Scotland came first. I got it my way next and we went to Lysefjorden, Norway. Looking for a bit more of a challenge, we went to Lapland the year after and it still wasn’t tough enough. This year, we intend to reach for the edge a little more and try our luck with the Atlas mountains, in Morocco. The intention is to roam the area around the Toubkal and eventually climb it. FYI, the Toubkal is the highest mountain in North-Africa and reaches 4,167 meters. The “other” highest mountain we scaled (of Sweden, the Kebnekaise) is a good 2,000.
We, that’s 5 Belgian chaps whose girlfriends went to school together. 4 engineers and a stage tech: you can imagine the discussions on the way up, but also the solutions we devise to our problems. Once, they involved a helicopter. Which was awesome. From left to right: Cuddly Man, Tall Man, Me Man, Survivor Man and Professor Man.
None of us are soccer fans, or have some awkward passion for means of transportation or Miss October. We get along just fine, which is fortunate considering the lengthy amount of time we spend cramped together every year.
The area we’ll be visiting is pictured to the right , and as you can guess, there’s a lot of up- and downhill involved. I’ll have to be especially careful since I managed to destroy my knee in Scotland (by sitting down, go reckon) and it tends to give me trouble when I’m weighed down. Generally we carry about 15 kilograms each (Survivor Man a little more) but with crampons, pickaxe and other snow gear, we’ll go above that. Perhaps investing in walking sticks seemed unnecessary in comfy little Scotland, but it’s becoming yet another appealing investment.
So yeah. Back when we were about to climb the Keb, some of us were having second thoughts but I was convinced that we’d make it easily, and in fact we could handle challenges far worse than that. Now that we managed to find one, my enthusiasm has waned a little. I still think we’ll make it but it will be a proper test to our awesomeness, and some might fare better than others. I’m not worried that we’ll get home safely, but that it might change our yearly hiking routine.
Like the other guys, I am both excited and nervous to go. But there’s one thing I know: I feel most alive when pushed to the limit and I’ve been known to ask for more after mountaineering through Ireland’s worst winter weather. Any mountain is just a mountain- a steep uphill, without some real challenge in the form of snowfall or stormy winds. They give that extra bit of adrenalin that makes you feel you’re not wanted there.
It’s always a gamble what the weather will be like, but I’m quite sure we’ll see plenty of “ball-freezing cold” up there. The slightest bit of impaired visibility will make this a difficult trek end the sun sets in a flash so if we’re not careful, we can end up in some deep brown snow. I can’t wait.