Monthly Archives: March 2009

Skiing in Morocco, Quotes

“I skied over a cactus today.” – John

“If you want to catch the donkeys, we must go now.” – Guess Who!

“Oh my gosh!” – Christine

“Who is the Gosh you speak of?” – Bjørn

“When I lead the children I like to be far ahead so I can’t hear the crying…” – Bruno

“It’s as bad as it sounds” – Jamie, during windstorm, after coming back from the outhouse at the first hut.

“I think our waiter is from Transylvania” – Bjørn

Skiing in Morocco, part 2 (of 5)

Our Ski Tour in Morocco took us to 3 different major drainages, each featuring
it’s own hut. Part 2 is about our first trek and our stay at the Lipiney
refuge, also known as the Tazaghart hut, next to the Tazaghart Plateau.

Ski treking to Tazaghart.

Our skis waiting for the donkey train.

dsc087871

This is the end of the road, but the beginning of our trip.

dsc087911

Princess trying to keep up with the donkeys, free of the souk salesmen at last.

dsc087981

A tale of two villages.

dsc010141

Photo by pp.

dsc010111

Photo by PP.

dsc088021

I love this shot. All the houses on the red dirt side of the canyon are red. All the houses on the grey dirt side of the canyon are grey. What color house do you want?

dsc088151

Pretty sure there’s snow up there somewhere…

dsc088191

In Salt Lake City, skiing usually starts directly outside your car door. The approach to the skiing in Morocco is a little bit longer. First there’s the 10hr flight to Paris. Then the 1 hour commute across Paris to change airports. Then the 3 hr flight to Morocco. Then a couple days to recover and drink orange juice in Marrakech. Then the drive to Imlil, the trek over the pass, the hike through the villages, the continuing up the canyon a few more hours and then “Voila!” your ready to start skiing.

dsc010181

This is where I really started wondering how we would get past a large cliff band that seemed to block our approach. Photo PP.

dsc08825

Princess below the waterfall that you really don’t want to fall off.

dsc088281

Princess above the waterfall that you really don’t want to fall off.

I’ve thankfully never been on Ciochetti’s Ribbon (a semi-famous, puckering traverse at Alta), but skinning up this thin ramp felt like a mini Ciochetti’s to me..

dsc010191

dsc088321

The Lipiney portion of the trip was a very introspective time for me. I felt about as far from home and the modern world as I’ve ever been. At first, the hut seemed to to be perched in an almost impenetrable drainage, isolated. The picture above captures this mood.

dsc088331

Lipiney hut. Wearing crampons to go to the bathroom is highly recommended.

dsc088361

The next morning we tried to keep bruno in our sights as we went up to the Tazaghart Plateau.

dsc088411

We ascended this amazing, twisting and turning couloir.

dsc088431

John, Caroline, and Scott nearing the end of the winding couloir.

dsc088501

This is on the highpoint of the Tazaghart Plateau, where we found a short couloir down to the main drainage.

dsc088561

Bruno set up a hand line to help with getting over a rocky crux.

dsc010211

This is everyone happily regrouping below the couloir. Photo PP.

dsc088601

The night after skiing the Plateau was incredibly windy. I don’t think anyone slept from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. as we layed in our bags, listening to the tempest and even feeling the floors of the stone shelter shake under the strongest gusts. Trying to make it to the outhouse in the middle of the night was probably my most epic adventure ever. In the morning it was obvious that we couldn’t do our intended route up and over to Toubkal. After a Sat phone call that informed us of a bad weather forecast, we retreat to Imlil throught the howling, angry grey.

dsc088591

Thankfully, the winds died down by the time we reached the waterfall traverse.

dsc088641

dsc088661

dsc088671

dsc088771

Hiking down to Imlil was incredibly beautiful and dramatic as the sun went in and out of the clouds.

Hiking down into Imlil

dsc088821

One of the many beautiful doors we walked by in Imlil. In one of the villages there was a door wrapped in steel that had a very modern pattern printed on it. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the pattern said “sardines”. The steel sheet originally intended to become a hundred cans of sardines looked far more beautiful as someones front door.

dsc088831

Our boots resting on the steps of Amhed’s Gite. His comfortable headquarters (and a steaming kefta tagine) were a welcome change from the stark, cold and wet Lipiney shelter.

On the next phase of our tour, we head off to the Toubkal shelter.

Skiing in Morocco, Part 1 of 5

Powder Princess and Foothill Freak wearing the traditional Moroccan Jellaba cloak on the streets of Marraketch.

Powder Princess and Foothill Freak wearing the traditional Moroccan Jellaba cloak on the streets of Marraketch.

Here it is, the Morocco Report.

Part 1 is about our stay in Marraketch, four days of intense shopping, cooking classes, eating, and looking for the perfect postcard before the ski tour.

