Tag Archives: Moroccan High Atlas

Toubkal Winter Conditions #8 – Feb 2105

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

On Friday I finished a six day 4,000m Peaks trip with a lovely group from England. Overall, we had fantastic winter conditions on Toubkal and the other 4,000m peaks in the High Atlas Mountains. It is proper winter now with the windchill being sometimes down to -25 C.

 

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Toubkal with the North and South Col routes & Toubkal West with the big mixed lines – seen from the Tadat Col. 11-2-15

 

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Ras (4,083m), Timesguida (4,088m), and Akoiud (4030m) – from the summit of Biguinoussene (4,007m) 11-2-15

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

There is good consolidated snow on most slope aspects. We did find on more northerly aspects weakly bonded layers and pockets of wind slab, which is due to the S to SW winds we have been having. There is snow in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday of this week, and the winds look to be coming from the NW and NE, so watch the more southerly aspects for drifting and windslab build up. Also, beware if the big drop of snow comes, as in places it will overlay on a harder layer and may need time for the layers to bond.

 

Take care on those more northerly aspects and areas where wind slab persists early this week and look for drifting and wind slab on more southerly facing slopes as the wind shifts directions later in the week!

 

 

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Climbing Conditions

The routes on Afella are looking doable and Fountain Gully looks to still to be in condition. Last week Chockstone Gully, Curtain Call, some single pitch ice routes at the end of the valley near Tizi Ouagane, and one of the 600m routes on Toubkal West all saw ascents by a group of British climbers. They reported good conditions on most of the routes, but on one of the routes on Toubkal West near the top, one of the teams reported it to be hard going with loose snow, but the lower sections were in great condition. The Afekhoi cascades looked to be in good condition and again the mixed climbing on the left buttress was in good condition.

 

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Ice routes at the end of the valley near Tizi Ouagane 9-2-15

 

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Afella with it steep wall of mixed/ice routes 9-2-15

 

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Afekhoi cascades 8-2-15

 

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Potential route between the Lepiney refuge and Tamsoult refuge 13-2-15

 

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, food, and peaks and routes of the High Atlas.

 

 

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 normal for this time of year, with hard-packed snow starting above Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m). Crampons are a good idea to keep in your rucksack, especially if you are starting out early or arriving at the refuge later in the day. Porters are needed from Sidi Chamharouch.

 

The Lepiney refuge has snow on the track and from the frozen cascades you will need crampons.

 

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Tazaghart Plateau 13-2-15

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Toubkal and the High Atlas mountains are in excellent winter condition with lots of the mountaineering and ice routes ready for the picking. It would be wise to avoid or take care on more northerly slope aspects and also southerly as the wind shifts directions and a big dump of snow is forecast. There are weaknesses in the snowpack on more northerly aspect slopes, so good route finding and watching the wind and weather will allow groups to enjoy the great winter we are having in the High Atlas.

 

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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Summit of Toubkal – well done boys! 10-2-15

 

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Gully leading to the Tadat Col 11-2-15

 

 

 

Categories: Blog, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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Toubkal Winter Conditions #7 – Jan 2015

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

Toubkal and the High Atlas have seen some pretty wild weather over the last week! I got back yesterday from a five day Alpine Ridges trip.

 

On three out of the five days it felt like we were in Scotland as we faced strong winds, low visibility, severe wind-chill and wind slab build-up on leeward slopes.

 

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Walk into the Toubkal Refuge 15-1-15

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

There has been a lot of fresh snow over the last week and, with the strong N to NW winds, lots of the S to SE slope aspects have a pretty heavy loading of wind slab. I found that the fresh snow in places was moderately bonded to the snowpack, but again lots of wind slab is weakly bonded.

 

It would be wise to avoid deep pockets of wind slab that have accumulated on S to SE aspects. The snowpack should start to consolidate over the next week as we enter into a more stable and less turbulent weather period.

 

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The guys coming into the corrie that leads to Akiode (one of the classic 4,000m peaks) 18-1-15

 

Climbing Conditions

The routes on Afella for the most part still need to fatten up, but Fountain Gully looks to be in really good nick. Chockstone Gully and Curtain Call both looked in better condition than the last time I was up. There are small ice pitches around the refuge and some of the other ice lines heading towards Tizi Ouagane are in pretty good condition and should get fatter with the added snow. The Afekhoi cascades are buried, so a good thaw is needed, but again the mixed lines on the left-hand buttress are in good condition!

 

With all the new snow, the big lines on Afella and Toubkal West etc. should benefit if good freeze/thaw conditions materialise!

 

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Toubkal West 17-1-15

 

So overall the climbing conditions are pretty good, but the big ice/mixed lines will need more time to come into good condition. As the snowpack consolidates the mountaineering routes will become a lot more accessible but at the moment it will be hard work to access them.

 

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Afella – mixed and ice lines still need more time! 17-1-15

 

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Curtain Call (left) and Chockstone (right) 16-1-15

 

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, so you can focus on what’s important!

