Category Archives: Conditions

Toubkal Winter Conditions #1 Nov 2016

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

It’s already that time again… Winter seems to be starting early in the High Atlas! We will start posting winter conditions updates whenever possible to give you and idea of the current conditions.

 

I was out last week and Toubkal had a good 6 inches of snow laid down over a couple of days, starting around the 3,800m mark, and with the current freeze/thaw cycles hovering around the 4000m the snow higher up will hang in there.

 

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Looking down from the South Col of Toubkal 7-10-16

 

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Snowpack and Snow Cover

Snow cover is generally around the 3,800m mark at the moment and with the freeze/thaw conditions and groups summiting it is worth considering bring a set of crampons or ice axe for the last couple of hundred meters of ascent up Toubkal as the route will have compacted snow and icy sections on it. This is for those that want a bit of extra security. More experienced mountaineers will find their stiff boots adequate. Also bring good layers as the wind chill is -3 and lower in the forecast, so winter layering is appropriate.

 

Last push on to the Summit! 7-10-16

 

Exiting out from the bowl before the South Col of Toubkal 7-10-16

 

Climbing Conditions

It is still too early for ice in the High Atlas, but watch this blog as we will be posting pretty regularly on the mixed and ice lines once they come into condition!

 

Refuge Access

Mules are able to carry loads as far as the refuge. Please make sure that muleteers and mules are paid well and treated with respect. For more information on good practice please see: http://www.the-mountain-people.com/animal-welfare/

 

 

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The traverse not far from the Summit plateau 7-10-16

 

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Winter has come early to the High Atlas this year and with the current weather forecast it looks like this is more than a freak drop of snow/temperature. Conditions on Toubkal are set to have snow and icy steps so less experience people should consider crampons or ice axe for the last couple of hundred meters climb up Toubkal. The winter climbing needs a lot more snow!

 

 

 

 

James is a MIC and full-time 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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Toubkal Winter Conditions #7 – March 2016

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Toubkal with the sunrise – photo taken from near Ras 4,083m – 2-3-16

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report –  March 8, 2016

The Toubkal Massif is a winter playground at the moment! I got back from a 7-day trip that took in most of the 4,000m peaks in the range, and for the most part found good winter conditions. Harald (professional photographer from Austria) and I had some pretty epic early starts over the week as we were keen to make the most of the sunrise and its good lighting!

 

 

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Coming down the main gully on Akioud (standard route). See the ski touring group in the nearing the col. 5-3-16

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

Again the snowcover is brilliant in the High Atlas and the overall conditions underfoot are good as the snowpack has consolidated and firmed up considerably. We came across some skiers over the week who were enjoying the more northerly aspect slopes. A few of them mentioned that there is good skiing, but you do have to work to get to it.

 

 

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Ras, Akioud, Afella, etc. Good snow cover on the 4,000m peaks!

 

I did run across some suspect layers which showed signs of weak bonding to the adjacent layers but these were mostly in the big gully lines and more northerly aspects. Also, found isolated pockets of the graupel layer (mentioned in my last post) in some of these areas, so continue to be aware when out and about. With the current forecast the snowpack will continue to turn to good neve and generally be stable.

 

 

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www.mountain-forecast.com – taken this morning 8-3-16

 

Climbing Conditions

The big routes on Toubkal West now look good for climbing, but you may encounter soft snow on some of the routes! The route Corredor ENE del Ras, D, 500m route continues to stay in good condition. Unfortunately the big lines on Afella looked a bit thin and most of them not complete.

 

 

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South col of Toubkal and Toubkal West! 3-3-16

 

The Afekhoi cascades will give some good single pitch ice climbing! Chockstone Gully and Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left of Chockstone) is thin near the top, still look in good condition but the smear is missing the lower section of it. Overall there is good ice and mixed climbing at the moment and with the freezing level staying around the refuge height the climbing and mountaineering should continue to stay good in the Toubkal Massif.

 

 

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Afekhoi cascades! 3-7-16

 

Refuge Access

Porters are still essential for getting supplies and extra gear up to the refuge as the track has still has snow on it. Mules can as far as Sidi Cham 2,350m and a bit higher 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 25kgs for a porter!

 

 

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Toubkal Massif yesterday morning 7-3-16

 

Winter Conditions Summary

March is shaping up to be a good month for those looking for good winter conditions in the High Atlas. The snow pack is generally speaking consolidating well and quickly becoming firm neve. There are weak layers in the big gully lines and more northerly aspects slopes but with care should be ok. The mountaineering and climbing is great with the ice and mixed climbing good at the moment and should remain that way with the current weather forecast.

 

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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Toubkal Winter Conditions #6 – Feb 2016

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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Toubkal Winter Conditions #5 – Jan 2016

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – January 31, 2016

 

I just got back from a 6-day trip with Alex and company! We had a fantastic time climbing some of the great ridges and ice/mixed lines that are in condition. Well done to everyone for pushing on some of the classics in the Toubkal Massif!

 

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Looking back toward the refuge and the Toubkal Massif 29-1-16

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

There has been no new snow despite the forecast predicting it on a number of occasions. This and the warmer temperatures have cased a gradual retreating of snow cover. We found the peaks Ras and Akioud still having good cover, but other peaks such as Toubkal pretty patchy!