The ancient Medina of Marraketch is an amazing place: vibrant, dirty, in-your-face, and it serves up the best fresh squeezed orange juice on the face of the planet. We stayed in a traditional riad, a 3 story structure built around a beautiful, open air courtyard, minutes away from the frenzied plaza where snake charmers have hypnotized cobras and snakes since the dawn of, well, snake charming.

streets of Marraketch

After we first left the airport, our taxi driver mentioned that the road is too narrow to drive us all the way to the hotel and that we

This is the front door of our Hotel. If we didn't have a local kid show us the door, we'd never found it.

This is the front door of our Hotel. If we didn't have a local kid show us the door, we'd never found it.

This is the atrium of Hotel Sherazad. Amazing, amazing place. Go there. (cost us around $30 a night).

This is the atrium of Hotel Sherazad. Amazing, amazing place. Go there. (cost us around $30 a night).Photo PP.

If you go to Morocco, you simply must stay in Marraketch at the Hotel Sherazade. Here is their website: hotelsherazade.com. The peace and tranquility there was a very welcome respite from the crazy streets outside. But eventually the insanity draws you back out…

Walking the streets you have to be careful to not get run over by a concealed woman driving a moped while talking on her cell phone.

Walking the streets you have to be careful to not get run over by a veiled woman driving a moped while talking on her cell phone. Photo PP.

Or a horse drawn carriage, a bicycle with 3 kids on it, a donkey pulling a wagon, a sleek Mercedes Benz suv that somehow squeezed through; you never knew what might run you over next.

Or a horse drawn carriage, a bicycle with 3 kids on it, a donkey pulling a wagon, a sleek Mercedes Benz suv that somehow squeezed through; you never knew what might run you over next.

In the Souks you could find more hats than in the Powder Princess's closet

In the Souks you could find more hats than in the Powder Princess's closet. Photo PP.

The nuts of Marrakech.

We didn't have a problem locating nuts. Photo by PP.

Buying alcohol in Marrakech. Sometimes if you even asked, it felt as though everyone was staring at you.

On the other hand, it was very hard to find beer or wine, especially in the old Medina where we stayed. Even just asking where to buy wine would get everyone looking at you.

Jawa loading a Moroccan Desert Crawler

All forms of transportation are used and over-burdened in Morocco.

If you can imagine it...

If you can imagine it, it

A Spice Souk in the Marrakech Medina.

When it comes time to buy something in the souks, you have to be prepared with nerves of steel for the negotiating. Some caffiene was helpful too.

Here a member of our ski group discusses the price of a carpet with a local Moroccan after a leisurely cup of sweetened mint tea.

Here a member of our group discusses the price of a carpet with a local Moroccan, after enjoying a traditional cup of sweetened mint tea.

Here's the carpet that Princess bargained for and purchased. She was so stern and determined I almost felt bad for the shopkeeper. Almost. Back at home, the Powder Porpoise approved it immeadeatly.

Here's the carpet that Princess bargained for and purchased. She was so stern and determined I almost felt bad for the shopkeeper. Almost. Back at home, the Powder Porpoise approved it immeadeatly. Photo by PP.

Princess wins the culinary adventurer award for eating pigeon tagine. And she's a vegetarian!

Princess wins the culinary adventurer award for eating pigeon tagine. And she's a vegetarian!

The cooking class we took was, oddly enough, one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was organized beautifully and perfectly by an organization called Souk Cuisine. Here is their website: soukcuisine.com

Princess mixes up an intoxicating blend of spices in our cooking class.

Princess mixes up an intoxicating blend of spices in our cooking class.

The whole time we were in Morocco the Princess kept drawing parallels with our experiences to the movie “Star Wars”. She called the Medina of Marrakech “like the cantina scene, but the jawas ride on mopeds”.

Star Wars was filmed in Tunisia. I don’t know what she’s talking about.

Ode to a Whippet

dsc09270(Morocco pictures coming soon, i promise!)

Going up the South face of Little Superior yesterday morning, I decided that the skinning (even with ski crampons) was getting a bit dicey. After a couple short slips, I decided to make the switch to booting. I told the Powder Princess my decision, but she pushed on, calling the skinning “easy and brainless”.

After a fair amount of futzing around with the switchover, and answering natures call, i booted onward. Just as i was beginning to think that I’d never catch up with the Princess, I noticed her suddenly, standing across the slope from me at almost the same elevation as myself.

“How the heck did you get over there?” I asked.

“I just slid here!” she replied, dusting herself off.

It’s a good thing she was able to stop her slide as just 10 feet beneath her, the snow ended in one of the many steep rocky pitches found on the south face of Superior.

She composed this poem on the rest of the ascent: (She determinedly skinned the rest of the way!)

Ode to a Whippet

Oh dear whippet,
How I love thee so
Just to look upon you
Lights my face aglow

A pick, an adze, a shaft of great might
All on my ski pole
Yet, still so handy and light!

Oh dear whippet,
How you allow me to gain
Elevation on snow
And keep me from sliding to pain

And when I set my sights upon that line so steep
Your invaluable company
In my hand I will keep