- Having spent the last 30 years walking hills / mountains SAFETY is always the first priority on any expedition, but sadly this excursion lacked the very basics. no safety communications between the guides or the base camp. No safety equipment, no evaluation of the participants and their capabilities and why would you climb any snow covered mountain without crampons whether you thought you needed them or not? Overall amazing views of the Atlas Mountains which was poorly led.
Published on: 11 May 2016
We were certainly very concerned to read your review, SS, and I am sorry that you felt the trek was unsafe and poorly led. We’ve been in touch with our local team to discuss your points and we are confident that your safety was not compromised at any point during your ascent or descent on Toubkal.
In general, it’s appropriate to use crampons in deep consolidated alpine snow, not wet slushy snow where you can kick steps into the snow. We provided the previous group with crampons and 2 ice axes but they didn’t use them as the path was well used by trekkers. Lahcen, your Explore Leader, was aware that they left this equipment at base camp for your group as the leaders met half way.
Although there was some fresh snow overnight, it was soft and Lahcen felt that you didn’t need crampons for the ascent. We feel that the ascent was safe and your leader and assistant guide took their time to ensure your group climbed Toubkal using the safest route. This is why the ascent and descent took in excess of 10 hours. We know that other groups also completed the ascent with no crampons that day.
As you’d expect, mobile phone signal is limited on the mountain. There is a signal at the top of Toubkal and at the base camp and the distance between the summit and base camp is roughly 2km. In case of an emergency, the leaders and guides would arrange help from the refuge, which would take between 15 and 30 minutes. It’s worth me highlighting that the emergency procedures on Toubkal are well established and involve leaders or guides from all other groups in the area.
Please let me assure you that we only use well-trained, regular guides who are all qualified mountain guides under the Moroccan Mountain guide scheme. The guides have enough local knowledge to judge the climbing conditions and the appropriate equipment to use, they managed your ascent very carefully and everyone returned safely.
In terms of conducting an evaluation of the group, we make it clear that this is a challenging trek and each participant confirms that they are fit and able to fully participate. Our local leaders and guides are empowered to decline anyone they deem unable to do so. Unfortunately, a member of your group was unable to complete the ascent and we provided full assistance to ensure she was both safe and comfortable.
I do hope that you returned with some positive memories of your time in Morocco.