Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

Yesterday I headed up to the to the refuge and then carried on for 300m on the South Col route of Toubkal. I found generally speaking very good snow cover and conditions underfoot good with the route itself having compacted snow which requires an ice axe and crampons especially on the steeper sections of the route.

 

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At the far back the final ridge from South Col on Toubkal – South Col route (3,500m) 13-11-14

 

Recent Weather

Since the last report snow has fallen down to 2,000m metres and still remains around the 2,500m mark on north facing aspects. After this drop of snow the conditions have been stable with colder weather earlier in the week and over the last few days freeze/thaw conditions prevailing between 3,500m to 3,200m.

 

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Refuge and start of the South Col Route up Toubkal 13-11-14

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

I found very stable snowpack at the 4 or 5 snow pits I dug between the refuge and 3,500m mark. And I also found good bonding between layers when doing a hand sheer test (having to pull pretty hard to get a sheer). I did find at one of the snow pits a small layer of graupel, which produced an easier sheer but overall as mentioned I found good bonding between layers.

 

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Graupel up close from the hasty pit 13-11-14

 

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Hasty pit with graupel on the South Col route up Toubkal 13-11-14

 

Please note that ice axe and crampons are needed with the current snow conditions on Toubkal and the other peaks in the Toubkal Massif. If you are looking for instruction and coaching in the use of these essential tools for winter please see our Morocco Winter Skills course and contact us for available dates!

 

Climbing Conditions

The classic mountaineering routes are still in great conditions due to the snowpack being firm overall. On north facing aspects you will find bigger accumulations of softer snow but sun exposed snow slopes are generally firm and therefore underfoot conditions are good.

 

I saw the start of some of the ice forming on some routes around the refuge but we still need more snow for these to come into good condition. The Chalk Stone route above the refuge might have enough ice, but it would be worth waiting for more snow and a bit more time for things to properly form. Keep your eye on this blog for updates on winter route conditions!

 

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Chock Stone route Afella – might just go! 13-11-14

 

 

So to summarise the climbing conditions: the classic gullies and rock ridge lines are in condition and the ice routes are starting to form but still need more snow and time.

 

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Afekhoi (NW Cwm) icefalls en route to the Toubkal refuge – need more snow and colder conditions for these to get into good condition. 13-11-14

 

For a Logistics Only Package please get in touch with us! Let us sort all the non-climbing and mountaineering aspects to your trip, so that you can focus on enjoying the culture, food, and peaks and routes of the High Atlas.

 

Refuge Access

There is still good access to the Toubkal refuges with the path being clear of snow. Mules are able to pack in equipment and supplies just about all the way to the refuges, so no porters are currently needed.

 

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Mules taking a break at the refuge (3,200m) 13-11-14

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Toubkal and the Central High Atlas mountains are currently in great winter condition for general winter trekking and mountaineering with a good cover of firm snow. Mixed and ice routes are starting to come into condition but more time and snow are needed for good climbing conditions. With the freeze/thaw around the 3,500m mark and then colder conditions the snowpack should continue to stay stable. A bit more snow (a couple of cm) is forecast for the weekend, which will help to top things up and not change the overall snowpack stability and cover.

 

For trekking, guiding, instruction and/or logistics for Toubkal and the High Atlas don’t hesitate to contact us!

 

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Afella 4,040m, Clochetons 3,940m, Biguinoussene 4,007m 13-11-14

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