Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jebel Toubkal Day 1 - Why are those fools carrying skis?

I ski far too much. We arrived in Imlil a small village in the mountains outside of Marrakech, it was raining for the first time on he trip and we were supposed to go for two day hike with more than 2.5km of elevation gain. Living in Vancouver, something was familiar about this rain, and it gave me an inkling that just maybe it would be snowing at our destination. Our host "Lachen" must have heard me thinking because about 15 minutes later a two sets of skiis arrived and you could see dollar signs in his eyes. Negotiations ensued (which like every negotiation in the trip thus far I felt that I lost) and a few minutes later I had rented my second set of skiis in Africa.
Hard fought negotiations for rental skiis with Lachen and his son
Jebel Toubkal is a realtivly easy summit to reach via a two day hike. Day one take 6 hours and up 1500m to a refuge in the alpine that looks more like a castle than the huts that we are used to in Canada. the hike passes through terraced villages full of blossoming apple trees, passes herds of sheep, waterfall strewn valley's and people selling you delicious almonds and sesame seed based treats that are perfect for hiking. In another attempt to save $4 each we were far to stubborn to rent mules to carry our stuff like most people so we slugged our skiis on our backs and started off. I had spent a great deal of time preparing for the bike portion of the trip that it was becoming increasingly apparent that I was not prepared to climb a cold snowy mountain and that my bike gloves were not made for mountaineering. My nerves go the better of me and I purchased an ugly moroccan sweater for warmth from  a guy who called himself the 1st Robin Hood of Imlil (more on this later) As we walked through town everyone starred at us and asked us what the hell we were doing with skis, my shoulders and my uncomfortable Moroccan pack asked me the same thing. But all in all we were happy with our decision!
Where are you fools going with those skis?

The 2nd Robin Hood of Imlil works selling chocolate bars in a small village only accessible by mule and foot, hes not nearly as friendly as the first Robin Hood and seems a bit insulted when you question him about his name. The to this point went well albeit wet, its certainly raining and we have covered our ski boots with plastic bags to keep the water out. We have been warned by hikers on the way down that the snow starts in about 1km and that I should get out of my shorts.

Five hours in we are starting to get pretty tired, winter has come to Africa in april and a part of me wonders if an ice age has started on the rest of the planet. Finally the refuge comes into view through the sleet and we get warm and have some mint tea. The refuge is an amazing placed filled with people speaking all different languages from all different countries. I caught one of the people who ran the refuge telling people that they were called Robin Hood and I nearly flipped on him. We met a group of really kind Moroccan guys who spoke great English and played their version of 'Cheat' with them. The refuge has 6 rooms for sleeping, ours had about 35 people in it, 9 of whoom snored. It wasn't a restful night.

Aziz, Mohammed, Josef, Yunis, Ichem (sorry for spelling fellas)

No comments:

Post a Comment