College student treks Atlas mountains, part 2

College student treks Atlas mountains, part 2

Day 3 

Start point: Tarkeddit Plateau – 2910m
Camp 3: Azib Tifratine/Oulilimt – 2100m
Temp: 25-35c
Distance: 32km
Time: 10.5 hours 

We left camp at 4.00am, under a sky beautifully clear and full of stars, with the first glimmer of light just showing on the eastern horizon. It was a magical beginning to our day, with stars so bright that I could switch off my head torch as we began the long slog up to the ridge line. When we reached it, I could hardly believe my eyes. Looking back we could see our previous two days of walking; looking forward was the massive bowl shaped ridge that held the summit at the end. It seemed impossible that we could reach it that same day. I felt really very small.  

Eventually we summited at 9.00am, after a battle with the winds. Both sides of the ridge had drops of around 800m on either side, and the wind had constantly clawed at my rucksack. I was rewarded by the most incredible views of the Draa valley, melting into the Sahara desert in the distance.  

We had wrapped up tightly, wearing gloves, even though it was not cold, and were lucky enough not to suffer from altitude sickness. After drinking plenty of water the day and night before, we were conserving water for remainder of our harsh journey – beginning with an alternative route down from the summit. Rocky and zig-zagging, this route was harder than the ascent: steep, unstable and agony on the knees and thighs. It took another 5 hours to reach our next camp, where the most amazing and unexpected sight met us: animals grazing in a grass covered valley bottom. Cut in half by a freezing mountain stream, this valley really was a land that time forgot, where Nomads had settled and remained for thousands of years. 

Day 4 

Start point: Azib Tifratine/Oulilimt – 2100m
Destination: Tabant 1850m
Temp: 30-40c
Time: 5.5 hours 

It was a memorable departure from camp at 5.00am, when the colours of the dawn light where thrown across the rocks. Before heading down, we had one more pass to negotiate, where the views of the whole of Ighil Mgoun massif were revealed in the morning glow. It was a truly splendid way to exit.  

In total, we had trekked 70km up and down the Mgoun massif. We returned to humidity and civilisation, to be met by a vehicle. Food and sleep were the priority as our next leg of the journey began: a 5 hour car trip to Toubkal, where beds and showers awaited at the Kasbah De Toubkhal.  


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