23-01-17 Afella and other 4,000m peaks!


Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – January 30, 2016

I got back from a fantastic six-day trip with Alexander from Sweden. We had some fresh snow right before our trip and were greeted with frozen water pipes at the gite in Imlil that we stayed in the night before starting our trip… which made for an adventure from the get go! Our local staff told us that the recent snow had reached all the way down to Tahannaout (small town en route to Imlil) which is around the 1,000m mark. We had a very cold trip but were grateful for the warmth of the wood burning stoves in the common rooms of the Mouflons refuge.


The conditions were pretty challenging over the week with very cold temperatures and big drifts of wind slab. We had to turn back on one occasion due to upside down snow (hard slab overlaying soft snow).


23-01-17 South Col of Toubkal


24-01-17 Alexander working hard at our snowpit heading toward Akioud



Snowpack and Snow Cover

The cover remains fantastic but there continues to be serious avalanche risk especially on leeward and cross loaded slopes.  As mentioned, we found a number of more northerly slopes with upside down snow and also came across big drifts of wind slab. For the most part during our trip we couldn’t go anywhere near north to north-easterly aspects.


There was a serious warming over this last weekend with the freezing level going up to 3,600m. With the drop in temperature over the next couple of days, we should see the snowpack consolidated and become more stable…  there is more snow coming though. Watch the wind and how it deposits the new snow. Be diligent with checking the snowpack and its stability and where the wind is transporting it and also watch for heavy saturated snow later in the week as it is set to warm up again next weekend. Be on the look out for upside down snow as well as slab sitting on top of suncrust or another hard layer. Check to see how these are interacting and watch out for clean easy shears of slab on a weak layer or weak interface. We found in places a collapsing weak layer. Really watch for hollow sounding snowpack!


30-01-17 http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Toubkal/forecasts/4167


Climbing Conditions  

The ice around the refuge was good, but the approach slope to Chockstone Gully as well as Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left) were loaded towards the top.  The Afekhoi cascades are fat and ready for climbing as well as the ice heading south towards Tizi Ouagane. The big lines on Afella looked in good condition but the approach slopes were very dodgy last week, so take care when trying to climb bigger lines on Afella, Ras etc! All the major gully lines were very laden with drifts so avoid those for the time being.


27-01-17 Afekhoi cascades


26-01-17 Toubkal West


26-01-17 Afella


26-01-17 Alexander going for it on the ice heading toward Tizi Ouagane


Refuge Access

Porters are essential for getting supplies and extra gear up to the refuge as the track has snow on it. Mules can get as far as Sidi Cham (2,350m), but not all the way to the refuge. Do make sure to pay your porters and muleteers properly and keep to 80kg for a mule load and 20 to 25kg for a porter!


24-01-17 Akioud


Winter Conditions Summary

There is fantastic snow cover in the High Atlas and with the warming over the weekend and now a cold couple of days the snowpack should really start to stabilize. There is more snow predicted mid week as well as a warming over the weekend so do stay diligent assessing the snowpack, watching how the winds deposit the fresh snow. Be on the look out for weak layers and easy sliding on snowpack stability tests that look at shear quality. Also watch for hollow and collapsing under foot snowpack!  The ice climbing is very good, but really watch the approach slopes to get on to the climbs.


23-01-17 Me and Alexander on the cold summit of Toubkal -25 with the wind chill at least!


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, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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1 Comment

One Response to Toubkal Winter Conditions #4 Jan 2017

  1. ROJH says:
    22 April 2019 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    You can certainly see your enthusiasm within the article you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

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