Hugh Baird College students had a 2,000 mile journey to class last week as they visited the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco for a Trekking Expedition.
Ahead of the trip, the group, who are studying on the Level 3 Outdoor Education course, had researched the logistics, planned their itinerary and learnt about the region they were about to visit and the routes they were aiming to trek. They had also summited several mountains in preparation up to the trip including Mount Snowdon.
The team flew in to Marrakech from Liverpool John Lennon Airport where they were picked up and driven to Imlil, before continuing on foot up to the tiny frontier village of Aroumd nestled on the edge of the High Atlas Mountains. After a traditional Tagine dinner, the group retired for the night.
Tuesday saw the students follow a stunning 12km trail to the mountain hostel at an altitude of 3200m. After trekking all day through the foot-hills of the Atlas Mountains, steadily gaining height with each step, by the end of the day, the students were delighted to see the hostel and dinner.
An early start on Wednesday saw conditions looking good, around minus 6 degrees on the summit but with light winds and clear skies. The group committed to the ascent of Mount Toubkal (4167m), the highest mountain in North Africa. It was tough going at times with some difficult route finding and the slowing effects of altitude starting to kick in. The team steadily made their way to the Tizi n’Toubkal pass at 4000m, from where they saw their first panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountain Range and the Sahara beyond. With another final push, the whole team successfully summited the highest mountain in North Africa! A fun and challenging descent followed, and they enjoyed a well-earned rest back at the mountain hostel.
On Thursday morning, the group were feeling strong as they began their descent and journey back towards ‘civilisation’. They made their way through breathtaking views, roughly following the beautifully clear n’Ouagounss River. They took in a stop at the tiny settlement of Sidi Chamarouch where they chatted with the Berber people and bought some locally produced Berber clothing. They continued their descent in good time giving them a chance to relax and explore the small markets before enjoying some more local Moroccan cuisine.
Speaking after touching down at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Level 3 Outdoor Education student Jack Lyon, said:
“The trip was a fantastic experience that enabled us to put loads of what we’ve learnt on our course to good use.”
“The work we did before the trip on planning our itinerary really paid off and made sure we got the most from the trip.”
“The best thing about the trip was the people of Morocco. They were so friendly and made us all feel very welcome. It was a privilege to visit their beautiful country.”
Hugh Baird College Outdoor Education Tutor, Michael Alexander, who accompanied the students on the trip and is an experienced mountain leader, explained:
“This expedition is a great opportunity. It provides our students with an invaluable practical insight into planning adventurous overseas trips. It is a special part of an exciting study programme for young people who are active and love the outdoors.”
“This trip opened the learners’ eyes to what the world has to offer. They have been a credit to the College. They stepped up to the responsibility of organising the trip and fully embraced the culture of Morocco.”
“We have plenty of other activities planned for the forthcoming year including climbing, kayaking, gorge walking, mountain biking, coasteering and more trekking expeditions, including the Welsh 3,000s Challenge – all of the mountains in North Wales that are over 3,000 feet.”
If you would like to follow in the footsteps of Hugh Baird College’s intrepid adventurers, take a look at the Outdoor Education course here, or phone 0151 353 4444 for more information. Applications for Outdoor Education courses starting in September 2018 are now open.