Category Archives: Conditions

Toubkal Winter Conditions #3 – Jan 2016

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View looking up the valley to the refuge

 

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – January 4, 2016

 

Over the Christmas and New Year period there has been little change to the conditions on Toubkal and in the High Atlas mountains. For more details on what the conditions are like please see my last post! Generally speaking northerly aspects higher up have snow and ice. There is good neve for quick travel in places, but I did find some depth hoar a (weak layer) about 4inches down on approaching the peak Akioud, but it seemed to be well bonded to the adjacent layers. There is a bit of snow in the forecast… let’s hope it materializes as things are pretty thin at the moment!

 

I will be out for the next 6 days and will post full length conditions update late next week!

 

Here are some photos from my last trip right before Christmas! This will give you a good idea of what the current winter conditions are!

 

 

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Tom and Tizi Ouagane (Col)

 

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Good snow near the col

 

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Akioud

 

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Ice near Tizi Ouagane

 

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Mixed route on Ras

 

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Rock route up Akioud on the East face

 

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Gully leading to the east face of Akioud

 

Categories: Blog, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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Toubkal Winter Conditions #1 – Nov 2015

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – November 30, 2015

Well winter is finally upon us, but the white stuff seems to be taking its time to arrive for the 2015/2016 winter season! We will now be starting our regular winter conditions updates, so watch this spot for up-to-date winter mountaineering and climbing information for Toubkal and the High Atlas!

 

Today, I headed up to the Toubkal refuges to have a look around to get a feel for the general winter conditions. A few weeks back we had a good drop of snow which has retreated to around the 3500 to 3700m mark. The snow has been going through freeze/thaw cycles ever since and has consolidated into hard neve! Great for mountaineering although due to the snowline being so high you will have to go through some of the scree slopes to get to it!

 

 

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Ras, Akoide in great condition! 30-11-15

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

Snow cover varies from 3500 to 3700m depending on how exposed it is to the sun! As mentioned the snowpack is well consolidated and great for quick travel with the aid of crampons!

 

 

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Neve hiding from the sun! 30-11-15

 

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Taken from http://www.mountain-forecast.com/ on 30-11-12

 

Climbing Conditions

We need some more snow to top up all the major gully lines! The Afekhoi cascades look to have a few doable pitch but very thin. Chockstone Gully looks like it goes as well as Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left). The other lines on some of the other peaks such as Toubkal West and Afella aren’t in conditions, but the main couloir on Ras looks good as well as some of the other lines on the face! The freezing level is predicted to fluctuate between 3650 to 3900m with a colder day Wednesday (down to 3,330m) which means the lines that are in will stay in. There is a dusting of snow due to come in on Tuesday night which hopefully top things up!

 

 

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Afekhoi Cascades 30-11-15

 

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Chockstone Gully and Curtain Call 30-11-15

 

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Afella 30-11-15

 

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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Toubkal ridgeline from the south col 30-11-15

 

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Tizi Ouagane 30-11-15

 

Winter Conditions Summary

The snowpack is good solid neve and well consolidated but the snowline is pretty high at the moment, around the 3500 to 3700m mark. Crampons and ice axe are need for these higher areas on routes. Due to the snow being well consolidated the avalanche risk is low (but continue to monitor the weather forecast as a big dump would changes things!). The mountaineering routes (ridges and major gullies) 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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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, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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Toubkal Winter Conditions #12 – 22 April 2015

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

It has been a few weeks since my last Toubkal Winter conditions report. The weather has been pretty consistent over the last couple of weeks with warmer weather (i.e. high freezing level.) I headed up this morning to the refuge to have a look around. Yesterday it rained in Imlil and snowed on the summits, so I was expecting to see fresh snow about on top of an old neve pack and that is what I found. With some stronger winds the fresh snow has been depositing as windslab on lots of aspects as can be seen in many of the photos (old pack brown and windslab white).

 

 

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Looking up the south cwm/col route of Toubkal 22-4-15

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

With the warmer weather we have had, the snowpack has consolidated very well over the last couple of weeks becoming hard neve. But with the fresh windslab deposits from yesterday and warmer temperatures forecasted it would be good to be on your guard for the next week or so. Also, keep an eye out during the day for sunwheels on slopes as this is a clear sign of warming and the snowpack becoming saturated and heavy. The deposits of fresh snow seem fairly bonded to the old neve layer when I did some shear tests at a couple of pits but again, as it warms, the snow may slide on the older snowpack so avoid the big deposits of slab and choose scoured slopes.

