Schouff schouff

The American guide Doug Workman, armed with his Navis Freebirds, went to explore the Moroccan High Atlas. A curious, remote adventure for experienced customers more used to western expeditions.

“The bathroom. It’s frozen. Go outside.”

I could barely make eye contact when I spoke the words. Our accommodations were more than rustic and some team members were in culture shock, so I threw on my “Jalaba”—a woolen cloak worn by the local Moroccans — and slipped out of the Terkeditt Refuge into the dark to relieve myself on the hillside and take in the aroma of  burning plastic from the hut’s homemade furnace.

Mark Bedenbender

 

Everyone was worked. 10 miles and 5000′ yesterday. Atop the 11,200′ Terkeditt Pass we stopped and looked down into the valley below. Again, hard to make eye contact with the clients as I realized we would not be skiing down, but scrambling through 2000′ of loose talus to the hut below. Win some, you lose some.

Cloudy today. Can’t see the 13,000′ peaks that surround the hut. One person is asking for extrication to the Four Seasons in Marrakech, another is threatening not to shit for the next four days.

Gotta start moving. Things change when you move. It does not take long before we cannot see the hut behind us, as we wonder through the clouds, across the moraines towards Mt. Omsoud, a 12,800′ peak that we spied on the way in. Our skis leave nothing but an etch in the wind-swept snow. A far cry from the powder we were skiing two days ago on Jebel Azourki where we ski toured from a beautiful guest house in Zawiya Ahansal with hot water, private baths, and wi-fi. Terkeditt Refuge sounded like a good idea. Porters and mules to carry our loads to a refuge built by the French during the occupation of Morrocco in the 50′ s. Surely they will have an espresso machine. Not.
I keep looking over my shoulder towards the hut. It is somewhere, back there, somewhere. Thank God for GPS.

Doug Workman & Mark Bedenbender

 

“It feels good to be moving”yells Cliff. Roz and Mark are smiling. Yes, it feels good to be moving.
1000′ above the valley floor and we are starting to break through the cloud layer. Three ridges tower above us into more clouds allowing us to choose a route towards the summit, which still seems an unlikely objective unless the weather changes.

Transition. Crampons. Skis on our backs. Straight up. Everyone feels the altitude a bit as we pass the 12,000’ mark. But the clouds continue to clear and the smiles keep coming. We can now look back into the valley and see Terkeditt Refuge where Mitch and Matthew—who stayed behind to rest after our long approach day—are now teaching Hasaan, our translator/guide, to ski for his first time ever.

The summit comes faster than we expect, but even more startling is the view of the golden-orange Sahara and the powder filled bowl hidden between the wind-swept ridges. We give thanks to each other and to friends and family far away. There might even be a tear or two.

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