Making the gorgeous Kasbah Toubkal, similar to the final Homely House at Rivendell we walked off into the hills, over low slung bridges, the brown flood water gurgling round the foot of theirs along progressively muddy paths, previous villages clinging impossibly to terraces hanging above vertiginous cliffs, the mules carrying the trekking sacks of ours and also climbing gear making easy going of the slippery paths. The mud and scrubby slopes gave way to open plains, studded with stunted trees. We’d come to the pass. The weather condition near around us, rain falling in sheets. Down we headed. Into the valley, past mud built houses on the magnificent refuge, perched on the edge of a cliff.
In the early morning, the clouds lifted. The view eye catching and unforeseen. The green valleys around our feet giving way to scree slopes, fading further up into the white crowned splendour of the High Atlas. The path’s journey plodded along by the restless feet of ours. The sharp scent of considerable juniper bushes; filling the nostrils of ours. Through Tibet like villages, kids playing amongst chickens; tumble down buildings. The sun shining bright, yesterday’s rain a long forgotten memory. Patches of ice grew beside the track. Shelters for shepherds. Into the Toubkal National Park, the once distant mountains currently rising inspirational above us.
To lunch, by the stream and journey’s end for the mules. Snow balls dangerously on the legs of theirs. Packs on, heavier today. Up over scree, scrambling. Mist sliding lightly into the valley. The sound of waterfalls in the ears of ours. Snow today deep to the ankles of ours. Steep inclines, greater snow, roped up we crept ahead. Ever upwards & onwards. Past 3,000 metres, the breath of ours coming heavier, every step a labour. On during the last traverse, the sad, lonely hut came out as haven, although we knew absolutely no luxury awaited us there.
Considered a cold, damp night, stars shining brightly – no light pollution to conceal the beauty of theirs. The dawn broke. Sun shining saturated in the firmament of its. Sky blue. The majestic, snow brushed crags seemingly within hand ‘s reach, calling for the participation of ours.
Snow frozen hard: one day for crampons, courage and ice axes. Steep, solid, slippery ice. Cutting stages in the corridors: work that is hard at the very best of times. Ice axes whirling from precarious footing. Every level a dice with a 200 metre fall. Unprotected and also exposed we crawled gradually upwards. Each crest guaranteeing an end to the labour; every promise wrongly broken. Until finally, suddenly at last – the top: the work of every action, every ice axe stroke abruptly repaid with several interest – a point of view to keep, to treasure, to recall. Large walls of ice on the right, remarkable traverse in front; great bowl, crying out for a snowboard on the left. And above the uninterrupted blue of an Atlas sky. We pushed on, out with the traverse. Stepping very carefully in the footprints of the individual in front. Tired right now. Top down, counting paces, twenty in a time. Then look up to be amazed at the progress of ours. At the conclusion of the traverse a steep spot of cut ice, at the wrong angle threatened to avalanche. Across in haste and up the final, practically vertical slope. Suddenly, in front we can see Mount Toubkal the target for the last day: the views so now we were anything unique, unspoiled, untarnished: true. Standing up between us and the refuge of sanctuary: a 700 metre, near vertical descent down a gully we nicknamed the Couloir de Mort. Slipping, sliding, striding. Ice axes held prepared, heels down, crampons biting. Calves aching we inched the way of ours down.
We slept like condemned males; fitfully, poorly. Waking before dawn, we slipped through the refuge. The stars bright, with moon shadows around. Up we climbed, crampons crunching. Cold pre dawn air biting the cheeks of ours. Headtorches casting ghostly shadows at the legs of ours. Behind us the Marrakesh lights used in the valley. Gradually the sun rose, lighting the peaks in a light yellowish shine. The skies turned pink, blue and orange. In quiet individual file we shuffled. The stones on the saddle above us lit as yellow teeth. False summit after phony summit. Next we stood on the edge of the Atlas, looking southwards to the desert. The chilly sun full on the faces of ours. One very last climb, rock-strewn slope, one last cold. The snow and ice lying heavy around. Next in front, the metallic triangle, bare, simple, stark: a couple of Nepalese prayer flags fluttered in the breeze. We had been up. We had been alone. We’d the summit to ourselves. A rare moment of pure, unalloyed beauty. The views stretched limitless away to far horizons half imagined towards adventures and mysteries anew. A few minutes to raise the soul above the day trudge. A few minutes to savour, to think, to rejoice. Inspiring and beautiful. The High Atlas had freed the souls of ours to wonder; to dream.
I had an incredible and utterly outstanding time climbing Mount Toubkal as well as the surrounding mountains, but tragically, a British male lost the existence of his in a crash on the manner in which down from the summit a couple of days after the climb of mine. Mountain climbing is a wonderful and liberating experience, but it’s equally dangerous. Whilst I’d motivate you going and find out the attractiveness of the High Atlas for yourselves, I’d additionally definitely underline the benefits of following our traveling advice – ensuring you understand what you’re engaging in, have a good manual and make sure you’re constantly mindful of the own limits of yours. Be healthy.