Sign In:

×

Last Step!

Please enter your public display name and a secure password.

Plan to post in the forums? Change your default forum handle here!

×
×

Skiing Africa… by Mule

Editor's Note: Planet Skier just put out this quick video trip report from one of the most far-flung destinations we've seen from our Stash members: Africa. Taking pack mules up to access the main lifts at a tiny ski area in Morocco, PS scored smooth, velvety pow in a (very large) corner of the globe we don't talk about much here. Thanks for sharing!

Avalanche pack, check. Skis, check. Mule, check. I am sitting on a mule, on my way to the ski slopes in Oukaïmeden in the Atlas mountains of Morocco.

We are here, because Europe had a bad snow year. And I have to say, there is too much skiing in Africa. I was hoping that after Oukaïmeden, Lesotho, and South Africa, I'd be able to cross of the continent as fully skied. But no. There is another ski area in the far-away other end of Morocco, there are two ski areas in Algeria, there is snow on Kilimanjaro, and there is dune skiing in Namibia. Sigh, plenty to cover still.

Oukaïmeden is about two hours away from the city of Marrakesh and easily accessible. It is a busy snow town with tons of tourists and cars on the road. But most of the tourists have come for a day trip to experience the snow, a rarity for the locals. We only saw foreign tourists once. That is a loss, coming here was an amazing experience for us.

The village is fairly basic, with our hotel, the Chez Juju, being a rare exception in providing western-class accommodation. Most other buildings are bare stone huts. The rooms in Chez Juju are basic, but there's wireless that works if you ask the bartender to reset the router :-) And the food is magnifique! The French kitchen delivers amazing dinners, yet in local style. Much recommended.

But lets get back to the main topic: skiing. The Atlas mountains are some serious mountains, ranging all the way to the 4,167 meter Toubkal, visible from the ski area. We skied nearby, in the ski area's backcountry, offering easily accessible untouched snow. We run into a guy at the parking lot who offered to guide us, so for 20 $ we got a guide for the day. The exploration was still a bit unnerving, given that there were clearly some places where avalanches were a possibility. We skied one at a time and passed these points quickly. Exploring the highest peaks far beyond Oukaïmeden would be a far bigger effort, and will likely require you to bring your own guides and be completely self-sufficient.

The most interesting terrain was to the skier's right from the main lift. A set of couloirs and valleys visible from the lift offers a lot of skiable snow. Further to the right a steep couloir leads onto untouched snow fields. It can only be accessed by traversing steep to the right from from the very top of the lift.

Another interesting area is the ridge to the skier's left. This area leads back to the village, and the remains of ski lifts and structures show that it used to belong to the official slopes.

But even the official slopes under the current main lift are decent: 600 meters of difficult, steep, black run straight down.

But the most wonderful thing for me were the views. We were skiing on white snow, while the red mountains and hills falling below us were all red, with traditional Berberianvillages often visible under us.

Oh, and why the mules? The village is next to the beginner lifts, but the main lift is about 2 kilometres away. The most convenient way to reach that lift was by mule. And I wanted to get a ride a on a camel, but unfortunately the camels were only available on lower altitudes.

There are a few additional pictures on the Planetskier's blog.

Play
READ THE STORY
​VIDEO: Rob Gronkowski Joins the Pit Viper Team
Up Next Ski

​VIDEO: Rob Gronkowski Joins the Pit Viper Team

​VIDEO: Rob Gronkowski Joins the Pit Viper Team

This should be music to the ears of all the New Englanders out there. NFL superstar Rob Gronkowski is joining the Pit Viper Experts Only Pro Team. Even TGR co-founder Todd Jones is stoked about it, saying, “As New Englanders, we watched Gronk help us win multiple Super Bowls. It's good to see him out west getting loose with the Pit Viper crew. Hopefully, next time he will come to Jackson and let us show him around the home lab.” From Pit Viper: Over a weekend in March, the Gronkowski family

Play
READ THE STORY
​VIDEO: “Un Skieur en Feu” Is A Stark Visualization of Climate Change
Up Next Ski

​VIDEO: “Un Skieur en Feu” Is A Stark Visualization of Climate Change

​VIDEO: “Un Skieur en Feu” Is A Stark Visualization of Climate Change

Leave it to the French to be dramatic about this kind of stuff… No really, Hugo Manhes’s project “Un Skier en Feu” (A Skier on Fire) is a stark and important visualization of climate change and its impact on how we play in the mountains. Sure, statistics like the fact that the snowpack on France’s Porte Pass has decreased by 40 percent in three decades, the average winter temperature increasing by a full degree, and many more might get the attention of some, but at this point maybe we do need

Play
READ THE STORY
​VIDEO: The 10 Worst Crashes On the 2021 FWT
Up Next Ski

​VIDEO: The 10 Worst Crashes On the 2021 FWT

​VIDEO: The 10 Worst Crashes On the 2021 FWT

Ouch. It’s one thing to be skiing and riding as aggressively as the athletes on the Freeride World Tour, and it’s an entirely different thing to be crashing as hard as they (sometimes) do. Competing at the highest level leaves very little margin for error, and that’s pretty clear if you watch some of the bails from the 2021 Tour. There’s everything from 60-0 in a matter of inches (shoutout Aymar Navarro and that snowbank) to folks going SPLAT off gigantic airs (shoutout everyone else). Hope