Heading to the Mountains
After the wedding season in November, we head off for our annual walking trip. This year we decided to go to the High Atlas region near Marrakech in Morocco. Morocco is an exotic country which is on Spain’s doorstep. For a photographer within a two hour flight, the country opens up many new subjects to capture. A different continent with everything which that brings. The faces, dress, cuisine and landscape, along with everything else which you can smell, touch feel and hear.
Using Marrakech as a base we drove for just over one hour to Imlil. Imlil lies in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. In early November the peaks of the mountains are covered with snow but the low lying villages are still clear from it. Equipped with everything you need for walking in the snow we embarked on our two day trek, walking toward our summit of almost 14,000 ft, the highest point in the mountain range.
The last time I walked to the summit of Mount Toubkal was fifteen years ago. If my memory serves me well then the only thing which has changed from those days is an increase in stone huts from where you can buy refreshments and an increase in human traffic. Although there were marginally more people, the last ascent was in September before the snow fall. I imagine in September there were even many more people than even the month of November. Despite this, it was still an enjoyable trek with few people compared to say the Everest Base Camp.
At the foot of Toubkal there are three refuges. Two are relatively new and did not exist the last time I was here. The accommodation is basic, sharing a dormitory style room with fifteen or so strangers. If you’re a light sleeper then this is possibly not the trek for you. Despite the sleeping conditions, the evening meal is hot and filling and the fires are lit and the place is relatively cosy. The downstairs communal areas better than the bedrooms upstairs. They tend to be heated by the many bodies which occupy the spaces.
The trekkers are quick to eat and get to bed. Most choose to wake early and they try to summit before sunrise. Personally, trekking in the dark after a 4 am wake up, to share the summit with many other people, possibly hanging around for the sun to appear, is not my idea of an enjoyable walk. We awoke and were walking by 8 am. By the time we reached the summit everyone had already began to descend and we enjoyed the summit alone. We stayed for well over thirty minutes to enjoy the views and photograph the environment.
Crampons were essential to the gear and they could be hired in Imlil or at the mountain refuges where you stay before the ascent. From Imlil back to Imlil would normally take two days, although two night’s accommodation at the refuge can also be taken. This allows a recovery night after the ascent and descent from the refuge at the upper part of the mountain. We chose to come off the mountain on the second day and head back to Marrakech and civilisation. Both ways have their advantages and disadvantages. If you are thinking about the trip to Toubkal then you can book accommodation here at the base of the mountain before your final ascent.
Here you can view a reportage photography account of our trip in Morocco. Deciding to limit our equipment with just a 50mm lens and a Canon 5D III body, the technique of limiting equipment will focus the mind and project. We hope you enjoy the look and feel. If you want to see more of our social documentary commissioned work then take a look at our Balearic libraries in the above section.https://www.brittonbrothers.com/mallorca-wedding-photography/mallorca-wedding-photography-portfolio/