Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve 2010

Well New Years Eve could not possibly be routed in reality without the Radio 4 yearly review programmes. Right now I'm sitting here in beautiful Kasbah du Toubkal listening live to the News Quiz of the Year 2010.

Now as any loyal Radio 4 listener knows this shows a fine sense of priorities. Later there will be some less important items like some food, a touch of alcohol and possible a New Year countdown.

So the final blogpost report for 2010 is that we have had a Splendid time at the new Years eve dinner at Kasbah Tooukal. A great amount of tasty food was provided and this was matched by our own pre-selected and purchased wine supply.

There is a pre dinner meeting in the panoramic upstairs room. Glenn is chief firestarter.

Our meal is delicious as usual. For the first time (save Crispy Duck) Marcus enjoys a portion of canard which is edible.

And let the drumming begin.

Ania is doing some important work here

After over 2 hours of loud drum banging, both girls begin to get distracted.

the iPhones are set to countdown to the New Year. Of course since the iPhone is infallible, well 2 phones can't possibly be wrong, right?

Approaching New Year, full audience participation is required.

That is it. New year 2011 has arrived.

A rather extended local drumming ceremony of over two hours followed dinner after which we completed a more European ceremony by hailing in the New Year of 2011 using the Mylo remix of Rock the Kasbah. Hello 2011 :-)

New Years Eve Climb

You might have thought that Thursday's mountain ascent of Toubkal and subsequent descent had worn us out. However the recuperative qualities of a large dinner or breakfast at Kasbah Toubkal should not be underestimated.

Eventually we got ourselves together and performed a challenging 4 hour mountain hike.

Let us start with the above fantastic apartment Outkal1 at kasbah Toubkal that gave us a sound sleep and preparation for our hike.

Upstairs, guard kitty was saying to me "So I presume you are going on a long hike?"

We studied the map in reception again. From past experience this week it looks easy but actual navigation is more difficult. In December we even visited Stanfords in London and bought a detailed map of the area but again routes are not obvious.

Just past the Kasbah is the local carpet salesman to tourists

We reach the town of Imlil

I presume an intentionally comical advertisement

Local Clothes drying next to the chickens

We start the ascent

Agata finds a Ladybird

We figure out the webs around trees are actually spun by caterpillars

Marcus decides to take a closer look

Inside are a scary collection of tens of squirming caterpillars. Shortly afterwards we run away :-) There are at least 100 webs around us, this means over 2000 caterpillars.

Further climbing reveals goats on the edge

Agata and the view

We stop for a lunch of dried fruits and water

This was the peak of our climb today. Little did we know that our descent would be rather tricky.

The mountainside contained a lot of loose rock combined with a variety of barbed plants. A very bad combination.

Marcus had his lightweight but completely tread-less Salomon Slab-3 shoes. I had to navigate down rock by rock. First foot to a rock. Then step down and grab that rock with my hand. Stop, look for next rock to place foot on and repeat the process. Luckily I had my gloves, still the descent of this peak took ages!


Giant Ania, tiny Marcus

There is a Jedi shepherd on the opposite ravine. What you see is a horizontal track on an almost vertical rubble filled mountainside. His goats have run away and upwards and shepherd was shouting and throwing rocks at the goats to get them down. Unfortunately it just made them climb higher.

Darkness approaches

We could not agree on what the black roof panels were. Solar panels, water heating panels? But for sure a very fancy house.

The scary tree

At last at the bridge close to the Kasbah. We could navigate back from here in the dark.

Today we found out that tipping kids or street guides is to be discouraged. You see here some example notes. 100 Moroccan MADS is about 10 USD. Today then we managed to keep our money in our pockets.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Toubkal Ascent

So today it is a cold Thursday December 30th and we are about to climb Mount Toubkal. This 4167 metre peak should not be that difficult but already I fell some mitigation's arriving in case of a problem:

Firstly Marcus had a total of 0 hours and 0 minutes of sleep because our shared dormitory was also playing host to the worlds loudest snorer. I actually mentioned this unwelcoming unknown companion to a fellow traveller by the fireside and he mentioned he also unhappily heard the guy and he was in an adjacent dorm (i.e. behind 2 sets of closed doors).

Next, the weather is really cold. I had a fantasy of making the ascent without Crampons and using my Salomon race shoes but already the snow and wind and ice make this unthinkable. Back to the lightweight Salomon boots and the hire crampons. Eeek.

So at an early 08.00 we set off ...

We are almost half way there, here is Ania and Glenn clearing this mini peak

Marcus's crampon works loose so it is gloves off (brrrrr cold) and an emergency restrapping.

Some Great Views

Ania is practically dancing

Nearly there, stopping for a rest

Close to the summit a guide asks for .... a cigarette!

Only 15 minutes away

Is this the summit?

Summit views

Girls on Top

Agata, Marcus and Ania reach the Summit

The way down at last. Into the wind, means initially so cold all 10 of Marcus's fingers lost sensation. (Lightweight gloves to blame).

As we got lower temperatures rose and we got the opportunity to run down in the Fresh powder to the side of the well trodden tracks. Fantastic!!

Agata and Ania posing

We stop back at the refuge for 2 hours to eat lunch and change into something more comfortable. Now it is time to walk back the 15Km or so back down to our Kasbah.

The initial route back towards Imlil was still snow covered and icy, necessitating some care since it was downhill and Marcus and Agata were carrying all their gear.

Only about 2Km from our Kasbah and darkness is about to set it. We pass a Jedi with his sheep.

Back to our room and there is a large collection of wet clothes, soaking wet boots but also happy smiling faces.

Finally back to the Internet zone but kitty is interfering with my Blogging efforts