He knows no fear!

My travels to Morocco in 2014 – part 3

Today I was going to climb up to the base of Neltner Refuge and the new Refuge du Toubkal. It is a seven hour trek from the village of Imlil.

These refuges are used as a base camp for trekkers heading for the summit. They are at a altitude of 3,207 m (10,522 ft).

The refuge is crowded but camping is allowed for a small fee.

From my lodge in Imlil I was having a traditional berber mint tea breakfast.

Having a mint tea for breakfast.

Having a mint tea for breakfast.

It was cold now that I was at a higher altitude but I was glad that I had my berber scarf on.

Seeing the sun rise in Imlil.

Seeing the sun rise in Imlil.

The route from Imlil reaches the village of Aroumd. Here are more tacky (fake) fossil stalls.

The mosque in the village of Aroumd.

The mosque in the village of Aroumd.

After leaving the village soon a floodplain is crossed.

Looking over the floodplain towards the valley.

Looking over the floodplain towards the valley.

In 1995, a flashflood killed 150 people in this plain.

The floodplain just beyond Aroumd village.

The floodplain just beyond Aroumd village.

The mountains can be seen in the distance.

The mountains can be seen in the distance.

The route then follows the left slope of the valley southwards.

The path then enters Toubkal National Park.

A sign marking the entrance to Toubkal National Park.

A sign marking the entrance to Toubkal National Park.

Climbing up the valley.

Climbing up the valley.

It got colder as I climbed higher.

It got colder as I climbed higher.

I could see the snow peaks in the distance.

I could see the snow peaks in the distance.

Even through it got colder, the sun was still strong.

Even through it got colder, the sun was still strong.

Looking back down the valley.

Looking back down the valley.

My mule was doing all the hard work.

My mule was doing all the hard work.

Looking back down the valley.

Looking back down the valley.

I was cold!

I was cold!

About three hours from Aroumd is the small village of Sidi Chamharouch, which has grown around a shrine. The village is centred around a large white rock that is a old berber shrine.

The village of Sidi Chamharouch and the shrine.

The village of Sidi Chamharouch and the shrine.

A mosque was built next to the rock and the whole area is now a islamic holy site closed to non-muslins.

As a non-muslin I cannot enter the shrine.

As a non-muslin I cannot enter the shrine.

At the village is numberous drink stalls and cafes as well as touts selling (fake) fossils.

A drinks stall at Sidi Chamharouch.

A drinks stall at Sidi Chamharouch.

This is the last village before the refuge is reached.

I stopped here for a mint tea or two.

I stopped here for a mint tea or two.

The path then leads over the stream and runs steeply uphill to the right side of the Isougouane valley.

I was getting closer to the mountains snow.

I was getting closer to the mountains snow.

Not sure what the danger is?

Not sure what the danger is?

Nearly there....

Nearly there….

Almost at the refuge.

Almost at the refuge.

Soon the two refuges are reached.

The first sighting of the refuge.

The first sighting of the refuge.

The refuge with it green fields.

The refuge with it green fields.

Arriving at the refuge.

Arriving at the refuge.

Soon after my arrival at the refuge it began to snow really badly.

It began to snow.

It began to snow.

In fact it was really bad….

My mule in the snowstorm.

My mule in the snowstorm.

I checked into a bunk at this refuge and soon I became very unwell due to faulty gas heaters in the rooms held together with duck tape. The smell of leaking gas is obvious as you enter the refuge. The heaters are lit with cut off DIY garden hose held with tape! So much for health and safety here.

After vomiting I decided to sleep outdoors for my own health and soon I became better again. Despite mentioning the gas leaks to the hut keepers, they laugh at me and insisted that I had altitude sickness (AMS)! So much for service. As I said I got better within moments of leaving the refuge so it wasn’t AMS at all nor could it had been food poisoning.

I strongly suggests that anyone climbing this mountain bring a tent and sleep out in the open rather than sleeping in gas fumes with 50 people stuffed into a tiny room shoulder to shoulder with the hut keeper shutting the shutters just to make sure that we all did get either carbon monoxide posioning or carbon dioxide poisoning. Either way oxygen was in a short supply in the refuge. DO NOT stay here and bring a tent instead!

Tomorrow at 5am I was going to start the five hour final ascent of the mountain and the summit.

To be continued….

For more information about Morocco please visit:

www.visitmorocco.com

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