Saturday, 12 September 2009

Summiting Toubkal

(posted a day late due to poor Internet connectivity)

What a day. Really early start at 4am for a quick breakfast, and a planned departure at 4.30am to try and summit Toubkal and get all the way back down into the valley for the night, 2200m below the summit.  We ended up leaving an hour late, waiting out a raging storm, all huddled in the mountain refuge. The climb started well, with all three of us moving strong and fast, in the dark using flashlights. About 3500m, the ground was covered in snow and frost, and the terrain slowed us a little. Ted and I both felt some of the effects of the altitude, oddly Nushi was fine.

From about 3900m though the going got really hard for me, feeling symptoms of mild altitude sickness including dizzyness, nausea, and mild headaches. I decided to press on slowly all the same, given how close we were to the summit. Nushi was having a hard time too, dealing with the fatigue of a steep, strenuous, and relentless climb. Ted was doing great and after pacing himself, got over any altitude effects he originally felt and raced up to the top with Nushi and I following about half an hour later.

4187m, we've arrived! :) We then proceeded to make great time descending, and almost met overall guidebook times despite the setbacks. Literally running down scree slopes.

Stopped at the refuge on the way back for a short break of hot tea, soup and bread before we started the long descent back to the valley.  Utterly exhausted at the end of the day, but strangely not as tired as yesterday. Nobody's 'broken' as such, and we're all feeling superhuman after conquering the highest mountain in North Africa!

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