Hiking Mount Toubkal – three lessons learnt

Being the highest peak of North Africa – Jebel Toubkal located in Atlas mountains attracts more hikers, both experienced and those less experienced, every year. Reasons for this are cheap convenient long weekend Ryanair flights from Krakow to Marrakech, relatively low costs of drive from airport to Imlil (mind! you do not want to spend more than 300 dh on taxi, for that you would need to negotiate surely), spectacular views to name just a few.

The idea to climb Toubkal came into my mind during the first solo trip to Morocco while driving through Atlas on a way to Warzazat in Sahara. Impressed by the views, I thought: How hard can it be really? It’s only some 4k meters. Using words of famous Chandler Bing (Friends): Why not?! I mean it’s just,it’s just climbing! It’s just, it’s just steep!

Well, there is no shame in not knowing… As I found out, it was not easy for sure. Though I guess it was one of the first hiking trips I actually managed as well as I could, so each small step got me closer to the goal. As it happens, I treat every destination as an opportunity to get some lessons learnt apart from enjoying views, culture, food and all seemingly same touristic attractions. Here are my top three from hiking Toubkal:

Don’t be scared, be prepared – both equipment and physical preparation is key. Having been in Tatras a few times before Atlas helped me to get used to walking in crampons. Hell, it is only in Tatras I got to know that those things are actually called crampons and what is the way to put them on! I got used to walking with trekking poles, not so light backpack and ways to limit my baggage. There was a point at around 4000 m when I realised that if it was not for the the hikes I did in Tatras, Toubkal would have been quite a different experience.

Letting go is a skill, practice it – when on the road one has a lot of time to clear his mind. Apart from all the crazy, simple, stupid and meaningless ideas, I got to really realise that everything passes – people, emotions, experience, things, time. It makes life so much easier when we finally manage to drop the idea that it all will last forever in the same state as we know it now. 

Stretch and remember to breathe – during all four days of hiking me and the girls were practicing our version of yoga, stretching and exercising twice a day. It was what one will call a quality time, no denying. Group motivation and happy faces after each stretch were priceless. Short time before Toubkal, during the trip and now some time after it, yoga is becoming my daily routine. There is no going back, one can only get better in it. I have a sense that this one will actually grow into something bigger than just a routine.

Other than that, you can see some moments that stuck in my head. I am yet to learn how to capture the true beauty on camera.

Imlil Lodge morning view of Atlas

Atlas hiking energy overload – off to a good start.

From Imlil via Aroumd via Sidi Chamharouch to CAF Refuge du Toubkal

CAF Refuge du Toubkal looks like a mighty castle in the middle of Atlas

Day 2 start at 6 AM with a sky full of starts I have not yet mastered to capture on camera (note to self! learn to capture night sky on camera)

First rays of sunshine

Stop at 4005 meters just to breathe.

At the top in the borrowed gloves few sizes too big. Happy times.

On a way back down from 4167m to 1800m.

Where is Wally?

Marrakech morning and well deserved breakfast

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