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Discover the Moroccan High Atlas with a Cicerone guidebook - Sample Route

Cover of Mountaineering in the Moroccan High Atlas
Availability
Published
Published
15 Feb 2011
ISBN
9781852846114
Edition
First
Size
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.6cm
Weight
280g
Pages
192
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Mountaineering in the Moroccan High Atlas

Walks, climbs & scrambles over 3000M

by Des Clark
Book published by Cicerone Press

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.

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Description

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)

  • Activities
    scrambling, climbing, walking
  • Seasons
    All routes described can be undertaken in the spring and autumn, but most have been described with a winter ascent in mind.
  • Centres
    Taroudant, Marrakech, Imlil, Oukaimeden, Ait Bougammez, Zawat Ahansal, Midelt
  • Difficulty
    Most 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 See
    all 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
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Contents

Preface

Introduction

European exploration
The Berbers
Language
Local customs and etiquette
Building styles
Plants and flowers
Wildlife
When to go
Money
Visas and permits
Planning and maps
Tourist information
Getting to Morocco
Getting around Morocco
Accommodation
Mules and porters
Local guides
What to take
Health and safety
Communication and navigation aids
Respecting the environment
Using this guide

West of Tizi n-Test

Taroudant

Jbel Tinergwet

1  Jbel Tingerwet south-west ridge
2  Jbel Tingerwet west-north-west ridge

Jbel Awlim

3  Jbel Awlim south-west ridge
4  Jbel Awlim south ridge

Imaradene

5  Imaradene from the east
6  Imaradene from the south and west

Awlim

7  Awlim north-east ridge

Awrir n-Said

8  Awrir n-Said west ridge

Additional routes

Between Tizi n-Test and Tizi n-Tichka

Marrakech
Imlil

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

Tazaghart

13  Tazaghart via Tizi Melloul
14  Tazaghart Diagonal Couloir
15  Tazaghart Descent Couloir

Biguinoussene

16  Biguinoussene from Tizi n-Tadat
17  Biguinoussene south ridge

Afella

18  Afella via Tizi Melloul
19  Afella via Aougdal Bou Tiouna

Akioud

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

Jbel Toubkal

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

Toubkal West

29  Toubkal West north-east ridge

Imouzzer

30  Imouzzer north cwm north col south-west ridge

Oukaimeden                      
Angour

31  Angour north side ledge
32  Angour west ridge

Anrhemer

33  Anrhemer west ridge

Bou Iguenouane

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

Additional routes

East of Tizi n-Tichka       

Ait Bougammez

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

Aklim

43  Aklim from Tarkeddit refuge or Tatrarat

Tarkeddit

44  Tarkeddit ridge – east to west traverse

Zawat Ahansal

Ouaougoulzat

45  Ouaougoulzat west summit
46  Tagafayt

Azurki

47  Azurki north-east to south-west ridge traverse
48  Azurki north face couloirs

Midelt

Jbel Maasker

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

Additional routes

APPENDIX A  Further reading
APPENDIX B  Useful words and phrases
APPENDIX C  Route summary table
APPENDIX D  Refuge summary table

Sample Route

View Sample Route Map

JBEL AWLIM (3482m)           

First climbed in 1927 by the French geologist Louis Neltner, and subject to a couple of other French and Polish expeditions in the late 1920s, the potential for new routes on Jbel Awlim has been largely unknown or ignored, save for a few enthusiasts.

Most easily accessed from the south and south-west, it is really the north and east approaches that give the most mountaineering potential. The south-west ridge is taken as a direct continuation from Jbel Tinergwet, whereas the south ridge, while still approached from Taroudant, is gained from another valley system to the east of Tamarowt.

In addition, a complete traverse of the peak can be made either by descending the north-east ridge and continuing on to do the ‘Ridge of a Hundred Peaks’ (see ‘Additional routes’) or, best, by ascending from the north-east and continuing south-west to Tinergwet, from where either of Routes 1 and 2, described above, can be taken. This approach gives the mountaineer many more potential route lines of ascent and is one of the ‘Additional routes’ for this area.

Note that there are no easy escape routes off this peak except via the approach from Tizi n-Tajelt.

