Our adventure began in the small trail head village of Imlil. Using a grand taxi is a cheaper option and for only 80 dirhams you can ride in relative comfort. We pre-booked a nights accommodation at Hotel Soleil which is found just off the taxi rank. The owner Abdelatiff and his colleague Yassin were very helpful and arranged a mule to take our bags to the refuge and found me a more up to date map.
Mule welfare Mules and muleteers are the backbone to many of the trekking expeditions, they ferry stock to the refuge and provide an emergency means to evacuate sick trekkers. When requesting a mule its important to specify that you require a well treated healthy mule. A basic inspection of the mule will show if its skinny or is overworked.While most muleteers that we met have a real interest in their mules welfare, their are still some that over work them to gain extra money, leaving some mules in ill health. Mules can carry a load of 60kg safely which is about four packs. Its also worth noting that mules cannot travel on snow or ice, if the snowline is below the refuge you will have to carry your bags the rest of the way!
In the evening we walked around the village to get supplies like water and snacks for the trek. Its important to speak with local guides or store owners who can give you more information on ground conditions at the refuge. We were told that snow was present from 2500m and beyond so crampons would be needed. Local stores sell crampons axes and most other equipment that you will need but its worth taking your own just in case.
imlil to toubkal refuge
Starting out early morning we left Imlil for the small village of Around(1900m). We followed the trail through the village keeping to the lower side in view of the river. At the end of the village you find a large river bed with an impressive view of the Atlas.
After a long hot trek through fantastic landscape we arrived at Sidi Chamharouch which is a small dwelling that surrounds an ancient shrine. This is a great place to stop for a rest and a top up of fluids.We found a fantastic little stall that sells orange juice, water and mint tea that was next to the waterfall.
After a nice refreshment and cool down we headed up towards the refuge. From Sidi Chamharouch expect to take 2-4 hours until you reach the end of the trail. It can be very hard going as you aproach 3000m but their are plenty of oportunities to stop for fresh juice or water along the trail.
The refuge is basic but offers all you will require for your stay. Often seeming chaotic the atmosphere is nice inside, however, don’t expect much sleep, the dorms are usually full and the altitude makes sleeping tough!
5am we woke and headed for breakfast. After spending all night being ill I finally managed to gain enough energy to make the summit attempt. The snowline started at the rear of the refuge and crampons were required. Temprature was cold (-5C) as we made our way up the steep slopes towards the col but it is very easy to navigate.
Reaching the main summit ridge took lots of energy as the Altitude reaches 4000m. The temperature was rising all the time but still felt cold in the wind. The ridge made its way up steep scree giving incredible views across the Atlas mountains.
The summit was incredible. both of us feeling light headed we were ecstatic to make it.