An easy to read guide to a successful hike to the summit of Mount Toubkal, the highest point in
The altitude is respectable, yet the mountain isn’t technically interesting for most professional climbers. Still, if your goal is to climb the world’s most prominent summits, you should add it to your bucket list!
So let’s say you decide to climb Mount Toubkal. This means that in the near future you are going to take your body to a height of over 4000 metersASL, and in 99% of cases, this will be your first experience staying at such a height. Sounds exciting, right?
Here are some top tips for a safe and successful climb up North Africa’s highest peak.
The number of days required to climb Mount Toubkal depends on the route you choose. Some routes are faster (two days), and are slower (six or more days). The classic route (Imlil – Toubkal Refuge – Toubkal summit) requires two days.
It is best to negotiate with your travel agency and ask them to extend your climbing program to at least three days.
An extra acclimation day will improve your chances of successfully climbing the mountain, and will facilitate greater ease on the summit day. If you climb too fast at high elevations, you may have difficulty with the lower oxygen pressure. You risk altitude sickness, which can jeopardize your journey.
You will have to pay a little money for the extra day, but it is much more affordable to add an extra day right out of the gate than to return to Morocco for a second attempt.
You will also have a unique opportunity to visit local attractions, which are not covered by the standard two day climbing program.
The best route to take is the Toubkal ascent via Azzaden valley. It has excellent scenery and fewer crowds. This beautiful route takes three days and vastly increases the chances of a successful summit.
Take it Slow:
When taking on a challenge like Mount Toubkal, remember the golden rule: “slow and steady.” It may mean a huge difference between turning back early and successfully making it to the summit.
Adjusting to the lower oxygen pressure in the mountains takes time, and it is essential to be gentle with your body. Don’t race to the next campsite – it doesn’t help at all to be first. Take your time and enjoy the scenery.
For the majority of the trek, you should walk at a pace that allows you to carry on a conversation with your team. On summit night, you will adopt an even slower pace, taking a rest step in-between each step to preserve your energy.
Rest-stepping is a technique commonly used by professional mountaineers to help them reach the summits of mountains such as Everest and Kilimanjaro. It really does the job. Energy for chatting on summit night will be sparse, so remember to breathe in through the nose, and breathe out through the mouth slowly.
Train for Your Trek:
Altitude may be crucial in a successful climb, so being fit and in good physical condition is essential.
We understand that training can be hard to fit into a busy daily routine, but when you’re faced with a 10-hour hike up and down Toubkal, you’ll thank yourself for preparing your body, especially your legs.
Here are some tips on how to boost your fitness:
- Walk or cycle to work every day. If this isn’t doable, go outside and walk at least an hour.
- Spend your weekends hiking mountains. Steep mountains.
- If you can try altitude training at a local gym, this would be great.
- Start swimming. When you swim, your body is forced to exert itself with limited oxygen.
Many experts have provided comprehensive packing and equipment lists for Mount Toubkal so we’re not going to repeat these. However, see our top five “other” things to bring, basically to keep your sanity intact:
- Music. You’ll need music during the long, mentally challenging periods. Plus, hearing these songs after the trek will make your memories really awesome.
- Putting your boots back on just to walk to dinner or the toilet sucks, so bring an alternative pair of shoes to wear.
- A solar panel charger. Hang it on your bag and let the sun charge your electronic devices during the day.
- Wet wipes and antibacterial sprays will keep you (relatively) clean.
- Bring a buff – a brilliant multipurpose scarf that serves as a face mask, head band, sweat band, etc. and protects you from the wind, dust, and sun.
Choose a Good Company:
An experienced guide knows how to set the right pace for the group. He or she knows how to notice and treat altitude sickness.
The guide understands how to improve your chances of reaching the summit successfully and safely. Perhaps most importantly, good guides can coordinate a rescue in emergency situations because they have been trained in safety protocols.
It is often tempting to choose the lowest price when making booking decisions. Resist this temptation when it comes to climbing Toubkal.
This is about you making it to the top and coming back home safe and sound. Cheap or unknown companies cannot be relied upon for safe and quality services.
One highly experienced company to reach out to is High Atlas Hiking. The company is staffed by local, licensed mountain guides. Since they are locals, they know the area well and can be sure you’re experiencing the best the area has to offer.
At high altitude, people tend to lose their appetite. Even with the extreme levels of exertion, getting the calories to keep you going can be an extremely difficult task. You can’t let the loss of appetite take you down! We advise you to bring some of your favourite high-calorie snacks for your climb.
High Atlas Hiking will feed you very well, but you may sometimes crave comfort snacks from home. The idea is to pack goodies you will eat even if you don’t have an appetite. Yes, junk food and candies are totally fine! Don’t worry, you will burn off every last calorie.
The treats help provide the energy you need for that extra push to make it to the top. Make sure to pack things that don’t melt or freeze. Chocolate, nuts, hard candy, and protein bars are some of the most common snacks climbers bring.
Getting to the top of Mount Toubkal has a lot to do with determination and motivation. Keeping a high spirit is essential for success. There will likely be a point during the summit attempt where you may feel like giving up.
You might be feeling really sick, tired, and exhausted. Be prepared for that! At that lowest point it is important that you remain motivated, remember why you decided to do it, and stick to your goals to get to the top – one step at a time. The satisfaction after making it to the top is unbeatable!