3 Jbel Awlim south-west ridge - F


Time 1hr
Ratings R2,N1,C1
Start Tinergwet (3551m)


From the summit of Tinergwet, descend initially to the S for 50m to gain the rocky ridge leading NE. Initial loose blocks give way to firmer rock scrambling before gaining the broad saddle of Tizi n-Tajelt (3231m). From here the summit of Awlim is evident, although the route possibly less so. At the start of the rise to the summit, trend left (N) and then go direct up 100m of grade 2 scrambling, which exits you onto a narrow sloping ramp to the N summit. The slightly higher S summit is a short scramble away. The views dropping off to the E are awesome, and those back to Tinergwet are particularly fine.

4 Jbel Awlim south ridge - 2380m, AD


Access From Taroudant, head N past the Sunday souk grounds on your left and the college to your right and pass through the village of Tamaloukt, keeping straight at this point. Immediately the road begins to rise with a series of bends until it eventually reaches a plateau. Continue past a number of small villages, including Souk Sebt Tafrouten and Tanefacht, and after another 15mins arrive at Sunday Souk el Had, Imoulas (1100m, 1hr 15mins).

Accommodation Some small auberges and unofficial houses provide basic accommodation. 

Local transport Minibuses and grand taxis depart a number of times daily from the NE gate of Taroudant, Bab el Khemis. At the time of writing the cost is 50dh per person, plus a small charge for baggage in a minibus. Journey time is around 1hr 30mins. In addition on souk day (Sunday), camionette transport leaves from the car park on the S side of Place Assarag, Taroudant.

Map 1:50,000 series, Souq Sebt-Talmakant, Feuille NH-29-XVI-3c

Equipment Camping/bivvying for at least 2 nights on the mountain, possibly up to 3 depending on route chosen. Rope and some long slings. In winter, harness, krabs, 2 axes and crampons.

Time 3–4 days depending on descent route

Ratings R2,N2,C2

Start Imoulas


The south ridge is rarely attempted, and proclaiming your intentions in Imoulas will likely result in you being persuaded that the route is impossible! It is a committing route both in terms of height gain and technical difficulties, which gets harder the higher you go. Unless you are prepared to travel very fast and light and are able to manage a height gain of around 2400m in a day, it is more humane to stage the trip over two days and more, depending on what descent route you opt to take.

If you have travelled to Imoulas by public transport and arrive there mid-afternoon, it will be too late to head straight off. However, if you have your own transport and/or have been able to arrive before midday, then it is possible to start the route immediately and have the time to choose a bivvy site while there is still light.

Setting out from Imoulas, take a mule trail NW initially, following the Asif (= river) Awlim before taking higher ground to the W and eventually dropping back down to river and the village of Tammast (2hrs 30mins).

From Tammast leave the river and head NE up a steepening track in a seasonal stream bed before levelling off somewhat to 1983m (1hr).

Veering NW to just beyond 2311m and then NNE, the profile of the S ridge will begin to take shape, with steepening ground to your left (W) and complicated ravine systems feeding the Asif Ait Wedjas to your right (E).

Bivvy sites become less welcoming from about 3000m, so aim to overnight around Pt 2743m. Depending on the season you may find a water source close by (6hrs from Imoulas).

From Pt 2743m the S ridge rises in rocky steps direct to the summit of Awlim. In winter, the ridge is stunningly Alpine. There are no viable escape routes from here to the summit, and the ability to retreat back along one’s steps must be continually assessed, in case there comes a point when that is required. The ridge line should be maintained, as little is gained by dropping off to one side or the other. Grade 2 scrambling out of winter and Alpine PD+ in winter will bring you 150m below the S summit in under 2hrs from point 2743m.

At this point, the ground steepens considerably. Traversing left for 30m, pitch the final (snow) gully to the S summit (Scottish 3–4). As an alternative route for snow-free ascents, a faint line traverses through broken rock pinnacles to below the extreme NE end of the Tizi n-Tajelt. Rock enthusiasts will doubtless pick out new lines on the SE arete.

All these routes demand an ability to cope with sustained exposure while climbing this last 150m. Summit views, especially in winter, are unbeatable (3hrs–3hrs 30mins from Pt 2743m).

Descend by reversing Route 3, above.

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