Refuge Access

Access to the Toubkal refuge is pretty hard going at the moment with lots of fresh snow but as the snowpack consolidates good conditions underfoot will return. Porters are needed from Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m).

 

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Toubkal and the High Atlas mountains have seen a lot of fresh snow and there are some big deposits of wind slab on S to SE aspect slopes. It would be wise to avoid any slopes where these bigger deep deposits of wind slab have accumulated and there is a considerable risk of avalanches on these slopes.

 

Access to mountaineering routes and ice/mixed lines is going to be hard going until the snowpack consolidates a bit. The smaller ice pitches heading toward Tizi Ouagane are coming into good condition and routes around the refuge such as Curtain Call are beckoning ascents!

 

We should see the snowpack consolidate as we enter a more calm and stable weather period.

 

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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Looking back at Tizi Ouagane 17-1-15

 

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Toubkal and Toubkal West 17-1-15

Categories: Blog, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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Toubkal Winter Conditions #6 – Jan 2015

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

After a quick hit of mountaineering in Scotland over the new year, I’m now back in Morocco and can update you on Toubkal Winter Conditions. I headed up this morning to the Toubkal refuges to check out the current conditions and was pleased to find consolidated, firm snow. The stable weather over the last couple of weeks has really done its job and conditions under foot are brilliant.

 

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Looking up at North Col route up Toubkal 8-1-15

Snowpack and Snow Cover

I found very stable, consolidated snowpack due to the freeze/thaw cycles. There is good snow cover and with the firm snowpack and current weather there is a very low risk of avalanche at the moment but keep an eye on things especially during the warmer periods of the day and if temperatures make a big jump.

 

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South Col route of Toubkal 8-1-15

 

With the current weather forecast there will be a couple dustings of new snow and SE winds, so look to avoid patches of wind slab collecting in N and NW slope aspects.

 

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Climbing Conditions

The classic mountaineering routes are in great condition due to the snowpack being firm. The ice routes on Afella and Toubkal West etc need more time to form properly, but may be doable.

 

Fountain Gully looks a bit fatter and doable. Other ice heading towards Tizi Ouagane seems to be forming on smaller cliffs.

 

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Mixed routes on Afella – Fountain Gully far left in shadow! 8-1-15

 

Chockstone Gully looks to be in about the same condition as the last time I reported. And Curtain Call to the left is still in condition. The Afekhoi cascades are in condition and the mixed lines on the left-hand buttress look to be in good nick.

 

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Curtain Call (left) & Chockstone (right) 8-1-15

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Afekhoi cascades 8-1-15

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Mixed crag in the Afekhoi cwm 8-1-15

 

So, to summarise the climbing conditions: the classic gullies and rock ridge lines are in condition and some of the big mixed/ice routes on Afella and Toubkal West etc might go but are probably on the thin side. Hopefully with the couple of dustings of snow that are predicted tomorrow and next week the routes will fatten up a bit.

 

 

Logistics Packages

For Logistics Only Package please get in touch with us! Let us sort all the non-climbing and mountaineering aspects to your trip, so you can focus on enjoying the culture, food, and peaks and routes of the High Atlas.

Refuge Access

There is good access to the Toubkal refuges as the path is clear of snow to Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m) and from there the snow has been packed down and a well-worn path has been established (crampons needed for early mornings and late afternoons).

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Toubkal and the High Atlas mountains are currently in great condition for general winter trekking and mountaineering with a good cover of firm snow. The overall avalanche risk is low at the moment and should stay that way with the colder conditions. Just watch the dusting of snow which is predicted for Friday with SE winds. With the winds there will be some pockets of windslab on N to NE aspect slopes, so look to avoid these by choosing scoured slopes!

 

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Buttresses of Toubkal West 8-1-15

 

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!

 

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Tizi Ouagane 8-1-15

 

Categories: Blog, Climbing Information, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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Toubkal Winter Conditions #5 – Dec 2014

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

I headed up again to the refuge today to check out the mountaineering and climbing conditions and check on how the snowpack was shaping up after the light snow showers we had over the weekend. Toubkal and the High Atlas are in great winter condition. The snowline proper begins at the Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m) with all the snow lower down clearing out quickly over the last couple of days.

 

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Akiode (one of the 4,000m peaks) looking in great condition! 18-12-14

 

Recent Weather

Since the last report snow fell down to Imlil (1,740m) on Saturday night and continued off and on through Sunday. For the most part most of this has gone with just little patches remaining in shaded and north facing aspects. The freezing level has gone back up over the last couple of days and the lovely blue skies have returned! We are back into stable weather for the next week if the forecast is right.

 

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Looking down at the refuges from around the 3,400m mark 18-12-14

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

I found very stable snowpack due to the freeze/thaw cycles over the last couple of days. The conditions underfoot are also good with a sun crust in places and well consolidated snow overall. There were drifts of windslab in places but overall the snowpack seems to have firmed up and gave us good mountaineering conditions.

 

 Climbing Conditions

The classic mountaineering routes are still in great condition due to the snowpack being firm overall. The ice routes on Afella, Toubkal West, etc still need more time to form properly and some of the build-up on the ice routes seems to have retreated a bit. Fountain Gully might be in doable. Hopefully the recent dusting of snow will help the ice fatten up a bit. Other ice heading towards Tizi Ouagane seems to be forming on smaller cliffs.

