Category Archives: Mountaineering

Toubkal Winter Conditions #2 Dec 2016

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

A few days ago our head muleteer/cook Mohammed got some photos of the Toubkal Massif for us to share back for those keen to head to the High Atlas with winter conditions! From the photos it looks like the snow cover is around the 3,000m mark on sun exposed slopes and around the 2700m level on more shaded places!

 

I (James) will be out guiding next week and will post a full report on the mountaineering and climbing condition on finishing the trip. From what you can see in the photos some of the ice is in, there is generally good snow cover and the snowpack looks fairly settled!

 

More to come… but for now check out the photos!

 

Last section of the approach to the refuges

 

Afella the peak to the right

 

The start of the South Col route up Toubkal… you can see the standard track on the right side of the photo

 

Toubkal West / Ouanoums

 

Afekhoi cascades

 

Looking toward (Col) Tizi n Ouagane

 

 

Looking down the valley and the approach route to the refuges

 

Afella, Clochetons and Biguinoussene peaks

Categories: Blog, Climbing Information, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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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 #8 – March 2016

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Mouflon refuge and the south col route up Toubkal after the storm broke! 24-3-16

 

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – March 26, 2016

The snow fall has been late this year but better late then never! This last week I was out with Mike and Zach from Texas for a Winter Alpine Ridges trip that included a bit of ice climbing. The boys did very well with the adventurous, blizzard/Scottish-like conditions!

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

A metre plus of snow dropped early this last week which included spells of strong northerly winds. We came across the graupel deposits in isolated places. There are some pretty deep drifts and windslab deposits to look out for and do take care as the snowpack continues to consolidate. Also, take care on the big gullies such as the Tadat and Clochetons couloirs which are pretty loaded. The afternoons with the forecasted warmer temperatures should also be treated with care as the snowpack will become heavy!

 

 

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Walk out from the refuge 24-3-16

The snowpack should settle well over this next week and in the longer term keep the peaks in good snow cover. I imagine the skiing is getting pretty good again!

 

 

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

 

Climbing Conditions

The big lines on Afella and Toubkal West looked in good condition and should stay that way for the next couple of weeks as the recent snow should fatten up the lines.

 

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Toubkal West looking ready for action! 23-3-16

 

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Afella looking ready to go! 23-3-16

 

 

The Afekhoi cascades are good but a bit buried and difficult to get to with all the fresh snow. Chockstone Gully and Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left of Chockstone) once again are ready for action but do take care on the approach.

 

 

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Ice near the refuge!

Overall, the winter climbing should be good for the next couple of weeks but again do take care in warmer conditions!

 

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The boys enjoying the Tadaft Ridge! 23-3-16

 

Refuge Access

Porters are still essential for getting supplies and extra gear up to the refuge. Mules can get a bit further than Sidi Cham (2,350m) but no further. Over the coming weeks, if warmer conditions persist, mules should be able to get higher up the track near the refuge.

 

 

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Mules hanging out above Sidi Cham, 24-3-16

Do make sure to pay your porters and muleteers properly and keep to no more than 80kg for a mule loads and 20 to 25kgs for porters!

 

Winter Conditions Summary

A metre plus of fresh snow fell in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco earlier this week! The snowpack is generally settling well and should continue if the current weather forecast is correct. Do take care as there are weaknesses in the snowpack and avoid windslab deposits. Watch the big gully lines as well as they were pretty loaded. And finally, do watch the later part of the day as the snowpack warms and gets heavy and may become avalanche prone.

 

The climbing conditions should stay good over the next couple of weeks and the mountaineering should stay good as late as the end of April.

 

 

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Summit of Akioud 21-3-16

 

 

For a personalised trekking, guiding or instruction service for Toubkal and the High Atlas, get in touch with us here at The Mountain People!

 

 

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On route to SE face of Akioud 21-3-16

 

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, 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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