Friday, 31 May 2013

School of Adventure Studies. Morocco and High Atlas Expedition 2013.

Over the last 8 days I have been working in Morocco with a group of degree students on the Adventure Tourism Management course  from The School of Adventure Studies, West Highland College for Hebridean  Pursuits Ltd.
The students aim was  to self lead and create an expedition, carry it out and then reflect on the process and outcomes. Hebridean Pursuits initially helped organize the expedition and this trip is the first of three to the High Atlas in 2013 that HPL are involved with. The trip was to offer the students an insight into expeditioning at altitude, other tourism models and a range of cultural differences. Morocco offers all this only 3 hrs flight from the UK. The team achieved much whilst out in The Atlas mountains. We ascended Aguelzim 3650m, Afella 4045m via a fantastic PD+ couloir of snow, ice and rock, Toubkal 4160m [The highest peak in North Africa]. Tough trekking was has between peaks this emphasized  the need to acclimatize correctly and highlighted the differences between Scottish hill walking  / mountaineering  and the higher ranges. It is one of the coldest springs to be recalled in the Atlas, so we are not alone in the slow march to summer. We experienced -19 degrees wind chill on the summit of Toubkal, a complete contrast to the heat of the city once back in the addictive chaos of Marrakesh.
We were based in Riads [guest houses or refuges] and experienced some excellent Morocco food along the way. Everyone remained well and all achieved personal goals along the way. Thanks to all the local guides, cooks and mule men and of course the students for being so amazing and strong, especially on the longer days. Being away is excellent but returning to Scotland and my family is even better. Oban is finally blooming after a long cold spring and the balmy west coast weather has arrived. Hebridean Pursuits are running a 'Coasteering'   Stag party on Saturday and a Silver Duke of Edinburgh training expedition next week so fingers crossed the weather holds up.

On top of North Africa 4167 m. 

Toubkal 4167m

Expedition leaders / guides. Andy Spink and Matt Groves on Toubkal.

Maze terraces at 3200 m. 

Relaxed and calm Riads in the city.

In the Tizi Melloul, en route to Afella 4045m on day 3, 6 hrs into 12 hrs of mountaineering.

Dinner in the Lepiney Refuge. 

Remote trekking routes away from the crowds. Local knowledge is essential.

Looking back to Toubkal 4167 m form Aguelzime at 3650 m.