Tag Archives: Winter Conditions High Atlas

Toubkal Winter Conditions #4 Jan 2017

23-01-17 Afella and other 4,000m peaks!

 

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report – January 30, 2016

I got back from a fantastic six-day trip with Alexander from Sweden. We had some fresh snow right before our trip and were greeted with frozen water pipes at the gite in Imlil that we stayed in the night before starting our trip… which made for an adventure from the get go! Our local staff told us that the recent snow had reached all the way down to Tahannaout (small town en route to Imlil) which is around the 1,000m mark. We had a very cold trip but were grateful for the warmth of the wood burning stoves in the common rooms of the Mouflons refuge.

 

The conditions were pretty challenging over the week with very cold temperatures and big drifts of wind slab. We had to turn back on one occasion due to upside down snow (hard slab overlaying soft snow).

 

23-01-17 South Col of Toubkal

 

24-01-17 Alexander working hard at our snowpit heading toward Akioud

 

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

The cover remains fantastic but there continues to be serious avalanche risk especially on leeward and cross loaded slopes.  As mentioned, we found a number of more northerly slopes with upside down snow and also came across big drifts of wind slab. For the most part during our trip we couldn’t go anywhere near north to north-easterly aspects.

 

There was a serious warming over this last weekend with the freezing level going up to 3,600m. With the drop in temperature over the next couple of days, we should see the snowpack consolidated and become more stable…  there is more snow coming though. Watch the wind and how it deposits the new snow. Be diligent with checking the snowpack and its stability and where the wind is transporting it and also watch for heavy saturated snow later in the week as it is set to warm up again next weekend. Be on the look out for upside down snow as well as slab sitting on top of suncrust or another hard layer. Check to see how these are interacting and watch out for clean easy shears of slab on a weak layer or weak interface. We found in places a collapsing weak layer. Really watch for hollow sounding snowpack!

 

30-01-17 http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Toubkal/forecasts/4167

 

Climbing Conditions  

The ice around the refuge was good, but the approach slope to Chockstone Gully as well as Curtain Call (the ice smear on the left) were loaded towards the top.  The Afekhoi cascades are fat and ready for climbing as well as the ice heading south towards Tizi Ouagane. The big lines on Afella looked in good condition but the approach slopes were very dodgy last week, so take care when trying to climb bigger lines on Afella, Ras etc! All the major gully lines were very laden with drifts so avoid those for the time being.

 

27-01-17 Afekhoi cascades

 

26-01-17 Toubkal West

 

26-01-17 Afella

 

26-01-17 Alexander going for it on the ice heading toward Tizi Ouagane

 

Refuge Access

Porters are essential for getting supplies and extra gear up to the refuge as the track has snow on it. Mules can get as far as Sidi Cham (2,350m), 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 25kg for a porter!

 

24-01-17 Akioud

 

Winter Conditions Summary

There is fantastic snow cover in the High Atlas and with the warming over the weekend and now a cold couple of days the snowpack should really start to stabilize. There is more snow predicted mid week as well as a warming over the weekend so do stay diligent assessing the snowpack, watching how the winds deposit the fresh snow. Be on the look out for weak layers and easy sliding on snowpack stability tests that look at shear quality. Also watch for hollow and collapsing under foot snowpack!  The ice climbing is very good, but really watch the approach slopes to get on to the climbs.

 

23-01-17 Me and Alexander on the cold summit of Toubkal -25 with the wind chill at least!

 

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 #3 Dec 2016

Chilling out in the sun after a few pitch up some rock near the refuge! 22-12-16

Latest Toubkal Winter Conditions Report

Right before the Christmas break I was out with Patrick for five days of winter mountaineering and climbing. The conditions looked set to be pretty good since there had been some stable weather for a few weeks and the snowpack looked consolidated – but the weekend before the trip started some serious snow came in… 30cm plus! We managed to get some winter climbing in around the hut, but as the week progressed we found more and more weaknesses in the snowpack along with a couple of days of warm weather.  Patrick, on his last day, made quick work of Toubkal up the South Col route… well done!

 

 

Snowpack and Snow Cover

There is great snow cover in the High Atlas Mountains. There were lots of signs of slab avalanches on N to NE slopes. We saw crowns around the Akioud and Afella area. On more northerly slopes in shallow pack we found cup and faceted crystals around 30cm deep due to the cold conditions.

 

Akioud and a crown on the right where a slab released sometime over the weekend (20-12-16)

 

Another crown on a more easterly slope on Afella (20-12-16)

 

There were a few days of warming on Wednesday and Thursday, but the colder conditions seem to be persisting, so the snowpack will take longer to consolidate. Do take care on more northerly (NE, N and NW) aspect slopes as they will have remained cold and therefore dry snow metamorphism will need plenty of time to firm up and recreate a stable snowpack. The big gully lines up to the Tadat and Clocheton cols looked pretty loaded. There are serious weak layers in the snowpack, so make sure to be diligent by checking the snowpack, following the weather and avoiding loaded slopes!

 

Clocheton gully loaded (23-12-16)

Tizi Ouagane looking heavy laden! (22-12-16)

 

Start of the South Col route up Toubkal (22-12-16)

Climbing Conditions  

We couldn’t get to Chockstone Gully as we found the top section of the approach slope too dodgy to climb, but when conditions get better the lower section of the route is in condition. Routes on Afella, Ras and Toubkal West all need more time as they are heavy laden after the recent snow and need time to firm up on the snow sections. The ice all looked to be in condition… just needs more time and for the rest of the routes to firm up. The Afekhoi cascades look good, but do take care on the approach slopes!

 

Toubkal West / Tete Ouanoums (22-12-16)

 

Afella with ice looking good but more time needed for the gully snow to firm up (20-12-16)

 

Refuge Access

Porters are essential for getting supplies and extra gear up to the refuge as the track has snow on it. Mules can get as far as Sidi Cham (2,350m), 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!

 

Winter Conditions Summary

The snowpack has some serious weak layers within the first 30cm and even down to a metre in deeper sections. Do take care and avoid more northerly aspect slopes (E, NE, N, NW) and continue to monitor the weather. It looks like colder conditions are set for this week which will mean snowpack instabilities will remain. The winter climbing is looking like it will become very good when more favorable weather conditions help firm up snow slopes and gully lines, and the ice sections on Toubkal West, Afella and Ras all are coming into condition, but more time is needed for the whole routes to come into condition.

 

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

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.

 

Patrick getting his swing dialled 🙂

 

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!

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 6.15.27 PM

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

IMG_0668

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!

 

 

IMG_0775

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.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 11.55.01 AM

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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