Mount Toubkal Challenge
Morocco 5th-9th June 2014
As a lot of you will know my friends and I took on the challenge to trek Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak in Morocco to raise awareness and funds for Motor Neurone Disease. Well we did it!
Lynn Rowley, Susan Lamb and myself first met on our first challenge back 2010 when we embarked on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, since then we have become firm friends. We decided (over a bottle of wine!) in January that we would undertake to trek Mount Toubkal in Morocco in June (MND Awareness Month).
Left to right; me, Lynn, Rachel, Susan
We intensified our fundraising efforts over the next 6 months organising, Chinese and Indian meals, charity discos, bucket collections, bag packs the lot! And the time between signing up and actually going seemed to come and go in no time. Rachel Lamb, Susan’s daughter decided she too would like to get involved and come along with us.
After an early start we made our way to Gatwick where we met up with the rest of the group taking on this challenge. There were 14 of us in total 8 of whom were walking for MND. The day was very long (a lot of sitting around in airports) we made it to Marrakech. The following morning another early start and after breakfast we were bussed up a small village call Imil were we met up with our porters and the donkeys that would carry the food and tents up to base camp. By this time the sun was high in the sky and the temperature was touching 38º!!!
After an early start we made our way to Gatwick where we met up with the rest of the group taking on this challenge. There were 14 of us in total 8 of whom were walking for MND. The day was very long (a lot of sitting around in airports) we made it to Marrakech. The following morning another early start and after breakfast we were bussed up a small village call Imil where we met up with our porters and the donkeys that would carry the food and tents up to base camp.
By this time the sun was high in the sky and the temperature was touching 38º!!!
What followed can only be described as long, hard, hot work! The walk through the trees at the far side of the village although steep gave little hint of what was to come. The climb grew steeper and steeper and the land more barren but still quite beautiful and breath taking.
The heat and dust were relentless as we climbed, but every so often we would stumble across small shacks offering welcome shade and fresh orange juice or coca cola! We stopped for lunch at a small gathering of shelters, amongst which was a shrine visited by locals who place offering asking for help in healing or fertility.
The walk got steeper after lunch and the sun got even hotter! We passed a herd of wild goats which just seemed to appear from nowhere and the scenery became more spectacular, waterfalls, terrifying drops to the valley below and the panoramic views of the Atlas Mountains bathed in sunlight! Breath-taking! As the afternoon progressed the moon appeared so big and close you felt you could almost touch it!
After 10 hours of walking we eventually made it to base camp. Base camp was set up at the Mt Toubkal refuge at a height of 3600m and the sight of the refuge and our small orange tents was quite a relief.
This 10 hour trek took its toll on my back and also the dreaded altitude sickness reared its ugly head! Myself and Lynn did not take to this very well, headaches, sickness, nose bleeds and a lot of effort to breath made it unsafe for us to go on to the summit the next day. Luckily for me in our party was a sports physiotherapist who very kindly went to work on my back which allowed me at least to walk again without too much pain!
At 4:30am the next morning we were all up and Susan, Rachel and most of the rest of the group headed for the summit; again this was a long day for them hot, steep and exhausting. The views from the summit were breath-taking and the sense of relief and achievement made it a very emotional experience for all who made it to the top. Their descent back to base camp was very treacherous; steep shale ledges and paths sapped the strength of even the fittest, happily all made it back safely with nothing worse that bruises, sprains and aching legs!
The next morning we were up bright and early again to dismantle camp and head back down the mountain. All was good until our guide after 6 hours walking pointed to a village at the top of a very high hill and said that was where we were going to have lunch – he was nearly lynched!!!! However the food was fantastic and well worth the climb up then down again!
By 7pm that evening we were being dropped off at the door of a very welcoming hotel in Marrakech and the lure of a shower and a welcoming cold drink seemed to easy the aching joints. But before we could retire to bed, we had a lovely Moroccan meal and entertainment laid on to celebrate out achievements.
So far between my friends and me, we have raised £4,500.00 for MND. The whole experience was fantastic and well worth the effort and we would like to give a great BIG thank-you to everyone who support us in our venture.
— Marian Dent