Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – February 24, 2016

 

High Atlas looking much better with all the snow that has come recently! 24-2-16

High Atlas looking much better with all the snow that has come recently! 24-2-16

It has been sometime since my last proper conditions update! I headed up to the refuge today to check out all the snow that has been dropped over the last 2 weeks. Things are looking very good after a big couple of dumps of snow.

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

The snow cover at the moment is fantastic with deep drifts and general a good amount of snow about. The snowpack is generally pretty settled and when the cooler temperatures hit later this week it will consolidate even more!

 

I found a couple of weak layers in the pit I dug today on a NE aspect slope at about 3,300m altitude. A graupel layer was just under the two inch surface layer and it is 3 to 4 inches thick in places and no doubt from the last snow storm that had some strong winds. Then the second weak layer I found was about 40cm below that. It sheared with a moderate pull on a hand shear test.  It is worth keeping these two suspect layers in mind whilst out. If we get another big dump of snow then the graupel layer could become very dangerous!

 

 

Pit I dug with the graupel and deep weak layer clearly showing 24-2-16

Pit I dug with the graupel and deep weak layer clearly showing 24-2-16

 

Graupel 24-2-16

Graupel 24-2-16

 

Overall the snowpack was pretty stable but do watch out with the warmer temperatures and avoid windslab!

 

 

From today's forecast at: www.mountain-forecast.com

From today’s forecast at: www.mountain-forecast.com

 

Climbing Conditions

The big routes on Toubkal West look like the will come into condition soon but they do need a bit more time for the snow slopes to firm up and for some more ice to form. It looks the same for the big lines on Afella. The route Corredor ENE del Ras, D, 500m route still looks good but probably has some deep deposits of snow.

 

Toubkal West looking like the big lines are getting doable! 24-2-16

Toubkal West looking like the big lines are getting doable! 24-2-16

 

Afella looking better as well 24-2-16

Afella looking better as well 24-2-16

 

The Afekhoi cascades are good to go and should be good for climbing with the lower temperatures coming soon.  Chockstone Gully and Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left of Chockstone) are still looking in good condition but the smear is missing the lower section.

 

Afekoh cascades ready for action 24-2-16

Afekhoi cascades ready for action 24-2-16

 

The ice just behind the refuge is pretty buried, but the stuff higher up around the refuge looks good and fat!

 

Overall things are set to get good! We should see the bigger lines come in to conditions as there is plenty of snow to feed their formation! Also, the single pitch ice all seems to be in good to go!

 

Refuge Access

Porters are now essential for getting supplies and extra gear up to the refuge as the track is now full of snow! Mules can get as far as Sidi Cham 2,350m but no further. Do make sure to pay your porters and muleteers properly and keep to 80kg for a mule loads and 20 to 25kgs for porter loads!

 

Ski trackes out of the the North Col route of Toubkal 24-2-16

Ski tracks out of the the North Col route of Toubkal 24-2-16

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Finally, some significant snow has been laid down in the High Atlas mountains! The snowpack is settling well, but do watch out for a couple of suspect weak layers – the in graupel layer and a weak layer deep in the pack. With the warmer conditions tomorrow and Friday and then the temperatures dropping right down we should see the snowpack firm up! Also, as time goes on the bigger routes on Toubkal West and Afella should start to come into condition and the rest of the ices continues to be good from the most part!

 

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!

 

James, Full-time guide/instructor for TMP

James, Full-time guide/instructor for TMP

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, Morocco, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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