Approaching the summit, at around 4,000 metres above sea level, the terrain of Jebel Toubkal begins to change underfoot in regular intervals. From rubble covered in a thin layer of snow, to a carpet that graduates in to a low wall of the blissfully white powder. Further on and closer to the peak it evens out once again until there is no snow left but a wide and steep expanse of boulders exposed to the wind. Off came the crampons and our facially ever-reddening guide Omar informed us this was it; the last push. Fatigue had long since set in. The rarefied air coupled with exertion was taking its toll, but we knew this was the moment we had all been waiting for. Funny how once you’re finally up there, the sheer exertion makes it harder to focus on the moment. It had now become one giant heady blur of intensely beautiful scenery, ferocious elemental conditions and jellification of the limbs.
I have never found it so hard to induce motion. Enthusiasm is cruelly tempered by utter exhaustion, necessitating a slow three-steps-rest-repeat walk. I began to think about how quickly each species adapts to survive. It really is a primal urge, and a climb like this brings home to you just how much we are simply creatures, reminding us that no matter how supposedly civilised we may seem, our flesh, blood and bones are subject to forces of nature in much the same way as every other beast on the face of the planet.
Toubkal’s summit top is a place of incredible beauty, or more specifically the views, as you can see from these pictures, which I feel eternally grateful to have been able to take. The scale of it all was enough to render us mostly speechless as we soaked in the endless vista. Our hearts and spirits were truly lifted and it is a moment such as this that we must set in our minds, to last us a lifetime of memories. With a clear blue sky overhead illuminating the Atlas in a searing light that made every inch of the climb worthwhile, this moment was already solidifying as a ballast of experiential gold. It struck me that whilst beach and city breaks have their merits, there is something so uniquely and deeply satisfying and enriching about reaching a glorious peak.
I sincerely hope that all readers will get even so much of a trace of the level of enjoyment from reading these posts as I got from making the climb and I am indebted to my fellow mountaineers for encouragement and support along the way.