It's not even six o'clock when I crawl out of the trekking tent. A tin layer of ice covers the moss around it. A long journey lays in front of us and it also promises to be a tough and heavy day. Shall I manage to reach the top of the second highest mountain of Morocco? While it is estimated that over 90% of walkers head to the Toubkal region, the M'goun Massif is a more remote part of the High Atlas than Toubkal. Its highest peak is Ighil M'goun (4068m).
Before sunrise we are already trudging through the loose stones in a straight line. The sunrise first lights up the peak of the Atlas mountains, creeps over the cliff and begins to warm us, then flows to the foothills of the Atlas. The High Atlas mountains are characterised by jagged peaks and steep-sided valleys with long scree slopes. The first hours are more or less easy zig-zagging but once we reach those broken stones we take some hard knocks and my condition is put to the proof. At this point, it quite suddenly starts to ascend very steeply. I see that some of us go for the slanting flank and by every step they take they slide back down again.
I decide to go straight ahead but that isn't easy either. This part of the climb is a very exhausting activity and it takes a lot of energy to get to the brow that also marks the start of a steep-sided ridge. Awfully! I'm completely out of breath and in dire need of water and candy. Now I feel that I haven't done anything to train for this kind of mountaineering. Much to my relief, the M'goun summit is clearly visible from this point. While I catch my breath, the panoramic view steals it again. Some of the surrounding peaks are still covered with snow. We follow the stunning ridge for a further 30 minutes. This stretch of the trek is not for the faint -hearted; at some points the ridge is very narrow and luckily for us there's not much wind. With a last effort I bridge the final steep section of ascent that takes me to the summit and then I rejoin the group on the roof of the M'goun Massif. It's windless and we lay down for a nap in the warmth of the sun. This really signifies the language of silence.
Time for the descend of the mountain as we want to be back at base camp before sundown. We glide over the loose stones like snowboarders do over the ice. My hiking shoes are the ones that are put to the proof this time but the descend isn't without any danger. I have to suffer the consequences of this wild ride. Because my knees have to stand hard, I slow down to relieve them. I also feel a blister coming up underneath my left foot as a result of the continuous slow down. Around four o'clock we arrive back at the bivouac and a refreshing splash in the little creek is more than welcome.
After the evening meal we touch glasses to the fact that everybody has made it to the top of the M'goun but that same night the trip takes it out of me. Or could it be as a result of the stiff whisky we had for the toast? I don't know. Luckily I can find some sleep after all...