I always had the idea of ascending the Toubkal Mountain. On July 6th 2010, the day came when I finally decided to do it without waiting for any of my lovely friends to become free. By chance, I made new other friends immediately at the big taxis’ station of “Charij Labgar” in Marrakech.They were two Americans: Daniel from the Colorado and his fiancee, Brandy, from the Illinois.
Departing from Marrakech to Imlil.
At 5:00 p.m, the taxi started moving to Imlil, the last biggest village before climbing. The views all the way sides were charmingly welcoming. A good sign of a probable exciting adventure! And I felt the heartwarming greeting of Imlil’s people at the trip start from the driver’s way of speaking and of two other women who came from Agadir to spend the summer holidays in their place of birth. They all were speaking the local “Tachelhite / Berber” dialect. And I felt lucky to understand it because it is the same language spoken in Tiznit, where I was born.
Few minutes after 6:00 p.m., we arrived to that little blossoming rural community named Imlil. The American couple and I made an appointment of the ascent start for the following day because we hadn’t booked in the same hotel previously. Right after, I called and met Idir, the young manager of The Mouflons refuge where I was going to stay for the night. The reception was gratifying. I deposited my big backpack in my room just before the start of the 2010 world cup semi final game between Netherlands and Uruguay, won 3-2 by the firsts. I also bought some dry fruits, chocolates and sweeties for the next day trek. I had a delicious local Tajine for dinner with green melon in dessert. This meal’s ingredients were all local from Imlil and from the suburbs. At 10:00 in the evening, I had a good warm shower before going to bed.
Leaving for the refuge “Les Mouflons”.
The hike started at 7:00 a.m. and we felt no tiredness at the beginning. The countryside became arid and less green as we walked. The sun was still hiding behind the mountains, and we took the first rays after more than two hours walk, in Sidi Chamharouch, which is a saint’s place where people go for spirituality. We stopped there for a 30 minutes break to drink a hot cup of mint tea. The slope was becoming harder more and more, but we could resist thanks to the zigzagging path. We had frequent stops every 10 to 15 minutes because Brandy was feeling somehow exhausted. Daniel and I continued to support her, knowing that she firmly refused to ride a mule. We had been passed many times by other hikers. The enthusiasm grew in me increasingly even if the stops were also more frequent.
Finally, the refuge “Les Mouflons” appeared to us when the clock came up to 01:00 p.m. At that time, the fatigue really spread through our bodies. One hour walk more and we could get to it and dropped our nearly 30 kgs backpack bags in the refuge dormitory. We relaxed a little bit before having our opulent lunch, a much deserved hot shower as well as a magical nap. In the evening, it was a wonderful atmosphere inside and outside the refuge where tourists from many parts of the world conversed before dinner. By 09:30 p.m., everybody was already in bed to obtain the required sleep and get physically prepared for the following day summit climbing at 06:30 a.m.
Ascension of the highest North African summit.
We woke up at 06:00 a.m. and got ready before having our breakfast. We started walking to the summit at 06:30 a.m. The weather was really wonderful. According to the local guides, sometimes one has to stay in the refuge until the violent winds stop, because climbing in strong winds can be very dangerous. That morning, there were a lot of hikers. And after about half a mile of ascending, the wind started, the temperature diminished and the humidity increased. But the most harassing thing was the gradually lacking of oxygen in the air, in addition to that cold wind facing us.
At last, we started to cross some trekkers returning from the peak to the refuge. Then, we understood that we were more near to hit the top. The summit came to our sights when we were about 100 meters away from it. We got there when it was 10:20 a.m. The pleasure of success was immense and the feeling was too extraordinary to describe. Some French tourists opened a Champaign bottle to celebrate their achievement.
After a photography session and inhalation time, we contemplated the magnificent views from above the 4167m height peak of the Northern Africa.
The descent was risky but fast. We had lunch at the refuge at about 01:00 pm before packing our luggage on a quietly generous mule’s back towards Imlil. This took us nearly 3 hours and a half. Normally, the tourists stay another night in the refuge, but we decided to leave and spend the night in Marrakech where we got late in the evening, extremely exhausted but with a huge self satisfaction of an exceptional triumph.