Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Atlas Mountains Expedition and Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition in Morocco.

Looking back up the valley to Afella and the Biiguinnossene ranges.
Myself with Toubkal beyond from Aguelzim at approx 3700m.
Adrian half way up the narrow 300m Taddate couloir, a great fun alpine ascent.
The gang on Toubkal's summit!
Adrian and Kenny above the valley on day 2.
I have just returned from The Atlas Mountains in Morocco after a fantastic 10 days of trekking and mountaineering with a great bunch of young people from a variety of locations in Scotland. Our adventures focused in and around the Toubkal region. The first four days were based on a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Assessment and the second half of the trip concentrated on ascending North Africa's Highest mountains, in particular Jbel Toubkal at 4167m.
The group had such a fabulous time starting at Imil at 1740m then trekking over passes of 3700m into the quiet, lush and pretty Azzadene Valley and then five days later over to the French Alpine club, Nelter Mountain Hut below Toubkal at 3207m.
I am pleased to say everyone passed their Gold Duke of Edinburgh award with flying colours and we also had a fantastic day ascending to Toubkal's lofty summit from where we were rewarded with amazing views stretching out to the Sahara and the Atlantic coast.
During the trip myself and co instructor / organiser Adrian Henderson of 'ACE' ascended the fine shaped mountain of Biiguinnoussene [4002m] from the very remote Lepiney hut via the Tizi n'Taddate a long snow couloir with an entertaining middle section of mixed ground.
The weather, after a few days of low cloud was impeccable. Allot of snow remains high up, the good winter making for some routes to feel like full alpine ascents needing crampons and ice axes. Back in Marrakesh it felt like a cauldron compared to the fresh Alpine regions we left behind. Marrakesh is a wonderfully colourful and vibrant city which contrasts nicely the quieter hill villages and the shopping in the Souks is every bit as challenging as the hills themselves!
We were very lucky to have the support of Toubkal Trekking and their very skilled staff during our explorations. Their food and local knowledge was so crucial to our very successful expedition. HPL is offering another Gold D of E Expedition for 2012 and we are currently looking for 4 young people to join the four we have already to return to Morocco in June 2012.
HPL are now also offering guided ascents of Toubkal and the surrounding 4000m mountains to groups or individuals for 2012 season and beyond.