On DAY 1, we set out from Kasbah du Toubkal, fabulously resurrected by Mike & Chris McHugo’s Discover UK and now a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. From the kasbah, situated at 1820m (5,971′), we trekked up-up-up to the Refugio les Mouflons at 3207m (10,521′), an ascent of 1387m (4,550′). We took our time enjoying spectacular views and deliriously delicious freshly-squeezed, mountain-spring-cold orange juice along the rocky trail.
DAY 2: Summit Day, like most summit days, started early. We set out with several other groups in the pre-dawn light around 0400 hours. In the first 30 minutes, we hopped across a stream, scrambled up boulders, and dodged patches of snow, our path illuminated only by our headlamps—and our guide Hussein’s iPhone flashlight! But then, we hit the snowline, laced on our crampons for the next 600 metres (~2000′) until about 200 metres below the summit. Between mid-December to early May, Toubkal is a technical hike requiring crampons and occasionally an ice axe—to arrest acceleration down the hill if you trip-and-slip.
At 06:30, fingers of light caressed the massif.
We hid our crampons under one of the bizillion rock piles and merged with some of the 100 trekkers who attempt the summit each day. One fellow, Hamut from Jordan (an experienced climber who danced circles around us) agreed the relentless upward slope of Toubkal challenged more than Kili’s gentler slopes and undulating rivers of lava rock.
08:15 THE SUMMIT 4176 metres (13, 701′) tired but happy following the strenuous hike but without a hint of altitude sickness or sore muscles. We’re on top of the highest peak in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, North Africa, and the Arab World—seated beside a curious metal triangle laden with graffiti that marks the summit.
After 15 minutes of sunshine and chatting , its time to descend—aided by more graffiti.
NEXT UP: The DESCENT