After our adventure in the Sahara desert, Hajar and I got on another van at 11pm and joined a group of merry adventures on an expedition to climb the highest mountain peak in North Africa.

A while back Hajar asked me:

"I'm going on a trip to Toubkal in a few weeks want to join?"

"Yea I'm down let's do it! ... What's Toubkal?"

On the evening we left, I still didn't know what we were in for. I knew we were walking up a mountain but that's about it. Had I known what was in store for us I might have been less enthusiastic.

The van rolled to a stop at 5am in a small village. As we grabbed our bags the first call to prayer could be heard echoing off the mountain walls surrounding us.

Once it subsided, the only sound heard was the crunch of gravel and rocks beneath our boots as we silently trudged our way up the path that would lead us on an amazing three day journey.

Videos:


Our first stop in the morning of the first day. We took breakfast, handed our bags over to the donkeys that would carry them for us, and organized gear.


Nothing quite like watching the sun rise in the mountains.


Feeling the call to adventure.


Locals use donkeys to transport food and supplies to the base camp.

I was amazed when I came across this view. It was the first (cafe?) we saw and I was totally not expecting to encounter restaurants along the route.

Sometimes you gotta stop and smell the roses.

The huts keep supplies cool with cold mountain water ingeniously funneled through punctured water bottles that act as sprinklers. It's also how we refilled our own water bottles.

Lunch with a view.

"Are you taking a video again?" (Yes, I was).

"Are we there yet?"

Hajar and I are among the first to arrive at our lodging for the night. The accommodations are very basic, and our group of 24 sleeps in a single room. I'm grateful for the shelter, and don't envy the people setting up tents outside.

The Summit

After the rest of the group catches up, we take dinner, relax, and get to sleep around midnight.

At 4am the next day it's lights on as we prepare to summit the mountain.

My initial thought was "is this real?"

It was slow-going at the beginning of the second day. We needed to stick together in the dark to ensure we were all on the right path, and the ice slowed us down a bit.

There were a few spots along the climb that tested my fear of heights, but I pushed through and learned.

Smiling because we get to rest our legs for a bit. We would end up spending 6 hours hiking up to the summit.

This was one of the most amazing views ever. Highly rewarding to come over the top of a difficult stretch and be greeted by the entire world.

After we reached the summit, one of our friends unfolded a Moroccan flag behind me as I was making a video of myself.

13,671 feet.

Overall we spent 9 hours on the second day climbing up and then back down. At one point the descent felt like the most difficult part. The top layer of some of the steep declines was nothing more than a loose collection of rocks that would begin to slide the moment you put your foot down. The heat was also bearing down at this point. I got sunburned from the reflection of the sun off the snow.

The snow and ice also caused a slower pace at times but we found some pretty innovative ways of managing:

There's more than one way to descend a mountain

A video posted by Daniel Forkner (@danielforkner) on

Reaching base camp was a welcome relief. We woke up early the next morning and took the familiar path back home.

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