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.
It was cold now that I was at a higher altitude but I was glad that I had my berber scarf on.
The route from Imlil reaches the village of Aroumd. Here are more tacky (fake) fossil stalls.
After leaving the village soon a floodplain is crossed.
In 1995, a flashflood killed 150 people in this plain.
The route then follows the left slope of the valley southwards.
The path then enters Toubkal National Park.
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.
A mosque was built next to the rock and the whole area is now a islamic holy site closed to non-muslins.
At the village is numberous drink stalls and cafes as well as touts selling (fake) fossils.
This is the last village before the refuge is reached.
The path then leads over the stream and runs steeply uphill to the right side of the Isougouane valley.
Soon the two refuges are reached.
Soon after my arrival at the refuge it began to snow really badly.
In fact it was really bad….
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….
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