Marrakech to Imlil ( 1740 mtrs )We took a Grande Taxi from Marrakech to Imlil, we arranged this through the Riad we stayed at in Marrakech. This ensured that the taxi driver didn't pick up additional fares along the way and a price was agreed beforehand.
If you don't mind additional passengers getting in and out along the way then you'll get a cheaper fare. Cheaper again would be to get a bus to Asni then a taxi onto Imlil.
We left Marrakech at about 10am for a 1 & 1/2 hour drive to Imlil. This is a real white knuckle ride as everyone drives extremely fast and love to overtake, whether on a blind bend, hump or otherwise. On arriving at Imlil we were accosted by the usual men selling a variety of wares from pieces of crystal to the obligatory slippers. Usefully they also sell water / chocolate / maps / bread etc. The map we bought was a 1 : 50,000 scale and did not prove particularly useful along the way. There is a cicerone guide available that was useful to us.
These guys can also arrange for mules to carry your rucksacks and other equipment up to the Toubkal refuge. All the salesmen are persistent but not threatening we bought what we needed then made off quickly along the road out of Imlil.
Imlil to Sidi Chamarouch
We left Imlil at about 1215pm taking the road to the right of the main square this leads to a number of switch backs and turns, passing a few buildings before reaching a driveable road. We followed this road before passing the town of Aroumd to the left. Don't go to Aroumd but continue on the road until you see a track leading away on the left towards a river and into the main valley.
You'll have to find a suitable place to cross the river, there are some stepping stones but depending on the time of year will determine how useful they are. I did get wet coming back. Its useful to follow any locals or mules being lead along this track.
After crossing the river follow the left bank until you see a path leading up the left side of the valley. Continue on this well worn path for about two hours until you see a large white painted boulder. This is the temple of Sidi Chamarouch. Cross the river again onto the right hand bank and climb the slope towards the stalls and huts. There is limited accomodation available here although expensive for what you get. The stalls sell tea, water, chocolate, slippers and crystals. If you're planning on a break then I' take it just past Sidi, as If you stop near the temple you'll get bothered again by salesmen.
Don't plan to buy anything here as it's v expensive compared to previously at Imlil.
Sidi Chamarouch to Toubkal refuge[img:246074:alignleft:small:Toubkal Refuge]
Follow the track now on the right hand side of the valley away from Sidi. The path now becomes quieter as only hikers and climbers go on from the temple.
The path continued to be well worn and obvious and about two hours later we reached the Toubkal refuge.
On arriving at the refuge we changed our boots into the flip flops provided and were shown to the bunk room. This room had bunks for about 30 persons. The hut overall was in good condition but was freezing cold. There was a fire and heaters but none were in action.
At about 7pm the guardian served either Tagine (stew) or Spaghetti Bolognaise (vegetarian). We opted for the spaghetti which was plentiful and very welcome. Only tea was available to drink and this is nothing like british tea, being a very sweet honey like concoction.
During the evening meal it was good to share plans with other climbers and discuss experiences. We met Dave and Tim who we agreed to climb with in the morning ( safety in numbers ).
We turned in about 9pm, mainly to get warm and because of the early start the following morning. Unlike some alpine huts the Toubkal refuge do not supply any bedding. The room was a bit warmer as more people turned in. Due probably to the altitude and the snoring the sleep was fitful and it was good to get going in the morning.
Toubkal Refuge to 4115mtrs[img:244963:alignleft:small:Lyns and Tone at 4115mtrs][img:244950:alignleft:small:4115 mtrs][img:244964:alignleft:small:en route to summit]
We awoke about 6am the following morning and made it downstairs for breakfast, this consisted of bread and jam and the sweet tea again. Although some coffee was available. Bad news was circulating at breakfast about rain and high winds. Many of the occupants were either going back down or amending their plans.
We gave it until 0730 before we set off towards the summit, by this time the rain had stopped and the sky had cleared. The wind did feel quite high but the sheltered nature of the valley protected us from this. High up we could see the wind whipping up spindrift into the sky from the high peaks.
All the same we walked out with the intention of going until we felt it unsafe.
From the Hut we wore crampons and carried our ice axes. We felt these were more than necessary and wouldn't have climbed further without. From the hut you drop back down to the river and cross it again at an easy point. From there it is basically a slog up relatively steep snow slopes, past boulders and rocks and into a wide pass.
Once you've gained the pass you enter a wide cwm were ahead is another shallower slope. We climbed this slope heading left towards the top and towards a large rocky outcrop ( mistaken by us for the summit ). This outcrop was at 4115mtrs an some 50 mtrs vertically from the summit. On passing this rock the summit pyramid was clear and was covered in horizontal icicles. We felt we had come far enough as once we left the shelter of the outcrop the high winds hit us. Whilst we only had to cover a short distance it would have been along a windy ridge that just wasn't worth the risk.
Once we made this decision we took some photos and met a German couple and their Moroccan guide who had caught us up. They considered our decision and also turned around.
We traced our route back to the refuge, were we payed our bill and collected the kit we had left there. The walk back was basically a long downhill slog retracing our steps.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would go back again. although I haven't been I would avoid Toubkal in Summer due to the screes you have to negotiate from the refuge and also because I prefer winter.