African Snow

posted in: Worldwide guiding

This February we made one of our dreams come true – skied in Africa.

The only place on the continent where you can have a good skiing is High Atlas mountains in Morocco, the highest range on the North of the continent. It is divided into three parts - Western, Eastern and Central. In the Western part there is Toubkal, the highest mount in Africa, 4167m. But it is too much popular place with crowds of people. That’s why we’ve chosen Central Atlas and the second highest peak in it, M'Goun (4071m). Besides, the culture and scenes of this region are very attractive.

We arrived to Marrakech, had a stroll by the narrow streets of Medina, watched the night market, and the next morning moved to the mountains. At first, the road was not much exciting, but closer to the mountains became colourful and beautiful. Extremely green meadows, red clay hills with snow-white mountains in background. What can be more picturesque? After a couple of passes we arrived to Zawiyat Ahansal village.

Zawiyat Ahansal was founded in 13th century by pilgrims and is one of the oldest sacred centres in Morocco. The village met the caravan road from Timbuktu through the High Atlas, and became the centre of crafts and cultural exchange. Today it is visited by Muslim pilgrims.

Besides its historical and cultural role, this place is also interesting for skiing. It is only in 30 minutes drive from Azourk mt., 3677m. There we went to ski our first African powder. Generally, there was not much snow on the range, but enough for skiing. We’ve spent one more day for sightseeing in the valley and by night we moved to another valley Ait Bougumez, to the main part of our ski trip.

After overnight in guest house, early in the morning we moved to the direction of Terkeddit plateau, to the foot of M’Goun. We took the path along the picturesque valley which lead to the snow-covered pass 3400 m high. On the way to the pass we faced a real winter snowstorm with a counter wind up to 120-130 km per hour and zero visibility. We mounted on the pass very slowly, hiding faces from prickly snow, with only one thought – here it is, Africa!

The pass is over, and we descend on plateau to the Terkeddit hut, the only building in surroundings. There we spent the next few days skiing the slopes of High Atlas.

At last, we climbed up the M’Goun massif. We started early morning in the dark and by midday we stood on the 4000m. The weather was perfect – calm (rarely for this place), with hot African sun and beautiful clouds. The western aspect got winter snow, to the east started Grand Erg Occidental, the second biggest erg (the sand sea of Sahara desert) in the Northern Algeria. Yes, you stay on the snow and admire the view of Sahara desert.

The landscape was so exiting, that we’ve spent a couple of hours on the top gazing around. The snow peaks told us that it is the place to return one more time in our life. But before, we got a perfect African powder ride!

The next night we returned to Marrakesh, and after the overnight in the cosy riad hurried to Essaouira, to Atlantic coast. Fish market, old town with its entangled streets, seafood restaurant, coffee on the terrace with ocean view and fantastic sunset – that was the great final of our African adventure.

Got interested? Ask us about custom skitouring programs in Morocco.