OverviewJbel Toubkal is the highest mountain in the Haut Atlas (High Atlas) and N Africa til Ras Dashen in Ethiopia. Throughout the story of exploration by Europeans it must be remembered that some of the main summits of the Atlas, including Toubkal, were almost certainly reached by Berber tribesmen in the course of hunting trips long before recorded ascents began. Two Frenchmen, the Marquis de Segonzac and Louis Gentil, the second a noted geologist, commenced thorough explorations in wich de Segonzac climbed Ari n'Ayachi in 1901 and Gentil came within an ace of reaching the top of Siroua in 1908. Both men continued their work into the 1920s wich resulted in the mineral wealth of Morocco being exposed and developed on a large scale. The Moroccan section of the Alpine Club was founded in 1922 and in that year de Segonzac climbed the Iferouane believing it to be the highest point in the range, only to observe the mountain now called Toubkal was distinctly loftier. An attempt on Toubkal in April the following year was rebuffed by fresh snow but de Segonzac and his party returned in June and got to the top. The height of Toubkal was determined in 1924 and a trigonometrical signal was raised on the summit in 1931. After the conquest of Toubkal in 1923 new ascents in the region followed rapidly as French expatriate enthusiasm mounted. The ranks of the regular Morocco contingent grew to a dozen or more; among the leading lights were J. Balay, L. Neltner, M. de Prandières, A. Stofer, and above all Jaques and T. de Lépiney.
So the first European ascent was on 12 June 1923 by V. Berger, H. Dolbeau, Marquis de Segonzac. At present it's climbed by some 500 persons each year. A landmark was established in Moroccan climbing in 1938 with the publication of the th Toubkal area guidebook written by Jean Dresch and Jacques de Lépiney. It was reprinted with some improvenments in 1942. I have the facsimile of it and it's really a nice jewel of the Toubkal's history, it's written in French with drawings by the topographer Théophile-Jean Delaye.
Getting ThereFrom Marrakech go by car, taxi or bus to Asni (47 Km) on S501. From Asni there are trucks that can take you to Imlil (17 Km). In Spring mules carry to the snowline, thereafter porters could be hired. The trail is normally clear for mules all the way from early May.
Red TapeNo permits or fees required. No seasonal closures.
When To ClimbAll the year but take care, the summer months are too much hot in this part of Morocco. In the Haoz plain (Marrakech) during August average maximums are of 42 ºC / 108 F with 45 ºC / 115 F not uncommon. Add 3 - 5 ºC for comparable temperatures on the S side of the Atlas. Night-time temperatures at 3.000 m in August can be as high as 15 ºC / 59 F. The crucial weather band is above 3.600 m, then temperatures in the early hours of the morning are below freezing point.
Precipitation on the N slope of the Atlas is greatest between October and April. February and March are normally the worst periods. Snow settles down to 1.400 m in winter and in spring retreats to about 3.000 m. From early July pockets of snow remain in hollows and gullies above 3.000 m and by end August all traces of snow may have gone.
CampingRefuge Neltner (3.207 m)
Phone: 21 22 27 00 90. CAF. After Louis Neltner (born 1904). Situated high up the Mizane Valley, more frequented than all other huts and mountain bases put together because it stands at the foot of Toubkal. Warden resident for long periods at a strech and door rarely locked. A solid construction built in 1938, places for 29 in two dormitories with foam mattresses, no blankets. Combined living room and kitchen, calor gas cooking range and utensils. A charge is made for use of same, also for hot water and cooking services provided by warden. Food normally not available, plentiful supply of soft drinks.
Refuge du Toubkal (3.207 m)
Between Summer 1999 and Summer 2000 this new hut has been built near Neltner hut. It takes 86 places, it is just mattresses on the floors, quite cramped and very damp. There is also a kitchen and some dining areas. There are toilets downstairs, however, before March the water supply is frozen for most of the day, so there is no way of flushing them. CAF. Phone: 061 24 65 26 (ask for Mohammed Aït El Kadi).
CAF-Maroc Mountain Huts' Rates (pdf)
Mountain ConditionsWeather conditions in Oukaïmeden, the nearest ski resort.
External LinksMoroccan High Atlas Mountains & Mount Toubkal News, includes weather and guides information.
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