 

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Afella ice routes 18-12-14

 

I was on Chockstone Gully last week and found it a bit thin in places but it is definitely climbable, as is Curtain Call. The Afekhoi cascades still are not in, but the mixed lines on the left-hand buttress look to be in great condition.

 

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Mixed Buttress at the left side of the Afekhoi (NW Cwm) 18-12-14

 

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Toubkal West with its big 600m mixed gully lines 18-12-14

 

So, to summarise the climbing conditions: the classic gullies and rock ridge lines are in condition and the big mixed/ice routes on Afella, Toubkal West, etc need more time to form.

 

 

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, so that you can focus on enjoying the culture, food, and peaks and routes of the High Atlas.

 

Refuge Access

There is good access to the Toubkal refuges as the path is clear of snow to Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m) and from there the snow has been packed down so no big drifts to wade through!

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Toubkal and the Central High Atlas mountains are currently in great condition for general winter trekking and mountaineering with a good cover of firm snow and should remain so with the current forecast predicting stable weather for the next week. Ice/mixed routes still need more time to come into proper condition. With the freeze/thaw around the 3,500m mark the snowpack will continue to consolidate and hopefully routes will continue to form with the added snow we had over the weekend.

 

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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South Col route up Toubkal 18-12-14

 

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Tizi Ouagane 18-12-14

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Clochetons 18-12-14

Categories: Blog, Climbing Information, Conditions, High Atlas, Ice Climbing, James, Morocco, Mountain Information, Mountaineering, Winter
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Toubkal Winter Conditions #4 – Dec 2014

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

 

Once again we had a good amount of snow fall over the weekend finishing off on Monday! The High Atlas are certainly making up for the last couple of years where conditions have been pretty lean. With the warmer temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday the snow pack has really firmed up nicely. There are still big drifts up to about thigh deep in places around the refuge, but the snowpack should continue to become firm.

 

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Snowpack consolidating well! 3-12-14

 

Snow Cover & Snowpack

Yesterday, I saw multiple avalanche debris sections including a larger section of debris a little way down from the refuge. Also, on my way back down to Imlil from the refuge I saw lots of slopes with sunwheels i.e. the snowpack warming and becoming saturated. This is a classic warning sign so stay alert when out especially later in the day!

 

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Sunwheel – always a warning sign! 3-12-14

 

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Avalanche debris near the refuge – This slide happened 3 days ago!

 

After doing multiple hand shear test around the refuge slopes, I found layers shearing pretty easily on the graupel layer (as noted in the last report) which still exists in the snowpack. Overall the snowpack is consolidating well with the freeze/thaw cycles but it is worth being on your guard with warmer temperatures. The snowpack should continue to firm up as a result of the current stable weather.

 

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Graupel layers! 3-12-14

 

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Snow pit near the refuge 3-12-14

 

Climbing Conditions

The ice and mixed lines are coming into their own! It looks as if, with the added snow and the predicted conditions, the ice will continue to grow on routes on Afella, Toubkal West, and Ras. Give it another week or so and lots of these routes should come into condition. The Chockstone route is in good nick as well as the neighboring mixed route Curtain Call. Also, the Afekhoi (NW Cwm) icefalls need just a bit more time, but the buttresses around the cascades are in good condition for some mixed climbing!

 

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Ice is getting close to touching down on many of the routes on Afella! 3-12-14

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Upclose shot of some the ice routes on Afella 3-12-14

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Routes on Toubkal West need a bit more time to form! 3-12-14

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Routes on Ras are coming into condition 3-12-14

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Curtain Call (left) and Chockstone Gully in good nick! 3-12-14

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Afekhoi (NW Cwm) icefalls en route to the Toubkal refuge need a bit more freeze/thaw but the buttress to the left is in good condition 3-12-14

 

Refuge Access

The snow line on the path to the refuge starts at Sidi Chamharouch (2,350m). Mules are fine to bring up supplies and kit to this point but above Sidi Cham porters are required if you don’t want to carry the load in to the refuge. Snow on the path has been packed down and is hard and potentially requires crampons in the colder parts of the day (morning and evening).

 

Winter Conditions Summary

Stable weather will firm up the snowpack over the next week and the bigger ice lines should start to come into condition.  The mountaineering routes will continue to get better as the snow hardens. There are weak layers in the snowpack but overall it is becoming well bonded but it is worth keeping an eye on things especially during the warmer parts of the day! It is also worth picking scoured sections on slopes or well-used paths (i.e. South Col route of Toubkal) and avoid areas of heavy drifting and loading such as some of the gullies. There are a lot of avalanche debris sites on the way to and around the refuge and one larger site, which released a couple of days ago.

 

For logistics packages in the Toubkal Massif or guided trips then take a lot at the Morocco trips and course or contact us directly at morocco@the-mountain-people.com

 

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Standard South Col route up Toubkal 3-12-14

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