 

 

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Forecast from today (22-4-15) www.mountain-forecast.com

 

 

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One of the pits and hand shear tests 22-4-15

 

 

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Old avalanche debris 22-4-15

 

 

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Looking north down the valley above the Toubkal refuge 22-4-15

 

Climbing Conditions

I was pleasantly surprised to see routes on Afella still around. Chockstone Gully looks like it still goes and Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left) was still there today (routes visible from the refuge). The Afekhoi cascades are now gone for the season as they are much lower than the refuge (3,200m).

If you are going to get out on the remaining ice it would wise to get on it early in the day as the freezing level is forecasted to be high this week!

 

 

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Curtain Call (left) and Chockstone Gully (right) 22-4-15

 

 

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Afekhoi cascades 22-4-15

 

 

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Afella – still routes to be climbed! 22-4-15

 

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, peaks and routes of the High Atlas.

 

Refuge Access

Mules are able to almost get as far as the refuge and after a couple of weeks and they should be able to get all the way there.

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Winter conditions on Toubkal and the High Atlas mountains are still hanging in there with a top up of snow yesterday! Due to strong winds the fresh snow has been deposited as windslab. With the warming conditions for the short-term (next week or so), it would be advisable to avoid the deeper deposits and take routes on the old neve layer (brownish, hard snow). Also, stay diligent by watching out for sunwheels and the snowpack become heavy and saturated.

 

There is still plenty of mountaineering to do and some of the ice is still around and doable!

 

For a personalised trekking, guiding or instruction service and/or logistics for Toubkal and the High Atlas, just 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.

 

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Tizi Ouagane 22-4-15

 

 

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Ras, Akioud, and more… 22-4-15

 

 

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Toubkal at 12:30 today! 22-4-15

 

Categories: Blog, Climbing Information, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Winter
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Toubkal Winter Conditions #11 – 3 April 2015

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

I finished a five-day trip for a mountaineering club from London yesterday – a group keen to climb the Toubkal and have a bit of an intro to ice climbing. Even with the big thaw on we managed to get out on some ice early one morning at the back of the valley heading towards Tizi Ouagane. There has been a significant loss of snow and ice but there is still enough to do as winter seems to be determined to hang in for a bit longer.

 

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The guys on the summit enjoying the sunshine! 31-3-15

 

The normal route up Toubkal is still in good condition and has a low avalanche risk with most of the route being clear of the last snow and the old snowpack being hard and good underfoot in the morning.

 

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Descending down from the south col of Toubkal 31-3-15

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

The snowpack is generally very good in the morning to early afternoon, but once the temperatures rise the snowpack becomes very saturated and heavy. It would be good to avoid the bigger gully lines and any significant build up of the newer snow in the afternoons and, for the moment, stick to the golden rule of alpine climbing of setting of early and returning early to the huts! There is a progressive drop in temperature starting on Sunday, though, and the freezing level is due to get to as low as 2,600m on Tuesday. This should really help the snowpack to turn to good neve and keep some of the ice lines around a bit longer!

 

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Crown wall of an avalanche near the Toubkal Hut 31-3-15

 

At the moment winter is hanging in, and the colder temperature and little dustings of snow that are predicted this week should ensure good snow cover for the next couple of weeks!

 

 

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weather forecast for 3 April 2015 – www.mountain-weather.com

 

Climbing Conditions

The routes on Afella are again hanging in there. I soloed Chockstone Gully on Monday and it still has enough good ice on it and should stay good with the colder temperatures along with Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left). The Afekhoi cascades are surviving and with freezing level dropping will be good for climbing next week! And, finally, the lines on Toubkal West look thin but just about doable.

 

 

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David enjoying the ice near the Tizi Ouagane 1-4-15

 

 

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Ice pitches near Tizi Ouagane 1-4-15

 

 

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Afella and its ice/mixed lines 1-4-15

 

Logistics Packages

For a Logistics Only Package please get in touch with us! Let us sort all the non-climbing and mountaineering aspects to your trip.

