Morocco and Hiking the Atlas mountains

M’Goun Massif

Over the Christmas period and leading up to the New Year, a few of us decided to head out to Morocco and trek around the Atlas Mountains. The M’Goun Massif part. This is about a 5 hour drive from Marrakesh.

We arrived in Marrakesh on Christmas Eve. Spent the day wondering around getting everything ready for the next few days. We basically had time for a quick walk around and a pizza. Morocco is a fairly wealthy African country, but it is still very different from England, or any country in the ‘1st’ world! The markets are an amazing place to wonder around.

We traveled to where the trekking would start on Christmas day, about a 5 hour drive. We stopped off in a town and had a Tagine, a traditional Moroccan dish.

Every night we stopped in a gite, walking from one to another. All the gites and villages were amazing in there own way. There are easy to navigate in between and cheap to stay, you can book most of them online, or just turn up!

We did seven days of walking through the mountains, hills and villages! the maximum elevation we got to was around 3,000m (about 9,800ft). We wanted to go to the summit of M’Goun but the snow and ridge pass was too bad.

There was a lot of gear to take for hiking around for 4 days in Morocco. It was pretty warm through the days, and it dropped cold at night! We hiked through snowy conditions and through dessert areas. So we had to pack for a few different environments!

The above is pretty much all i packed for the trip!

It was an amazing experience, and i would definitely go back to do something similar! Its pretty surreal place to go when you come from England. The mountain ranges and villages are amazing!

Now its back to training for the races! Although i do have 2 winter climbing trips booked in over Feb & March!!

Training & Practice Pack

The trainings been a bit slack recently, but i kind of resigned myself to this and decided to start ‘proper’ training in January. I need to work out a plan for this. Until then i’m kind of keeping my fitness by doing a few runs a week of normal distances (like 10km), bit of swimming, gym work and climbing.

Currently my first run is in May, trail marathons back to back, on Saturday one Sunday. I feel i can ease into my training a little as i have time until the ultras at the end of the year.

So i need to create a plan for my running along with the strength and conditioning for this. Along with a training plan for climbing to reach my goals for this too!

I went for a run on Sunday, this was probably one of the longest runs i’ve done for a while, pretty flat and pretty steady. Felt brilliant doing too, bit sore on the calf muscles the day after though!

On the 24th December i fly out to Morocco to trek up to M’Goun. a 4,100m peak in the Atlas mountains. So last weekend i did a practice pack for the gear i’ll be trekking up with. Things i need to hand, the sleeping bag, spare clothes etc. are carried by the mules!

The main bulk of this is down jacket, waterproofs, crampons, camera and the rest being spare hats, water, first aid, etc.

  • There is an Alpkit 40l bag
  • DMM Cirque Ice Axe
  • Grivel G12 crampons
  • North Face & Alpkit gloves (5 pairs for varying degrees of weather)
  • Paramo Velez Evolution Hybrid Smock (waterproof)
  • Arc’teryx Cerium LT
  • Couple of buffs & Hats
  • Montane Waterproof trousers

I now need to practice pack with all my other gear and my food & snacks!! I’ll have a go at this, this weekend! Maybe a bit late if i need anything as its the last weekend before i go and the weekend before Christmas!

Trips and Training

After the Hardmoors i had a week off and felt good for it. The first run i did was a steady 10miles down the Pennine Way, taking in Kinder Falls and back. The legs felt good, bit tired towards the end. Last 2 miles was a push but it was downhill and on nice flagged moors.

From there i had a trip into the Lake District planned. This was part of the new Trig Ring unveiling on top of Blencathra. And it was also a chance to meet a few people off of Instagram. So there is a Whatsapps group that is full of people off Instagram that are into the same kind of stuff, hiking, running, climbing, anything outdoors really. On the Whatsapp group everyone plans trips and meet ups, kinda cool. Using social media to actually be social!

So my plan for the Lakes was get up there early Saturday morning. Go for a 20km run in the fells, then a spot of bouldering. Sleep in the YHA then on Sunday meet up and head up Blencathra.

The run was pretty good. Started just outside Keswick, up Walla Crag onto Bleaberry Fell, High Seat and High Tove. Obviously  bagging a few Wainwrights along the way! The run from Bleaberry Fell, High Seat and High Tove was pretty much a big fest, and made for some slow running and wet legs!

But i got 20km in, with 644m (2178ft) of elevation, in 2hours 30mins. So considering the bogs and wet lumpy ground i was pretty pleased.

The Sunday was all about Blencathra, we headed up to the top around 8:30. With the unveiling happening around 11:00. The planned routes were up Halls Fell Ridge and back down Sharp Edge. These are two awesome routes for scrambling. And i will defiantly be back up in the winter with crampons and ice axe in tow.  If anyone is heading up Blencathra, take in these two routes.

At the top for the unveiling was Stephen Birkinshaw, he wrote the book ‘There is No Map in Hell’ about his running journey taking in all the Wainwrights in 6days and 13hours. He’s still the current record holder, so i took the book up and got him to sign it!

After that i’ve had a couple of local small races, one being the first Trunce Race and the first Spencers Dash. This weekend i also volunteered for the inaugural Pennine Bridleway 57km. I was one of the race sweepers, it was a really nice day and great route. I did about 30 miles of sweeping, but i started getting a twinge in my groin so i got a lift back while the other sweeper, John, carried on the last 5 miles. So in effect i DNF as a sweeper 🙂 The race was along the Pennine Bridleway through the Peak District, mainly along old railway lines, so it was a pretty flat course.

Next up is the Great Lakeland 3 Day event! Beginning of May, bag myself some more Wainwrights! Although i need to get back into a training routine and sort my diet out. They have both been a bit lax recently!