On May 2nd 2014, five intrepid Trekkers met in the earlier hours of the morning at Gatwick airport. Two of our number were already in Marrakech and we were flying to meet them, ready for the next day when we would begin our five day trek through the Atlas Mountains with the aim of conquering Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa.
Our trek began in the small village of Imi Ouglad, where we met our wonderful team of mules and muleteers who would carry our supplies (and potentially the Trekkers if things got difficult!) All too soon we were lacing our walking boots, grabbing our walking poles and setting off. It became clear that this trek was going to be tricky when the first challenge was to cross a large river on stepping stones. Naming no names, at least one of our party ended up with a rather soggy left boot! We crossed mountains and valleys and walked through several small villages perched on the mountainside. The day ended with a punishing climb up a steep cliff to the house where we were staying, but we were rewarded by beautiful views of the sun setting over the valley.
As the sun broke on the second day we continued our climb to Oukaimeden, the highest ski resort in Morocco. Our climb continued after lunch and we reached the dizzying hights of 3000m at Tizzi ‘n Addi. We then faced a scary descent down to the village where we would spend the night. The views were stunning and we tried to keep looking at them instead of at the drop down! To our amazement mules were trotting up and down the path at a pace – much faster than we were. After a close incident where one of our party was nearly head butted over the edge by a mule we reached the village of Tacheddirt, the highest village in the Atlas Mountains. We were welcomed by a host of children, who gave us high-fives as we entered – quite the hero’s welcome. Everyone was exhausted after two long days of walking but once again the beautiful views down the valley made all the hard work worthwhile.
The next day we walked to Imlil in the morning, leaving us the rest of the day to explore the village. After realising that the MCT publicity materials had sadly been left in the London office the Trekkers pulled together and created a beautiful MCT banner using a scarf, lipstick, charcoal, grass and some very dry marker pens. With that we were all set for the ascent. We awoke early so that we would get to the Toubkal refuge in good time. The ascent was steady and after three days of walking we were all feeling good. We passed the shrine of Sidi Charmarouch near lunchtime and continued through the stunning valleys to the refuge.
Finally the day of the attempt to the summit arrived. Most of us had struggled to sleep as we were in tiny tents that could not compete with the strong mountains winds. We set off early, just as dawn broke, and began the long and difficult climb. It was hard terrain and we battled against strong winds to make it to the top. After seven hours of hard climbing we finally made it and were briefly able to enjoy the views from the top before a hail storm descended upon us. The hail continued all through our descent, making it very difficult as previously dry terrain was now covered in snow! Fortunately we all made it down safe and sound – exhaustion being the only side effect!
After completing the trek the group headed for Taroudannt where we were able to visit the Centre. A party had been arranged and we played games, danced and sang with the kids at the centre. It was a fantastic end to what had been an amazing trip. We expect that the trekking team will raise at least £7000 that will go directly to help the projects in Taroudannt.
We want to thank everyone who has supported our Trekkers to raise such a fantastic amount. Without you, none of our work would be possible. There is still time to donate – you can find our details here
If this account has whet your appetite and you want to find out more about plans for next year e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.