 

 

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A winter skills group near Tizi Ouagane 28-1-16

 

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www.mountain-forecast.com

 

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Akioud 25-1-16

 

Overall the snowpack was pretty stable over the last week and should continue as the temperature drops a bit over this week. Do continue to watch out and avoid pockets of windslab and as mentioned in an earlier report there is depth hoar in places (weak layer) which could be bad news if a big dump of snow materializes.   The snowpack at the 3,500m mark should continue to turn to neve with the predicted freeze/thaw conditions.

 

 

Climbing Conditions

The route Corredor ENE del Ras, D, 500m route is still in great condition. The Afekhoi cascades are fatter and should be good for climbing with the lower temperatures. We climb Chockstone Gully this last week and finished up the route into the big bowl that you enter for summiting Afella. The ice is in good nick but the snow gully above is hard going with the bullet hard ice with 6 inches of snow on top!  Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left of Chockstone) is thin near the top, but is in good conditions up to the smear. The South West ridge of Toubkal has seen a few ascents this week… we found hard neve between a few of the towers so don’t forget your ice axe and crampons for this classic rock ridge!

 

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Anna on SW Ridge of Toubkal West 27-1-16

 

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Looking across at Toubkal West from the exit of Chockstone gully 26-1-16

 

Overall there is still good ice around but none of the big lines on Toubkal West or Afella are in condition. Let’s hope mother nature has plans for more snow!

 

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Me leading on Chockstone 26-1-16

 

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Ben enjoying some steeper ice near the refuge 29-1-16

 

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Alex and Ishta on the SW ridge of Toubkal West 27-1-16

 

Refuge Access

Mules are still 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!

 

Winter Conditions Summary

There has been no new snow over the last couple of weeks and we have seen a gradual but significant retreating of snowcover. There is still good cover on Ras and Akioud but a lot of the other peaks are pretty patchy. The dropping temperatures should help the the overall snow pack to firm up as it has been warmer in recent days, but once again due take care to avoid windslab deposits and continue to monitor the snowpack as there are weak layers in places. The snow around the 3,500m mark will start to firm up with the freeze thaw conditions.

 

 

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Ben looking across at Ras, Akioud and Afella from the summit of Toubkal on 27-1-16

 

The mountaineering routes such as SW ridge of Toubkal West are in good conditions, but the bigger ice and mixed lines are still not in and are in need more snow! There is still good ice around the refuge and areas where there is good snow cover!

 

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!

 

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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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Toubkal Winter Conditions #4 – Jan 2016

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Toubkal – Photo taken from Toubkal West 9-1-16

 

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – January 11, 2016

 

Well the mountains are looking a lot more wintery, but we still need more snow! I was out for the last 6 days with Martin, a keen alpinist from Germany and we got to do some of the classic ice/mixed and rock lines on Ras and Akioud and summited Toubkal via the North Col route. We had some pretty Scottish like weather with a good 4 to 6 inches of snow being dropped over Friday and Saturday!

 

 

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North Col route up Toubkal 9-1-16

 

 

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

 

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Looking out the north cwm 9-1-16

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

Snow cover has come down to refuge height and we have had some stronger winds from the west / south west causing some windslab deposits on north/east aspects. We came across some knee deep drifts around the 3900m mark both on Akioud and the North Col route of Toubkal. The temperature is raising today to around the summits and then dropping over the next couple of days, which should help consolidate the new snow and help it bond to the older pack. The snow line will raise some over the next days with the higher freezing level, but we should hopefully keep a good amount of cover overall with freeze/thaw conditions predicted at the 3,500m. Be diligent to avoid windslab deposit and also, keep an eye on the snowpack as it warms and becomes heavier especially on the more sun exposed slopes and gullies.

 

 

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Peaks: Ras and Akioud 9-1-16

 

Climbing Conditions

The ice that is around should get fatter with the addition of new snow. Hopefully we will see the big lines on Toubkal West and Akioud start to come in to condition. The route Corredor ENE del Ras, D, 500m (page 72 in Spanish guidebook) route is in great condition. The Afekhoi cascades should start to get a bit fatter as the temperature drops. Chockstone Gully as well as Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left) are ready for action. And there are pitches of ice around the refuge and near Tizi Ouagane that are in descent condition.

 

Anyone, wanting some good alpine rock ridges the approach slopes should be a bit easier as snow consolidates and hardens.

 

 

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Martin coming up the second pitch on Akioud, east face 8-1-16

 

 

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Martin on the Summit of Akioud 8-1-16

 

Refuge Access

Mules are still 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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Leaving the refuge yesterday morning 10-1-16

 

Winter Conditions Summary

The new snow should consolidate and bond well to the old pack with the temperature raising and then steadily dropping over the next couple of days. The snowline is down to 3200m at the moment, but will creep up over the next couple of days. Due take care to avoid windslab deposits and continue to monitor the snowpack with the warmer temperatures.  The mountaineering routes (ridges and major gullies that have snowcover) are in much better condition with the fresh snow and we should see an overall improvement of the ice and mixed lines and a general topping up of the ice that has been in. We still need more snow for skiing conditions to get good and for the big lines on Toubkal West and Afella to come into good condition, but the long term forecast is showing potential snow for next Wednesday fingers crossed!

 

 

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http://www.yr.no/place/Morocco/Marrakech-Tensift-Al_Haouz/Jebel_Toubkal/

 

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!

 

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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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