Brèche des Clochetons, Atlas Mountains, Morocco

posted in: My skiruns | 0

Initially I went to Morocco ‘just’ to ski on the African continent. I expected bad snow conditions and relatively boring terrain. As low expectations are always a good thing, it turned out I had great springsnow in the tail end of the season, perfect weather and some interesting terrain. The last day of the trip I skied the couloir from Brèche des Clochetons just opposite the Refuge des Mouflons, a great finish of a great skitrip!

From Marrakech I took a taxi to the mountain town of Imlil from where a 4 hour hike took me to the snowline and the Refuge des Mouflons, a nice new hut at the bottom of Jebel Toubkal. Together with guide Ibrahim I had three beautiful days of skiing ahead. Sunny weather, no wind and nice spring conditions offered some nice skitouring. The first day we skied Toubkal and the second day we went up to Ouanoukrim. The first day I had a great view of a couloir on the opposite side of the mountain hut. It turned out Ibrahim had put it on our agenda for the third and last day.

from Toubkal I had a great view of the couloir from Brèche des Clochetons
from Toubkal I had a great view of the couloir from Brèche des Clochetons

We left the hut and within a couple of meters we started our ascent. A direct approach in its true sense. The ascent to Tizi Afella (Tizi means pass in Arabic) made me a bit nervous because it looked really steep from the refuge but the reward had to be huge with an amazing descent. Estimation of the steepness of a slope from the bottom can be difficult as the view often is misleading, so I decided to just give it a go. It turns out it’s a 4.2 on the Toponeige scale, indicating the run is around 40 degrees. Ibrahim led the way into the bottom of the couloir from where you could see all the way to the top. Step after step we created another zigzagging pattern in the High Atlas. Ski crampons were our best friends and the further we got, the steeper it became. Luckily the vertical to be covered this day was ‘only’ 600 meters. For the last part I put the skis on the backpack and used my crampons to bootpack to the top. The ascent was nice and fulfilling and the reward had yet to come…

skiing the couloir from Brèche des Clochetons was pretty good!
skiing the couloir from Brèche des Clochetons was pretty good!

After recovering from the exercise we decided it was time to collect our prize; skiing down the couloir! The snow was absolutely perfect and there were no trekkers or other skiers to possibly spoil the vibe. Going to Morocco for skiing, I expected crappy snow on flat slopes, not an amazing line down a nicely shaped couloir. It simply surpassed my expectations. The first part was relatively narrow and steep before it opened up a bit where larger GS-turns could be made. Finally we had to navigate our way back to the bottom which was directly at the refuge. A perfect example of Moroccan ski-in ski-out!

If you ever consider to go ski touring in Morocco and you decide to stay in the Mouflons hut I recommend to ski this couloir. The big peaks are very nice adventures and offer some good climbing challenges here and there but in terms of skiing the couloir from Brèche des Clochetons is one of the best in that area. Earlier in the season you might be able to ski a couloir directly from the peak of Ouanoukrim but when I was there the snow coverage was too bad. The Tazaghart area offers more couloirs, I might check that out soon…

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