Moroccan High Atlas Traverse - A World First Expedition

On the 25th March 2017, I departed for a challenging world-first expedition attempt. Here's what the expedition entailed:


• Embarking on a solo, unsupported ~500-mile trek across the breadth of the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco, from the edge of the Sahara Desert to the Atlantic Ocean. (The High Atlas are one of Africa's longest mountain ranges).
• Climbing Morocco's fifteen highest mountains along the way, half of which stand above 4000 metres
• Navigating through vast expanses of land without established trails.
• Carrying all kit and food required for the expedition - my pack will weigh around 35kgs. I will collect water along the way.
• According to my extensive research, this will be a world-first journey.


Several days in, I faced one of the toughest situations ever presented to me in the mountains, as I found myself without water, twenty miles from the nearest known water source having reached a bone-dry riverbed in the heat of the midday sun. To worsen my situation, as I stopped to rest beneath a tree, the charging cable for my phone snapped, leaving me almost without any way of contacting the outside world. I decided to wait until the cooler hours of early evening, when my only choice would be to retreat to the nearest known water source. After waiting for four hours, now badly dehydrated, a unbelievable strike of luck saw two Berbers cruise by in a beat-up truck - they were transporting their mules to the nearst town, Talsint - now forty miles away, and they offered to take me back there.


I rested up for a day and reconsidered my plan, before deeming that it would be simply too risky to return to the bone-dry 80-mile long valley I had been trying to cross. I altered my aim to focus on ascending the High Atlas' 15 highest mountains instead. I began my new challenge with a two-day ascent of the remote Jebel Ayachi (3747m), before embarking on a challenging three-day route across the snowcapped M'Goun Massif. After trekking through a beautiful green valley to reach the foot of the Massif, I made the ascent of the region's four highest peaks the following day, but as I began my descent, I was struck with a severe illness, which I suspect arose from bad water which had slipped through my filtration system. I spent the night vomiting, shivering violently, suffering from diarrhoea, and generally regretting my life choices, as I lay twenty miles from the nearest village, and at 3200m on a mountainside.


The following day, still vomiting all the while, I trekked for ten hours on an empty stomach through 30' degree heat to reach the nearest village. Sadly, this marked the end of my expedition attempt. It took around a week to recover from this illness. I decided to cut my losses, rest, and regroup at home in England, but Morocco remains very much on my mind. There in the High Atlas, there remains unfinished business.



Read more about my journey on Facebook.


Read about my journey here: Wigan Today.


I am raising crucial funds for local charity, Joining Jack. To support me, please visit my Just Giving page.


My immense thanks to my wonderful repeat sponsor, Brick Store, of Wigan , for helping to make my journey possible


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© Oliver France