Mountaineering in the Moroccan High Atlas
Walks, climbs & scrambles over 3000M
By Des Clark
This guidebook describes 50 walks, climbs and scrambles in the Moroccan High Atlas. The routes were written with winter conditions in mind and are suitable for experienced winter mountaineers and walkers. The routes cover 30 peaks and are all above 3000m with the highest being Jbel Toubkal at 4167m.
SeasonsAll routes described can be undertaken in the spring and autumn, but most have been described with a winter ascent in mind.
CentresTaroudant, Marrakech, Imlil, Oukaimeden, Ait Bougammez, Zawat Ahansal, Midelt
DifficultyMost of the technical climbing grades fall within the Alpine F- to AD range; also included are the author's own grades for remoteness, navigation and commitment.
Must Seeall the 4000m peaks in the High Atlas, including Jbel Toubkal in the central region and Ighil Mgoun in the east, and Jbel Tinergwet, Jbel Awlim and the Tichka plateau in the south-west
The High Atlas mountains of Morocco have mountaineering potential galore. With 7 major summits over 4000m, and myriad other remote and little-climbed summits, the region offers countless challenges for experienced winter climbers and scramblers looking for adventure.
This guidebook contains full route descriptions for 50 walks, climbs and scrambles on 30 peaks right across the range from Taroudant in the south-west to Midelt in the north-east, all easily accessible from Marrakech airport. Each route is graded by remoteness, navigational difficulty and commitment.
The mountains of the High Atlas seldom drop below 3000m so naturally all the summits and routes are over 3000m, so some mild affects of altitude, such as shortness of breath, may initially be felt, particularly on the 4000m summits. This may affect initial performance, but most people should get used to the altitude in a few days. There are at least seven mountains that reach over 4000m; the highest of these is Jbel Toubkal at 4167m.
While the vast majority of routes in the guidebook can be undertaken in the late spring and autumn, the emphasis is on winter ascents (from early November to mid-April). All the routes in this guidebook assume a certain amount of winter mountain experience on your part, the majority of the routes were written with winter conditions in mind.
This guidebook divides the range into three regions, using two road passes as boundaries, and the routes are described under the following regional sections.
• west of Tizi n-Test (routes from Taroudant)
• between Tizi n-Test and Tizi n-Tichka (routes from Imlil and Oukaimeden)
• east of Tizi n-Tichka (routes from Ait Bougammez, Zawat Ahansal and Midelt)
Local customs and etiquette
Plants and flowers
When to go
Visas and permits
Planning and maps
Getting to Morocco
Getting around Morocco
Mules and porters
What to take
Health and safety
Communication and navigation aids
Respecting the environment
Using this guide
West of Tizi n-Test
1 Jbel Tingerwet south-west ridge
2 Jbel Tingerwet west-north-west ridge
3 Jbel Awlim south-west ridge
4 Jbel Awlim south ridge
5 Imaradene from the east
6 Imaradene from the south and west
7 Awlim north-east ridge
8 Awrir n-Said west ridge
Between Tizi n-Test and Tizi n-Tichka
Getting to the refuges from Imlil
Traverses between Lepiney and Toubkal refuges
9 Toubkal refuges via Tizi Aguelzim
10 Toubkal refuges via Tizi n-Tadat
11 Toubkal refuges via Clochetons breche
12 Toubkal refuges via Tizi Melloul and Tizi Afella
13 Tazaghart via Tizi Melloul
14 Tazaghart Diagonal Couloir
15 Tazaghart Descent Couloir
16 Biguinoussene from Tizi n-Tadat
17 Biguinoussene south ridge
18 Afella via Tizi Melloul
19 Afella via Aougdal Bou Tiouna
20 Akioud north-north-west ridge
Ras and Timesguida n-Ouanoukrim
21 Ras and Timesguida n-Ouanoukrim east ridge from Tizi n-Ouagane
22 Ras and Timesguida n-Ouanoukrim north-east couloir
23 Ras and Timesguida n-Ouanoukrim north-west ridge
24 Jbel Toubkal south cwm south col
25 Jbel Toubkal north cwm north col
26 Jbel Toubkal north-east ridge
27 Jbel Toubkal south-west (Ouanoums) ridge
28 Jbel Toubkal south-east ridge
29 Toubkal West north-east ridge
30 Imouzzer north cwm north col south-west ridge
31 Angour north side ledge
32 Angour west ridge
33 Anrhemer west ridge
34 Bou Iguenouane via Amazzer Meqqoren
35 Bou Iguenouane ridge traverse (north to west-south-west)
Aksoual and Azrou n-Tamadot
36 Tizi Likemt to Tizi n-Tagharat traverse
East of Tizi n-Tichka
Getting to Tarkeddit refuge
37 Tarkeddit refuge from Agouti
38 Tarkeddit refuge from Sebt Ayt Bou Wlli
39 Tarkeddit refuge from Tondout
Ighil Mgoun and Mgoun West
40 Ighil Mgoun and Mgoun West from Tarkeddit refuge
41 Ighil Mgoun and Mgoun West north-east ridge (traverse)
Oumassin and Aslad
42 Oumassin and Aslad from Tarkeddit refuge
43 Aklim from Tarkeddit refuge or Tatrarat
44 Tarkeddit ridge – east to west traverse
45 Ouaougoulzat west summit
47 Azurki north-east to south-west ridge traverse
48 Azurki north face couloirs
49 Jbel Maasker via Inifif
Jbel Ayyachi, Sayd ou Addi and Ichichi n-Boukhlib
50 Jbel Ayyachi, Sayd ou Addi and Ichichi n-Boukhlib via the Cirque de Jaffar
APPENDIX A Further reading
APPENDIX B Useful words and phrases
APPENDIX C Route summary table
APPENDIX D Refuge summary table
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'I think this is the first dedicated winter guidebook to the Atlas that I’ve seen in English.
…it will open the door for people who need a guidebook before they head out there, then things will begin to develop at a faster pace in this beautiful corner of the world.’
Mountain Rescue, July 2011
‘I would rate Morocco as a superb venue for an all-out assault on the senses as well as an excellent location for walking and climbing. Picking up Des Clark’s book not only reinforces this but also gives one a real incentive to get out there and get into the mountains.
Des, apart from being qualified for what he does as a job, lives in the area and obviously knows the mountains very well. This is reflected in the routes that he has chosen for inclusion, and the variety of trips seem to be very well chosen, spread and thought through.
The first 50 pages or so deal with the practicalities of travel in Morocco, and there’s plenty of guidance on what kit to take, along with specifics for the Moroccan winter. Tips such as taking a cover for your rucksack when bivi-ing in winter…show thoughtfulness of content. The rest of the book is taken up with a variety routes in various areas, along with useful timing, grades, equipment and start-point details.
…There are plenty of in-context photographs to illustrate certain areas, and these also serve as an incentive to get out there. The maps are very clear and well annotated and will be very useful when planning your trip…
All in all, this is a very useful addition to your trip-planning bookshelf and, due partly to its soft plastic cover, a very handy reference to have along with you in your rucksack.’
Scottish Mountaineer, Oct 2011
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Des Clark is a qualified International Mountain Leader who has his permanent home in southern Morocco, close to the High Atlas mountains. Here he runs his own mountaineering and trekking business, guiding trips in winter, spring and autumn throughout the Atlas range. He has climbed extensively in Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, the Alps, Pyrenees and Andes, but reserves a special fondness for his High Atlas home.View Guidebooks by Des Clark