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International Mountain Leader, Winter and Summer Mountain Leader

Blog for May 23rd, 2015

May 23rd, 2015
Morocco, Chased off the hill by thunder and lightning
Adrar n'Ouhattar ridge and Tameskaoute (3,210m) attempt

In the morning the valley below was in deep mist. It was good to have gone high the night before as it gave a view up to the col where a small pocket of snow on the lip could be seen. The snow would serve as a water source
Early morning cloud in Agounss valley
Looking up from wild camp spot to Tizi Ouhattar
The ascent to the col at 3,130m felt easy as it was overcast and much cooler
Muleteer on path nearing top of Tizi Ouhatter col
Arriving at Tizi Ouhattar looking north
Whilst collecting water from the melting snow an enterprising salesman then appeared from the path below offering Cola and water. It was strange to have had the same coincidence of completing the collection of water just before a local arrived 2 days running
A group of muleteers came along and also collected snow for their trekking group's tea. The salesman was then able to make some sales from the tourists
Distant view of Oukaimeden that would be visited the next day
The plan was to ascend Adrar n'Ouhattar, go along the ridge to Tameskaoute and return the same way back to Tizi Ouhattar col. The snow at the col would supply water and allow me to stay high for a second night. This was going to be a good couples of days with the col as a base

Little did I know what would happen
The initial ascent included a large variety of plants and it was interesting to think that this natural garden was so close to where the trekking group had stopped. If only they had looked around near to where they had stopped they would have enjoyed an interesting area
After a barren path up it was surprising to see the mass of flowers a short distance up the north slope of Tizi Ouhatter even though it would be more exposed than the eastern slope leading up to the col
Flowers on north slope of Tizi Ouhatter
Appreciating what the mountains contain is one of the concepts that was put across in my mountain training, even if the names of plants and rocks aren't known at the time. So this will be a 2 minute diversion if my groups are passing the col
The weather on the ridge gradually changed from hail showers to heavy rain so after a short while sheltering from the rain it became apparent that full waterproofs would be needed
Looking along ridge from Adrar n'Ouhattar with mist forming
Change in weather
Shortly after leaving the spot height at 3,082m thunder and lightning started and was becoming ever closer. It was time to lose some height but it would mean having to go away from the col
A road that wasn't marked on the map ran close to the ridge so it was used for speed. I had seen it in the morning and noticed it went down to Agounns which was close to the days start
Every time it seemed that the storm had finished a loud thunder would appear less than 2 seconds after the lightning flash so I was still within 600m of the centre of the storm
If the storm did stop I'd re-ascend or just camp on the road as it wasn't used since there weren't any tracks or mule dung visible
The storm continued. By now I'd given up hope and decided to go all the way down and back along the valley even further from my staying point so I could stay in a Gite and dry things indoors and have a shower. More importantly a weather forecast might be available
It looked like the road had been made for the power lines running from one side of the hill to the other. This meant that the gradient was very gentle for large vehicles to get up and with the number of hairpins it would take a long time to get down
It had been raining heavily for 3 hours and stones were being washed down in streams plus a small amount of mud was sliding. Since I had walked on the south side of the valley I had no idea what my current route on the north side was going to be like and it gave me doubts as to what the lower paths might be like in terms of landslides
Tea time
Arriving in Agounss I stopped for tea when invited by a local. Despite the remoteness of bringing in everything by mule he had 2 televisions and a phone that had a satellite ariel attached to it

Neither television was switched on but the young boys still found it entertaining by wiping the dusty screen with their finger and then licking the dirt of the finger
Leaving Agounss I took the northern path which gradually descended. Eventually it came to the valley river and the last path marking ended just 2 metres from the water so it indicated it had to be crossed

Luckily the level hasn't risen too much but on the other side there weren't any makings
Whilst I was looking a couple of boys appeared and indicated that the path was in the actual river. I followed them on the bank and after 50 metres makings started to appear again
Marking showing path goes in river
The path skirted the river even though nothing was marked on the map
There was no way of ascending on the other side of the river so I was going to have to go even further down the valley to Timguist which didn't have accommodation shown on the map
Somewhere to stay
As usual, I was spotted by a keen local when approaching Timguist. He didn't indicate if he'd used binoculars (as another local did 2 days before). When I asked about the Gite he indicated to follow him. We didn't go to the Gite but his house that had a couple of spare rooms. Oh well, go with the flow
There were rugs on the floor but no furniture. There was a box that under the dust said DVD. Also a television (just 1 compared to the 2 in the house at Agounss earlier). I had no desire to use the television
A chance to dry clothing
There wasn't a shower so day 3 without washing
Dinner was good, a large plate of couscous and vegetables. I'd only eaten a small piece of bread all day as I didn't fancy cooking in the rain
The toilet was bad. There wasn't one, just his alleyway. I just had a pee
Morning tea was going to be 6 o'clock. Wished that barking dog outside the window knew that