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Toubkal 4167m mountain focus page

Links to our courses that ascend this mountain: Winter Toubkal / Summer Toubkal / Ski Toubkal / Run Toubkal
History and background
Toubkal Is a mountain peak in southwestern Morocco, located in the Toubkal National Park. At 4167 metres (13,671 ft), it is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains and in North Africa. The mountain is located approximately 63 km south of the city of Marrakesh.

The first ascents of Toubkal were most likely by Berber tribesman during hunting trips long before recorded ascents began. The first recorded ascent by Europeans was on 12 June 1923 by two Frenchmen Marquis de Segonzac, Vincent Berger, and Hubert Dolbeau. The height of the mountain was recorded in 1924, and the summit pyramid, which is a trigonometrical signal, was built in 1931.
The key climbing seasons
Ascents can be made throughout the year, though it's normal for the ground to be snow covered from November until May. During these months crampons and axes are advisable. Even in the summer, temperatures can be well below freezing above 3500m, and therefore good boots and waterproofs are required throughout the year, and trekking poles are invaluable for the scree. Most trekkers usually approach the mountain from the road-end village of Imlil, using mules and porters to carry equipment and food supplies higher into the mountains.
Routes on Mount Toubkal
The normal route starts with an easy walk to the village of Aroumd, then across a floodplain before the route follows the left slope of the valley southwards. The valley bends to the east to the tiny settlement of Sidi Chamharouch, with the path leading over the stream and steeply uphill to the right side of the Isougouane valley, which leads to two stone-built refuges (old Neltner Refuge and new Refuge du Toubkal). More information on both refuges can be found below.

From the refuges, the path crosses a stream and then climbs a steep scree slope to the east and enters a valley, then climbs another steep slope to reach a col (Tizi'n'Toubkal at 3,940m). At the col the route turns left (northwards) to the summit ridge of Jbel Toubkal. The 4,167m summit is crowned pyramidal metal frame from which the views are amazing across the mountains to Marrakech to the north, and the start of the Sahara to the south.

Summer Ascent of Toubkal

Ascent of the route during the summer (from May) is non-technical yet moderately difficult, only complicated by steep and slippery scree slopes and altitude sickness. Sturdy boots and proper (windproof) clothing are required, and trekking poles are helpful on the scree. An ice-axe may be needed on the remaining snowfields in the early summer. In summer the mountains can be very dry, but are sometimes subject to storms. Although the temperature should remain above zero during the day, freezing conditions are possible over 3,500m.

Winter Ascent of Toubkal

The ascent during the end of the winter and spring (February/March) is more difficult. In winter the mountains are covered in snow and ice, and can be prone to avalanches, and crampons are necessary. The winter months allow an opportunity for skiing and ski touring as the snow can lie to considerable depth and cover many rocky slopes.

The ascent of Mount Toubkal in the winter can be undertaken as part of Icicle Mountaineering's Winter Toubkal, Morocco 2015, which is a 8 day course (6 days guiding), and runs from the end of June until mid-September. The guiding ratio for this course is 1:6, and includes the summit of Mount Toubkal 4167m; and Ouanoukrim 4089m. No previous winter experience is required for this course, as all skills are taught on the trek. The itinerary has been designed for keen walkers, as the ascent is non-technical, but involves some easy scrambling and snow slopes.

From both summits, the views are amazing across the mountains to Marrakech to the north, and the start of the Sahara to the south. All around are the jagged peaks of the High Atlas stretching as far as you can see in every direction.

Icicle also run a Toubkal ski touring course, which runs over a period of 9 days, 7 of which are guided, during February, March and April. The course includes acclimatisation before ski touring up Toubkal, and is suitable for experienced ski tourers as there are you have to ski up to 45° in sections. Meals on the mountain are all provided, and accommodation is in refuges, villages and gites / riads.
Mountain huts on Mount Toubkal
At the base of the south col / cwm route there are two refuges at 3207m that are open to the public, positioned at the head of the Toubkal / Imlil Valley. The refuges are literally next door to each other, the lower one called the 'Refuge du Toubkal', the other called the 'Les Mouflons de Toubkal'. There are also several refuges in the neighbouring Azzaden Valley. Whichever refuge you end up at, you can expect fairly crammed in dormitories, and shared bathrooms, as both of the huts are usually full to capacity, especially in peak season (Easter, September and in the summer). Camping is also allowed outside both of the huts.

