Access

The snow line on the path to the refuge was well above Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m), but will come down close to Sidi Cham over the weekend. These means mules will only get a bit above the Sidi Cham and porters will be needed to carry kit and supplies the rest of the way.  

 

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Stable weather over the last three weeks has firm up the snowpack providing brilliant neve, but a lot of fresh snow is coming in over the weekend which will raise the avalanche risk.

 

The fresh snow will overlay a hard suncrust and neve snowpack which will mean an easy sliding surface for fresh snow. Watch the winds next over the weekend and week and avoid windslab & big drift deposits. The mountaineering will continue to stay very good, but caution and good route finding is necessary over the next week or so while the new snowpack consolidates and bonds to the old snowpack. The bigger mixed lines on Toubkal West, Ras, and Afella are in condition!

 

James, Full-time guide/instructor for TMP

For a personalised trekking, guiding or instruction service and/or logistics for Toubkal and the High Atlas, get in touch with us here at The Mountain People!

 

Disclaimer: as a mountaineering instructor I have had avalanche risk assessment training and have a good level of experience but am by no means a professional avalanche forecaster. These reports aim to give you a general idea of the winter conditions for a few days ahead and the risks involved but please be diligent in checking weather forecasts yourself and monitoring the conditions when you are out in the High Atlas.

 

 

 

South Col of Toubkal

 

 

Categories: Blog, Climbing Information, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Winter
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Scotland winter mountaineering trip 2017: Day 3, Coire nan Lochan

Scotland winter mountaineering trip 2017: Day 3, Stob Coire nan Lochan - The Mountain People
 
Decent conditions in Broad Gully, Stob Coire nan Lochan
 

Scotland winter mountaineering trip 2017: Day 3, Stob Coire nan Lochan

 
This is part of our annual Scotland winter mountaineering trip, and you can find the previous days here:
 
Day 1, Aonach Mor
Day 2, Ben Nevis
 
A good day out indeed today, especially as we pass the halfway point and the big day out take their toll on the feet and legs.
 
The winter skills and summits and ridges teams both walked into Coire nan Lochan in Glencoe, up Broad Gully, took in Stob Coire nan Lochan and then split ways.
 
The cool overnight conditions had firmed up the snow pack and put down some snow, which made things feel more wintery.
 
There were snow showers for the first part of the day, but these passed through to leave wonderfully clear views and bursts of sunshine and lifted people’s spirits.
 
Things are still very lean, especially in Glencoe, but the old snow provided good travel and options for looking at different mountain skills.
 
The climbing team made a return trip to Ben Nevis, and took on No. 3 Gully Buttress on Ben Nevis – a snowed up rock route, given the lack of in condition routes.
 
Friday still looks to be the best day of this week, so the challenge now is to sake people’s legs and save the best route or journey until last!
 

Check out our ‘Getting ready for Scotland winter mountaineering series’:

 
Training and fitness for Scotland winter mountaineering
Choosing kit & gear for Scotland winter mountaineering
Winter Climbing Part I – Getting started
Winter Climbing Part II – Training
Managing yourself on the hill for Scotland winter mountaineering
The Headgame: Scotland winter mountaineering
 

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Scotland winter mountaineering trip 2017: Day 2, Ben Nevis

Scotland winter mountaineering trip 2017: Day 2, Ben Nevis - The Mountain People
 
Enjoying No. 3 Gully on Ben Nevis!
 

Scotland winter mountaineering trip 2017: Day 2, Ben Nevis

 
This is part of our annual Scotland winter mountaineering trip, and you can find the previous days here:
 
Day 1, Aonach Mor
 
Today it was mountaineering by numbers on Ben Nevis, making use of the big Grade I gullies.
 
The winter skills team built on their Aonach Mor session by ascending No. 3 Gully and descending No. 4 Gully.
 
The big Grade I gullies are No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5. No. 1 gully was renamed Tower Gully and No. 2 Gully is Grade II.
 
