Tag Archives: mountaineering

How we hiked up Mount Toubkal without a map

“Did anyone bring a torch?” I heard Kristina saying, although I could barely make out her features in the surrounding dusk. It was around 8pm, and the sun had well and truly set by this point, so we were trudging along in the dark. We had almost got to the end of the rocky mountain path, but we still needed to trek across the plateau at the foot of the path leading to the village, and we could barely see a few feet in front of our noses. It turned out that between seven of us, we only had two torches that were strong enough to make any difference…

This was of course not the only rookie error we made on the two day trek up and down Mount Toubkal – at 4,167 metres the highest peak in the Moroccan Atlas mountains, and all of North Africa, for that matter.

We also didn’t bring a map, apart from a printout of a blog post I found online (which I thought gave pretty clear directions to the top!). And we didn’t even consider hiring a guide with a mule to carry our stuff or lead the way. I don’t think anyone had a compass, either.

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Don’t look down! My first via ferrata

As I look up all I can see is metal staircases, stretching up seemingly right up towards the sky. I’m in the middle of one of them, gripping so hard my knuckles are going white, as I re-clip my carabiners onto the next chain. Click one. Click two. Phew…safe.

Ferrata ladder

Via ferrata is not for the faint of heart – it’s an experience that requires a bit of a head for heights, arguably to a greater extent than “proper” climbing. Some via ferrata have a great deal of exposure, and falling off is really not the best idea, despite being protected along the way.

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Addiction to adventure: in love with the pain

Every step I take up the steep winding steps sends shooting pains up my knees and thighs, and the worst thing is I know it will hurt twice as much on the way down. But I can’t help laughing at the crippled predicament I’m in, that we’re all in.

Slowly we shuffle up the staircase, wincing every time we put weight on our tortured limbs, all the time wide ecstatic smiles dancing on our faces. We made it to the top of North Africa yesterday!!! What’s a few extra flights of stairs?

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‘Because it’s there’: Everest review

In 1923, renowned British mountaineer George Leigh Mallory was asked “Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?” His reply was: “Because it’s there.”

Stories of Everest climbs are no longer as scarce as they were in Mallory’s days, but few are as heartwrenching as the account written by Jon Krakauer after the expedition in 1996, which turned out to be one of the most memorable disasters in the mountain’s recent history.

Not that there have been few of those: the mountain has claimed over 250 lives since people began trying to scale its peak. But I guess the story told by the film, based on Krakauer’s famous book Into Thin Air, is the best known from that era (that’s what happens when you take a journalist on an expedition with you!).

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