In 1938 the French Alpine Club Section Casablanca decided to build a shelter called Neltner, named after Mr Louis Neltner, one of the best geologists and mountaineers of the time. The purpose of the shelter was to provide a fixed base at the foot of the northern slopes of Toubkal. The hut was renovated in 1999, and provides 86 beds for tourists, and 20 beds for muleteers.

Although this hut is older and with less modern facilities than the nearby Les Mouflons hut, it is still very popular with mountaineers, and many guides and muleteers prefer to stay in this hut due to it being a warmer building. The hut includes a dining room, a small shop selling snacks, soft drinks and mineral water, a sitting room with a fireplace and lots of large dorms. All dorms have bunk beds, with mattresses laid side by side with barely space to fit a book between. It also provides kitchen facilities for food preparation by guests staying at the hut, which can then be served in the d
ining area.

The Les Mouflons do Toubkal mountain hut was built by a local man Haj Mohamed Imzilen, and construction finished in 1997. The Les Mouflons do Toubkal hut benefits from the more recent construction. It has a welcoming large open plan space with tiered galleries, however due to the open plan design it can get rather cold at night, especially in the middle of winter, with the only fire being inadequate to heat the large room. The dormitory bedrooms and shared bathroom facilities are of a similar level as those at the Nelter Hut. The Les Mouflons do Toubkal hut has a well stocked shop which provides basic food, water and snacks. The refuge caretaker can also organise meals for you, or alternatively a kitchen available for use.
Mountain focus pages
Mountain focus page
Mont Blanc 4810m
Eiger 3970m
Matterhorn 4478m
Gran Paradiso 4061m
Mt Toubkal 4167m
Kilimanjaro 5895m
Mountain focus authors
We are in the process of developing these mountain focus pages for many of the key peaks that we offer trips too, in order to help people prepare better for their trips.
This page has largely been written by Emma from our Windermere HQ, and it's here that most people have their first contact with us, in person or on the phone.
We are always editing these pages, so if you have any feedback about information we should add to the page, please let us know. We feel it's important that all our staff are experts on the mountains we offer trips to, so we are all involved in developing these focus pages.
Latest news from Icicle
Preparation for the ascent
An ascent of Toubkal should not be underestimated, and you should arrive for this course in good physical condition as the climb will probably be the greatest physical exertion of your life. Please don't ignore this issue...

We highly recommend that you read our training page (click here) for details on how to prepare.

As mentioned previously we require our clients to have specific experience, skills and fitness before attempting Toubkal. While not the most technical course we offer it is important to be able to move quickly and adeptly up and over rock. Indoor climbing while great for building up strength and balance is not a substitute for rock so head to the Lakes or North Wales: a couple of days getting used to uneven terrain and gritty rock is a perfect way to improve your skills never mind escaping those sweaty gyms and having a douse of fresh air to invigorate your training.

Those that have not had much experience with crampons could still attempt Toubkal if they have appropriate rock climbing experience as it is only the final summit block that usually demands crampons. We also expect you to have the required levels of fitness for such a demanding route not only for bettering your chances of summit success but also for your own safety and well-being. Please follow our training plans and, once you think you've reached the physical peak required train even harder!
Postscript to this focus
This page is constantly updated as a result of changing techniques, conditions, and latest news. Please don't use this page alone as the research you undertake for an ascent, and it does definitely not attempt to offer any of the instruction of techniques which you will require. Details of many other sources of information have been provided, which you should consult before an ascent. Remember that to climb any mountain is a privilege, not a guarantee. If you found this page of use, and have any other information that others may find helpful, then please e-mail us. We will post any useful extra information on the page, and you will be cited. It is this sharing of knowledge that makes the climbing community so close, and this extra knowledge will increase your chances of reaching the summit.
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.

Get in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor.

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