There were a smattering of climbers coming down the gullies who had made the most of the cooler overnight temperatures to climb routes like No. 3 Gully Buttress and similar with an early start.
 
The day started fairly clear and cool after colder temperatures overnight, which had firmed up the higher snow patches and put down some cosmetic dusting.
 
All the three teams made the long walk into Coire na Ciste via the CIC Hut in the heart of the North face of Ben Nevis. The independent climbers headed onto the Aonach Eagach.
 
Coire na Ciste was a good choice for the teams who wanted to consolidate winter skills, and the summits and ridges team went round the corner to Tower Gully above Observatory Gully.
 
James went over some skills with Andrew and Caleb before escaping the worst of the wet afternoon weather.
 
By home time, the rain had properly set in, so everyone got a good old fashioned soaking, but spirits were high thanks to a productive time on the hill.
 
The forecast for the next few days is much colder, but stormy, which has its challenges, but will be a welcome change from the wetness and moisture.
 
Friday looks to be the best day of this week, with temperatures staying low, as well as the wind; the challenge will be to find the snow and ice that has survived!
 

Check out our ‘Getting ready for Scotland winter mountaineering series’:

 
Training and fitness for Scotland winter mountaineering
Choosing kit & gear for Scotland winter mountaineering
Winter Climbing Part I – Getting started
Winter Climbing Part II – Training
Managing yourself on the hill for Scotland winter mountaineering
The Headgame: Scotland winter mountaineering
 

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Scotland mountaineering trip 2017: Day 1, Aonach Mor

Scotland mountaineering trip 2017: Day 1, Aonach Mor - The Mountain People
 
Just enough snow and ambiance to convince us that it was still winter!
 

Scotland mountaineering trip 2017: Day 1, Aonach Mor

 
Every team faced a difficult forecast today, but made the most of the venues and conditions.
 
Given the warm, wet and windy day, plus the lack of frozen snow, Aonach Mor was the choice for all three streams.
 
After the inevitable stop at NevisSport and resisting the shiny gear and kit, the Nevis Range gondola took us up to 655m and laid the platform for a good introductory day.
 
Out today we had three streams: winter skills, summits and ridges and winter climbing, plus a group who are with us, but climbing independently.
 
The winter skills team dropped off the broad re-entrant of Coire an t’Sneachda onto the East Face of Aonach Mor. Nick ran through the obligatory movement skills, ice axe arrests and introductory syllabus. This was a great venue with enough snow and well sheltered from the westerlies.
 
The summits and ridges team moved steadily up through the ski area and upper reaches of Coire an t-Sneacdha (not to be confused with the well-trodden namesake in the Northern Corries of the Cairngorms).
 
It then took in the munro summit of Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag and then dropped into the bealach above Coire Daim before traversing under the Back Corries of the West Face of Aonach Mor.
 
The climbing teams both dropped into Easy Gully from the plateau and made the best fist of the poor conditions they could. However, the independents then climbed back up and found a worthwhile climb on the East Face, with reasonably solid ice for ascent.
 
Overall, every team achieved their objectives, which goes to show that the environment, vistas and mountain journey deliver for individuals, and there are plenty of teaching points for instructors.
 
The first evening and day are always the busiest and chaotic of a Scotland trip, but everyone has enjoyed unhurried times together after dinner and things are looking up later in the week!
 
We won’t mention who managed to miss the last gondola down the mountain at the end of the day…
 

Check out our ‘Getting ready for Scotland winter mountaineering series’

 
Training and fitness for Scotland winter mountaineering
Choosing kit & gear for Scotland winter mountaineering
Winter Climbing Part I – Getting started
Winter Climbing Part II – Training
Managing yourself on the hill for Scotland winter mountaineering
The Headgame: Scotland winter mountaineering
 

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Toubkal Winter Conditions – Quick Update!

Toubkal Winter Conditions – Quick Update

Weather has been pretty consistent over the previous weeks with snowpack consolidating well, but a big dump of snow in the forecast! Take care of heightened avalanche risk if this snow materializes!

 

 

Categories: Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Winter
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