I hope you bought your popcorn, because this story is quite something. 

It all starts off with a plane to Marrakesh. Well actually no, it all started in 2019, before Covid hit. We had planned to try and summit Mt. Toubkal. The highest point in northern Africa. We did altitude sickness training, hiking, and prepping.
Anyway, 3 years later, we were given the opportunity. 

I'm going to skim through the boring bits. We landed in Marrakesh, had a day to explore before being picked up from our Riad (Hotel) at about 4am.
We made it to Imlil, a small village at the bottom of the valley, packed our bags and began hiking to basecamp. I'm going to try and keep track of heights as you read, to give you an idea.
London is 11m above sea level. Imlil is 1,704m and we were heading to basecamp at 3,207m. It's a lot of height change to make with no acclimatisation. 
We quickly began gaining altitude, and the higher we got, the more incredible the terrain got. 

Although it doesn't look like it, it was surprisingly cold, but it didn't matter, this terrain was all completely new to us, and we got to cross this funky looking bridge. Well, actually there was a couple of these.

The walking was pretty straight forward at this point, our guide Hamid, was awesome, we kept at a good pace, but still got to take in our surroundings.
Completely different to Scotland a few weeks prior. (if you haven't read about that yet, go and check it out.) 

Hamid was able to tell us a lot about the land, and kept us on the right track. As I say, this is all pretty standard.
A few hours later, we were ready for lunch. There were lots of small buildings built into the side of the cliff's, each offering a variety of snacks, fresh orange juice and of course... Tea! 

But what we weren't expecting was a beautiful fresh salad and amazing Tagine's. It feel strange eating amazing food half way up a mountain. I'm used to boil in a bag's and chocolate. Not that our spirits were down, but the oxygen levels were already starting to slow  us down, so this definitely helped. 

After devouring the food, and having a couple of glasses of fresh orange juice, we pushed on, as we needed to get to base camp before dark.
It actually felt good to reach the snowline, a change of scenery and it meant that we must be close to 3,000m. 
And there we have it, the first proper sight of the refuge at 3,207m above sea level. I was starting to feel the nerves a little, surrounded by high walls of rock, 7 hours away from even remote civilisation, and knowing I was about to embark on one of my most difficult tasks.
One thing seeing the refuge meant, was rest. We could finally rest for a little.
We ended up sleeping for a few hour before meeting some guys also from the UK, who we would be summiting with.
3:30AM. We began kitting up with Cramp on's ready for my longest hiking day I've ever done. Estimating to take upwards of 12 hours. Maybe this is the moment things started to go wrong, or maybe it was earlier in the night?
Due to the altitude, and light breathing during sleeping, I was suffering from asphyxiation all night. I would wake up choking, and feeling like I was being strangled by an invisible force. 
In order not to worry anyone, I kept quiet, I knew I could do it.
We had a clear morning and very low wind. Perfect conditions to summit this beast. All of us suffering from lack of sleep but excitement, we started to push up the snowing slopes. 
As we zig zagged our way up the snowy path that was barely wide enough for 2 feet, being careful not to look to far down without losing balance, we took a break just as the sun was rising. Were we half way? Not quite yet.

I remember taking this photo, this one specifically, because it is the last photo I took before my conditions turned worse. I say conditions, because I can't really explain how I felt at this point. I guess, Imagine feeling weak to the bone and tired, but your brain knows you still have energy. It is very confusing.

I stayed quiet still, thinking maybe I was a bit tired or nervous.

A few hundred feet later, I realised that maybe things were worse than I thought. If watching Everest, the film,  ever taught me something, don't hide something when you're that high up. If you haven't seen Everest by the way,  I would recommend it.

From that point, the rest of the group and guides helped me out, I believe that they are the only reason I was able to carry on.

Getting even higher, it was the first time in my life that I thought I wasn't going to complete the task that I had set out to do. There have been a few other times that have been difficult, but this by far, tops it.

On top of that,  my water had now frozen in my back pack, so I was not able to keep my water levels up.
As you can see in this photo, we still had a pretty steep climb, before our final ascent to the top. I borrowed some water from our guides, and the guys we were climbing with helped out too, sparing energy tablets and other goodies. 
Once they had noticed that I was struggling, the moral picked up hugely, and this was the reason I was able to carry on. 

A little higher up, I was pushing through, with intermittent blackouts, getting dizzier and getting more tired. Hammid caught me from falling a couple of times.
Why did they let me carry on? I was a danger to the group? If I didn't get to the top, no one was getting to the top... The guides told me that they knew I was okay enough to carry on, I didn't have black rings under my eyes, I was still able to communicate well, and you can also get very bad diarrhoea, how lovely.  
Finally, we managed to summit, at 4,167m above sea level. I thought I would want to cry, but the views and the sheer incredibleness wiped that thought from my head. I was so overwhelmed that I had not only got to the top, but also summited Northern Africa's highest peak. Even sharing the experience with a bird.
We began our decent back down, passing through some very narrow one way stretches, and with each foot, I was beginning to feel better. The differences were like night and day.
On our way down, we stopped off on a flat piece of snow and took in the sun rays. Everyone was quiet, there was not another soul in our view, we were all able to take in this incredible landscape and experience.

It was a well needed break. Summiting was only half of it. We not only had to get back to the refuge, but also back to Imlil. Yeah remember the remote village we started this journey from? That one.
It was great to finally see the refuge again. We headed for some lunch and packed up our kit. We couldn't rest, otherwise it would be difficult to get back up.

But I was feeling completely different, like a brand new person. 
Finally making it back to Imlil, the weather had turned once again. Looks like we picked the perfect time to summit. Heavy fog carpeted the  village.

We would stay the night in one of the locals houses. We had been promised a nice warm shower. It was far from warm... In fact it was closer to an ice bath. So a very brisk cold shower later, I was warming up by an open fire, waiting for dinner. 
And to give you an idea of the sheer size of some of the slopes we were walking up, I captured these images of a man walking straight down. 
Once we had finished our Mt Toubkal adventure we started our journey towards the Sahara desert. I also documented that trip, from start to finish.

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