Category Archives: Mountaineering

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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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 #2 – Dec 2015

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – December 16, 2015

 

Over the last couple of weeks there has been little change in winter conditions for the High Atlas and Toubkal. There has been no new snow unfortunately!

 

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Toubkal – photo taken from the Tadat col 15-12-15

 

Marc and I have been out checking out routes and conditions underfoot since Saturday and just got back yesterday evening. We spent the majority of our time based at the Toubkal refuge but did head over the Tadat col to see what the crack was on the Tazaghart plateau / Lepiney refuge side. The approach and descent gullies where hard going on the scree that is usually covered in snow by now. The northern cwm on the Tadat traverse had a good amount of snow and a few sections of old windslab that should be treated with caution! We found similar bits of old windslab on our descent off Akioud. These less stable section are easily avoided and are very small and in isolated areas on more northerly aspects, but again should be avoided.

 

 

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Akioud 14-12-15

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

Snow cover again varies from 3500 to 3,800m depending on how exposed it is to the sun. And as noted in my last post the snow is well consolidated and firm underfoot which makes travel pretty quick. There are isolated patches of old windslab as mentioned should be avoided.  Even though the snow cover is limited, do bring an axe and crampons as they are essential for safe travel on the hard neve! The standard routes up Toubkal, Ras and Timesguida, Akioud all need crampons and ice axes.

 

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North cwn Tadat traverse

 

Climbing Conditions

There is some ice in condition, but the major lines ice/mixed lines on Toubkal West, Afella need more snow.  The Afekhoi cascades continue to have a few pitches of ice. Chockstone Gully as well as Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left) are in. On Sunday, we climbed the couloir up the center of Ras which makes a nice mountaineering day and on our way back to the refuge spotted some good ice near the Tizi Ouagane areas!

 

 

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Main couloir up Ras 13-12-15

 

 

Also, some of the major gully lines on the Tazaghart plateau looked to be in good condition while the descent gully was lacking snow. As you can see for the picture below, almost all the major approach slopes in this area are snow free which will make for hard going to reach the snow in the gully lines.

 

 

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Tazaghart Plateau area 15-12-15

 

Anyone who is wanting some good alpine rock ridges there is plenty in condition with the upper approach slopes to the routes on Ras and Akioud covered in neve.

 

 

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Mohammed (TMP cook and head muleteer) enjoying some easy access ice near the refuge!

 

Chockstone Gully as well as Curtain Call

Chockstone Gully as well as Curtain Call 13-12-15

 

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Ice near Tizi Ouagane 13-12-15

 

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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Marc at the l’Amguird Col

 

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Marc on the AD+ route on Akioud -14-12-15

 

Winter Conditions Summary

The snowpack is overall good solid neve and well consolidated! The snowline is pretty high at the moment, around the 3500 to 3800m mark and even higher on the southerly facing slopes. Crampons and ice axe are need for the major peaks. Due to the snow being hard and well consolidated the avalanche risk is low but do take care to avoid old patches of windslab and continue to monitor the weather forecast as a big dump of snow would change things! The mountaineering routes (ridges and major gullies that have snowcover) 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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Weather forecast from www.mountain-forecast.com 16-12-15

 

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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, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, 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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