Refuge Access

Mules are now able to get much higher (two thirds of the path in) with the big thaw that has cleared much of the snow off the path getting into the Toubkal refuge. Porters would be helpful for the last third of the route into the refuge.

 

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Winter conditions on Toubkal and the High Atlas mountains are still hanging in there and with the colder temperatures and little dustings of snow predicted things are looking on the up for winter to stick around for a while longer! It would be good to get out and off routes early over the next couple of days as we wait for the predicted drop in the freezing level. As the freezing level drops expect the snowpack and ice lines to firm up and become stable.

 

Again it would be good to avoid the bigger gully lines and any significant build up of the newer snow in the afternoons and for the moment stick to the golden rule of alpine climbing of setting of early and returning early to the huts!

 

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The crew on our way down from the refuge 2-4-15

 

For a personalised trekking, guiding or instruction service and/or logistics for Toubkal and the High Atlas, just 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, Morocco, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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Toubkal Winter Conditions #10 – 28 March 2015

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

Things have been busy over the last couple of weeks with a two trips running back to back. We have seen everything from full on Scottish like conditions (on the first trip) to now the temperatures rising significantly over the last couple of days.

 

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Kasheed making the final steps to the summit! Well done on climbing North Africa’s highest peak! 27-3-15

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

There is good snow cover in the High Atlas! There has been avalanche activity around the refuges and many of the slopes where big deposits of snow were made earlier in the week are becoming very saturated with the freezing level going between 3,800m up to above the summits early next week. You can see from the photos where the older snowpack (brown) has come through where avalanches or wind have uncovered it. The standard route up Toubkal (South Col) is in good condition with most of the older snowpack being exposed.

 

 

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Screenshot taken from www.mountain-forecast.com 28-3-15

 

 

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Avalanche debris around the refuge. 27-3-15

 

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More avalanche debris around the refuge. 27-3-15

 

Please take care and avoid the big gully lines such as the gully to the Tadat col and to the Clochtons. Both are looking very loaded and with warming temperatures will be avalanche prone!

 

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Biguinoussene with the Clochtons (right) and Tadat col (left). These are pretty loaded at the moment! 27-3-15

 

Essentially the snowpack is (where exposed) old neve (clearly seen as brown and duller looking snow) and drifts of windslab that sit on top of the neve. This is a dangerous combination with the warming that is currently happening. Do take care and choose appropriate routes on the older, exposed snowpack!

 

Climbing Conditions

The routes on Afella are looking good with Fountain Gully still in excellent condition and the upper ice pitch looking fat. Chockstone Gully is still in good condition and Curtain Call is hanging in. Do take care with the warmer conditions and many of the routes may disappear if the thawing conditions persist.

 

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Afella with its mixed lines 27-3-15

 

The Afekhoi cascades looked to be in good condition, but may not last long with the freezing level being so high.

 

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Afekhoi cascades 27-3-15

 

Logistics Packages

For a Logistics Only Package please get in touch with us! Let us sort all the non-climbing and mountaineering aspects to your trip!

 

Refuge Access

Access to the Toubkal refuge is about the same since my last update with mules only going as far as Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m). Porters are needed for the rest of the trek in. The fresh snow that we had on Wednesday has made it pretty hard going under foot with deep wet snow above Sidi Chamharouch.

 

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Winter conditions on Toubkal and the High Atlas mountains are still hanging in there although a big thaw is currently happening. Please take care on loaded slopes especially the big gully lines like that of the Tadat col and the Clochtons. The avalanche risk will be serious wherever there is a build up of newer snow, which is becoming saturated, overlaid on the old neve layer. Many of the ice routes may not survive the thaw!

 

 

Let’s hope colder temperatures come soon to refreeze the snowpack and prolong winter!

 

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Looking up at the North Col route of Toubkal (older snowpack darker bits) 26-3-15

 

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Classic shot as we come into the refuge! 26-3-15

 

For a personalised trekking, guiding or instruction service and/or logistics for Toubkal and the High Atlas, just 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.

 

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This little guy was hanging out on the summit! Made me want to take him home with me! 27-3-15

 

 

 

 

 

 

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