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Ascent of Irhil M'Goun on 2011-09-07

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Andrew Tibbetts
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Irhil M'Goun
    Location:Morocco
    Elevation:4070 m / 13356 ft

Ascent Trip Report

We climbed this peak two days after Jebel Toubkal, as a day hike, not having the time or inclination for the usual 2-3 day guided expedition. It is feasible in a longish day moving reasonably quickly. We went from the Gite at Imi n-Oulaoun (N31.37587 W6.50121, 1812m). It would be possible to save 1-3 hours walking by driving the excellent dirt road to Tizguin or even Assaka, or taking the minibus which goes to the last village, at the start of the ascent proper, if this could be arranged.

We had learned from UK based research that there is a surfaced road as far as Taghra, beyond Imi n-Oulaoun, and I had identified a feasible-looking route from the latter. In fact the surfaced road stops a few km short of Imi n-Oulaoun but the dirt road is drivable with a normal car, and we found a gite there, whose owner was able to confirm the route I had in mind and provide advice and additional directions.

Contact details for Gite: Brahim Boukyoud, brahim.boukyoud@gmail.com Imi n-Oulaoun, Toundoute, Ourzazate, Maroc, tel 00212 671 086621 or 00212 671 502268

Tue 5. To reach Imi n-Oulaoun, we turn L (N) off the main road at N31.06368 W6.54954 in Skoura, then immediately R. The surfaced road passes through the large village of Toundout (in 24km) and several smaller villages. Fork L at N31.33910 W6.49630 onto a good dirt road then at N31.37077 W6.50036 turn R (the gite is signposted) onto a rougher dirt road. This had some deepish drainage channels but our hired Dacia had no difficulties. Meeting a sizeable lorry was nearly very difficult as there are no passing places. Fortunately he had only just started up the road and was able to reverse out again. The road crosses a wide dry riverbed. This is fairly uneven but again the Dacia had no problems. Back on the dirt road we soon came to the gite. There was a delivery of hay blocking the road (presumably from the lorry we'd met) so we did the obvious thing and asked about accommodation and about climbing the peak. This was all fine, except it was evidently not ok to drive further. The reason for this wasn't clear but having established that the route from the gite was within our day hiking capabilities we didn't pursue it further. It might be feasible to drive in at first light...

We had an excellent meal (Tagine of course) and made arrangements for an early breakfast.

Wed 7. Leaving at 5 we started in the dark but it was light by 0530. The route is fairly straightforward at first, keeping to the excellent dirt road; having passed through the village of Tazguin we cross to the R side of the river at N31.41539 W6.48880 (deepish ford - may be difficult in a normal car; the passenger minibuses manage it ok).

After the ford, the village of Assaka with its rather grand mosque, is soon reached. Here we fork L at N31.41758 W6.48323, 2011m, down what looks like a dry fairly narrow river bed. This is in fact the road; the main river bed also serves as the road: we saw a blue minibus driving along the (fairly shallow) river on its way down from the highest village. It is perfectly ok to walk up the river bed (we did) but better to cross the rickety footbridge (N31.41887 W6.48398), climb into the village then turn R along the main street which becomes the main dirt road to the upper village. The walk has been quite spectacular throughout, with the river often in a deep gorge far below the road. The road beyond Assaka is no exception, as it rises some 250m before finishing at the last village (keep L at N31.44901 W6.48838, 2270m). At the end of the road, we fork L and follow narrow paths through the village. The way is mostly obvious but be careful not to accidentally visit someone's house.

Beyond the last village the path crosses the hillside to soon reach a major fork in the (small) river (N31.45837 W6.49193). We take the R fork into a deep gorge, following a pretty good path which criss-crosses the main stream. Eventually the path zigzags up a fairly loose headwall (needs care in descent) then doubles back R at N31.46339 W6.49152, heading generally E. It joins a better path which heads E to a small summer settlement (N31.46592 W6.47451; goats and a few people when we were there). It is possible to cut off a corner by ascending from N31.46524 W6.47710, as we did later on the descent. The route now heads N up a long wide reentrant, then turns R up another re-entrant (it is possible to ascend the spur up to the L - harder but giving better views). After crossing a wide contouring track, it is possible to head straight up the re-entrant above, to the col W of Pt 4008 (N31.49453 W6.46235, 3914m); however it is probably easier to ascend R on the wide track then zigzag up the stony spur to reach the main ridge just W of M'Goun Pt 4008 N31.49599 W6.45696, which we visit.

The ridge is very nice: a fairly narrow arete, just a walk with some very minor scrambling. Pt 4008 has about 40m of prominence (GPS); there are a couple more minor tops en route to Ighil M'Goun 4068m (N31.50907 W6.44416) itself, which is marked with a small cairn, and the name and elevation spelled out in pebbles.

We are at the summit in 7h40, rest for 20 mins enjoying the landscape and isolation, then head back along the ridge to the saddle beyond (W of) Pt 4008. From here we head straight down the steep re-entrant: sharp stones, not good scree running but a fairly quick and reasonably easy descent. Once across the wide contouring track, the lower half of the reentrant is easy angled. At about halfway it becomes rubbly and a path appears just to the R. This crosses to the L and merges into the main southward reentrant which leads down to the summer settlement. While still above the buildings we traverse R across a steep slope, cross a low ridge and shortcut onto our outward path, which we follow back down to the dirt road. A GPS trail is very useful for this section between the top of the gorge and the main N-S reentrant.

The sky is mostly overcast for our descent, which is just as well, as the 3 litres of water we had each taken was only just enough for our 12h03 hike. The best option would probably be to take water purification kit and re-stock in the gorge.

We were back at Imi n-Oulaoun at 5 pm and whilst it would have been feasible to drive out to Skoura or Ouarzazate it was nice to shower, relax and get stuck into mint tea and another tasty Tagine. We were plagued by flies during our 2nd night here - perhaps the buzz had got round that there were a couple of tasty baggers in town!

Thur 8. Next morning we drove out to the main road and, having hit on the idea that we might have time for the 2 northern Ultras to complete our Moroccan set, we headed NE for Adrar Bou Nasser.

M'Goun photos
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2416 m / 7935 ft
    Extra Gain:79 m / 262 ft
    Distance:44 km / 27.3 mi
    Route:Southwestern route
    Trailhead:Imi n-Oulaoun   1812 m / 5945 ft
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+, exposed
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:7 Hours 40 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:4 Hours 3 Minutes



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