Category Archives: Mountaineering

Top Guidebooks for Mountaineering, Climbing & Bouldering in Morocco

The Essentials Guidebooks for Morocco!

 

Good guidebooks are an essential piece of gear for the climber and mountaineer. Ideally, a solid guidebook will have great concise route descriptions, clean photos with routes clearly marked, a bit of beta on protection, and the necessary information for approaches and descents. Good information on local accommodation, transport, supplies etc. are some of the other elements that make up a good guidebook.

 

Below are guidebooks we recommend for your mountaineering, climbing and bouldering adventures in Morocco.

 


Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 12.35.58 PMFor a comprehensive mountaineering guidebook for the High Atlas Mountains we suggest getting Des Clark’s Mountaineering in the Moroccan High Atlas – Walks, Climbs and Scrambles over 3,000m. Des, our senior guide, has lived in Morocco and guided all over the High Atlas Mountains. In this guidebook he brings together his local knowledge and his many years of experience as a guide to give you a great resource for your adventures in the High Atlas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.50.27 AMFor a guide to more technical rock and ice routes in the Toubkal Massif we recommend Toubkal Guia de Ascensiones y Escaladas by David Taura Riera. While not everyone will be able to understand the text in Spanish, the book is worth it just for the topos of the routes. It does also give you good beta on the technical equipment you will need for your chosen route. Be sure to google translate the equipment list to ensure you have the right kit for your trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.47.33 AMMoving on to pure rock climbing guides, we would recommend the two volume set for the Anti-Atlas mountains: Tafraout – Rock Climbing in Morocco’s Anti-Atlas. These two books contain a life time’s worth of trad climbing and give excellent information for your trip logistics. There are now also mini-pocket guides of the best areas, giving you the top starred routes, and they are also conveniently small enough to shove in a jacket pocket.

 

For more information on the guides and the Anti-Atlas check out www.climb-tafraout.com

 

 

 


Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.44.09 AMNow we come to one of my favourite places in Morocco: the big wall limestone area known as Taghia! This gorge has earned a top spot in the international climbing scene with climbers such as Alex Honnald and Arnaud Petit making repeated trips.

 

For this area we would recommend getting the guide Taghia Montagnes Berberes by Christian Ravier. This book is written in French but again the topos of the routes make it well worth its price. You can also find hand-drawn topos of other routes not included in this guide in the local gites in Taghia, so be sure to have a good look around. The Taghia area primarily offers sport climbing with many well-equipped routes. However, it is worth bringing a set of micro and standard cams and a set of nuts to pad out protection and belay stances for the less well-equipped routes.

 

For a great article in English for logistics help check out: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2008

 

 


Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 8.56.44 AMWhat about a bouldering guide for Morocco? 2015 saw the launch of the excellent digital guidebook for low to mid level bouldering for the amazing Oukaimeden area of the High Atlas. This guidebook app is available for both android and iphones. All the routes have a topo, grade and GPS co-ordinates so all you need for locating and selecting your route is your phone! We like this guide for its features such as grade selection: choose a practical grade and the slick filtering system will bring up all routes in the area you are in. The guide is published by Rakkup and put together by Imik’sImik Bouldering and Climb Morocco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Alpine Climbing, Anti-Atlas, Blog, Climbing Information, Guidebook(s), High Atlas, James, Morocco, Mountaineering
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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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Toubkal Winter Conditions #9 – March 2015

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

Today was my first day back out in the High Atlas mountains after my trip to Scotland and it was good to be back! I headed up to the refuge this morning, had a good look around, soloed the first section of Chockstone Gully and then headed back home. It is currently snowing outside our place in the Imlil valley at 1,800m and, if the forecast holds true, we are in for some big dumps of snow overnight and tomorrow and then again on Monday.

 

 

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Heading up to the refuge this morning – Toubkal 19-3-15

 

 

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www.mountain-forecast.com 19-3-15

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

The base snowpack is brilliant – well-bonded and pretty cohesive neve as there has been pretty stable weather over the last three weeks. The fresh snow over the next couple of days is due to fall in low winds so the drifting will be pretty minimal. As the SW winds are predicted to strengthen next week, be on the look out for wind-slab build-up on N to NE aspect slopes. Also, be on your guard when the snow is falling heavily and during the first 24 to 48 hours after the snowfall.

 

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Looking up at the south cwm/col route of Toubkal 19-3-15

 

 

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Tizi Ougane – 19-3-15

 

Climbing Conditions

Generally the routes have survived the warmer weather over the last couple of weeks. The routes on Afella are looking good with Fountain Gully in excellent condition with the upper ice pitch looking fat! Chockstone Gully is in good condition and Curtain Call is hanging in. Some single pitch ice routes at the end of the valley near Tizi Ouagane seemed to have thinned or disappeared. The routes on Toubkal West are in good nick with the upper slopes looking much more consolidated than a few weeks ago and a good build up of ice on the critical sections. The Afekhoi cascades looked to be in good condition, but the mixed climbing on the left buttress wasn’t in condition.

 

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Toubkal West – routes looking in good condition. 19-3-15

 

 

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Afella with it’s harder routes! 19-3-15

 

 

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Chockstone Gully 19-3-15

 

 

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

Access to the Toubkal refuge was good today with the snow line on the path being much higher. About two thirds of the route is clear of snow but this will change with the colder conditions and the heavy snow predicted. You will be able to use mules to Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m) but will need porters for the rest of the trek in.

 

As the new snow on the path gets compacted down, it is a good idea to keep crampons in your rucksack, especially if you are starting out early or arriving at the refuge later in the day.

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Toubkal and the High Atlas mountains are still going strong for winter conditions! And with fresh, heavy snow forecasted it looks to stay that way late into April. The fresh snow should bring back some of the ice and fatten up existing routes. Be on your guard with the heavy dumps of snow (especially the first 24 to 48hs) and watch the strong winds creating wind-slab and big drifts on more northerly aspect slopes!

 

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!

 

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Toubkal Massif approaching the refuge – peaks: Ras, Akioud, Afella. 19-3-15

 

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 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, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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Quick Update from us at The Mountain People

Quick Update from us at The Mountain People

 

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Buachaille Etive Mor – Iconic mountain in Glencoe

 

 

You may have been wondering why there haven’t been any Toubkal Winter Conditions Reports recently! This is because I, James, have headed up to Scotland and have been working towards my Mountaineering Instructor Certificate – a qualification that will allow me to teach and guide on more technical ice and mixed routes. So the conditions reports will resume towards the middle of March when I’m back!

 


In the meantime, here is what I’ve been up to over the last week in Scotland: routes such as Dinnertime Buttress I/II, Curved Ridge II/III, Golden Oldy II , Faulty Towers III, Dorsal Arete II have been hard earned with the wild conditions that are predominant in the western highlands. Slightly different to Morocco!

 

 

 

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Chris and Sam on the approach slope to the Douglas boulder and Fawlty Towers III

 

 

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At a belay on Fawlty Towers III

 

 

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Chris leading through on Curved Ridge II/III

 

 

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Taking coils before Golden Oldy I/II

 

 

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Rob and Andrew on Dorsal Arete II

 

 

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Me and the boys at the belay before the crux on Dorsal Arete

 

 

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The boys stoked after the crux on Dorsal Arete

 

 

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At the finish line!

 

 

 

Categories: Blog, James, Mountaineering, Scotland, Winter
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