On Sunday 23 August 2015, I completed my task of reaching the summit of Mount Toubkal or ‘Jebel’ Toubkal – as known to the locals.
On summit day, I rose early for our 4.00am start. I had had very little sleep beforehand (as a result of the high altitude). I had camped outside of the Toubkal refuge the night before (at 3207m). The trek to the summit was a challenge with only head torches as a source of light. The route takes you over loose rocks and boulders.... only a sheer 960m incline.
The main issue to contend with was the increasing altitude and cold. Luckily, no one in my group suffered altitude sickness but I must admit that at the summit, I did have a pounding headache and felt nauseous. When I reached the summit, recognisable by the fixed pyramidal structure, it was just before 7.00am and the sun was rising over the Atlas mountain range. What a breathtaking scene- no wonder the Berbers named it Toubkal (meaning ‘the viewpoint’).
I had a local Berber guide called Ibrahim who was skilled and knowledgeable and gave me a great insight into the hard life of Moroccan people living in the countryside. He was very fond of shouting ‘Yalla’- ‘let’s get going’! Our group also had two mules (whom I called ‘Ted’ and ‘Fred’ for no obvious reason) supported by two handlers. It is amazing how much weight a mule can transport..... up to 100kg each! The quality of the food we had was tasty and varied- lots of typical tagines.
Our group started this amazing trek in the town of Imlil (1747m) and the map shows our progress as we took our time acclimatising, first to the stifling heat at low levels and then to the increasing altitude. At times it was hard but I tried to remember that the money I raised was going towards helping children cared for by Tŷ Hafan.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I am so pleased that I did it. I will always remember how I felt when I watched the sunrise over the beautiful Atlas mountains.
Thank you to everyone who sponsored me. I raised £635 and an additional £116.25 in Gift Aid which will all go to Tŷ Hafan. Shokran!