Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – December 16, 2015

 

Over the last couple of weeks there has been little change in winter conditions for the High Atlas and Toubkal. There has been no new snow unfortunately!

 

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Toubkal – photo taken from the Tadat col 15-12-15

 

Marc and I have been out checking out routes and conditions underfoot since Saturday and just got back yesterday evening. We spent the majority of our time based at the Toubkal refuge but did head over the Tadat col to see what the crack was on the Tazaghart plateau / Lepiney refuge side. The approach and descent gullies where hard going on the scree that is usually covered in snow by now. The northern cwm on the Tadat traverse had a good amount of snow and a few sections of old windslab that should be treated with caution! We found similar bits of old windslab on our descent off Akioud. These less stable section are easily avoided and are very small and in isolated areas on more northerly aspects, but again should be avoided.

 

 

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Akioud 14-12-15

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

Snow cover again varies from 3500 to 3,800m depending on how exposed it is to the sun. And as noted in my last post the snow is well consolidated and firm underfoot which makes travel pretty quick. There are isolated patches of old windslab as mentioned should be avoided.  Even though the snow cover is limited, do bring an axe and crampons as they are essential for safe travel on the hard neve! The standard routes up Toubkal, Ras and Timesguida, Akioud all need crampons and ice axes.

 

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North cwn Tadat traverse

 

Climbing Conditions

There is some ice in condition, but the major lines ice/mixed lines on Toubkal West, Afella need more snow.  The Afekhoi cascades continue to have a few pitches of ice. Chockstone Gully as well as Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left) are in. On Sunday, we climbed the couloir up the center of Ras which makes a nice mountaineering day and on our way back to the refuge spotted some good ice near the Tizi Ouagane areas!

 

 

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Main couloir up Ras 13-12-15

 

 

Also, some of the major gully lines on the Tazaghart plateau looked to be in good condition while the descent gully was lacking snow. As you can see for the picture below, almost all the major approach slopes in this area are snow free which will make for hard going to reach the snow in the gully lines.

 

 

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Tazaghart Plateau area 15-12-15

 

Anyone who is wanting some good alpine rock ridges there is plenty in condition with the upper approach slopes to the routes on Ras and Akioud covered in neve.

 

 

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Mohammed (TMP cook and head muleteer) enjoying some easy access ice near the refuge!

 

Chockstone Gully as well as Curtain Call

Chockstone Gully as well as Curtain Call 13-12-15

 

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Ice near Tizi Ouagane 13-12-15

 

Refuge Access

Mules are able to get as far as the refuge which means no porters are needed currently. Do make sure that you hire muleteers that don’t overload their mules. You are looking to go no more than 80kg per mule!

 

 

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Marc at the l’Amguird Col

 

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Marc on the AD+ route on Akioud -14-12-15

 

Winter Conditions Summary

The snowpack is overall good solid neve and well consolidated! The snowline is pretty high at the moment, around the 3500 to 3800m mark and even higher on the southerly facing slopes. Crampons and ice axe are need for the major peaks. Due to the snow being hard and well consolidated the avalanche risk is low but do take care to avoid old patches of windslab and continue to monitor the weather forecast as a big dump of snow would change things! The mountaineering routes (ridges and major gullies that have snowcover) are in good condition and a few of the ice routes look to be in, but most of the ice and mixed climbing needs a lot more snow to get good.

 

 

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Weather forecast from www.mountain-forecast.com 16-12-15

 

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James: full-time instructor/guide 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.

 

 

Categories: Blog, Climbing Information, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountaineering, Winter
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