Ascent of Irhil M'Goun on 2017-10-06

Climber: Richard Mclellan

Others in Party:Denise Mclellan
Date:Friday, October 6, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Irhil M'Goun
    Elevation:13356 ft / 4070 m

Ascent Trip Report

From Skoura we take the P1502 road to Toundoute, a straight forward and scenic drive of 46km the first 42 of which have a single track of tarmac. The final 4km crosses a dry river valley before a narrow switch back climbs steeply into the village. We stay at the well signed Gite d'etape Imin'oulaoun, there's room to park 1 or perhaps 2 cars at a squeeze on the roadside. The Gite offers basic accommodation, hot shower and Brahim provides us with tasty chicken tagine dinner, it's here we stay the night. Good views from terrace include the impressive Kashbar.

The next morning we're positively encouraged to drive to 'Imdras'at the road end, a further 12km up the valley. Another tremendously scenic route with challengingly narrow squeezes between village houses where vehicles were never intended to be, the final 200m are the worst and if you could arrange somewhere to park at the start of Imdras it would be easiest to walk. We make it to the road end where we have no problem negotiating to leave our car at the only house with a drive. We follow the track from the end of the road across a gully and up between houses but miss the unobvious turn left on open shoulder ~100m past the gully and continue on the gently rising track through the farms. Realising our mistake we cut up left soon joining the excellent donkey track which in 2hours arrives at the 2850m farm community (Bergerie) of 'Tishkee' where we select ourselves an empty stone house for the night and collect fresh water from a gushing leat. We are soon met by locals who consider our choice of home a poor one pointing out a crack in a beam supporting the roof of stone slabs and we are soon found another safer abode. Everyone very friendly though we can only communicate in a few simple words of French, we are watched with interest as we prepare dinner the women highly amused and most unimpressed by the slow speed at which Denise chops an onion. We are offered round breads. Daylight fades with the rumble of thunder and flashes of lightening flicker through the darkness.

Depart 07:00 the next morning just as it's becoming light, follow valley NE (best to keep in bottom of the valley - not as our GPS track which takes the SE slope). Valley narrows and we arrive on sparsely vegetated plateau at 3400m. Way on is easy ground to the prominent col in the ridge line. A significant track crosses the col but we take the path E along the ridge line - a most excellent route. Thunder crashes a long way off to the NW and dark clouds rapidly build. We pass a group of walkers from the Czech Republic descending their guide concerned about the weather. Easily up to the first peak with summit outcrop (Little M'Goun?) and on along the easy ridge line, the storm now to our N, the summit of M'Goun still in sunshine rising into blue skies. We cross 'Middle M'Goun' skies darken, the smell of Ozone fills the air and as hairs begin to tingle we drop down from the ridge line and hunker down on the scree slope. Thunder cracks around us accompanied by almost simultaneous flashes of lightening. Another pair from the Czech party have taken refuge behind a low crag a little way off. The air fills with hail and we wait out the storm. After 40 minutes with no sign of the storm abating we decide to descend, fast scree down to a path then rapidly losing height we make our way to the farming community of Tanagusht. The previously red rock strewn hillsides now transformed white with snow and swirling streams of deep red muddy water surge down the previously dry vallies. We take refuge in a stone hut in the village the storm subsiding having lasted 3 hours. Again we are quickly visited by a local farmer keen to offer us round bread.

We depart 04:30 the next day in bright moonlight under cloudless dark skies, +1degC. Retrace our descent route to the shoulder of Middle M'Goun from where we watch the sun rise and in its orange light climb the shoulder (easier ascent option than the scree we'd descended) until able to traverse E to regain the ridge and continue on the good path to the summit. Superb views of ridges white with fresh snow.
Descend back to Tanagusht then along the N side of the fields to pick up the vague and complex path back to Idras (Initially keep high and well to the N of the true river valley until in a steep valley of scree) The path becomes more discernable as you descend and culminates in collapsing zigzags down a steep wall of scree. Once in the base of the deep valley the going is easier and turning a bend the green fields of Imdras come suddenly into view.
Our departure from Imdras is hampered by the just wide enough road having been dug up to repair a water pipe. A bridge of rock slabs is quickly constructed over the trench and we are on our way. A memorable ascent.

By chance we meet up with the Czech party 3 days later and hear how the pair above us had sat out the storm for 3 hours before being able to follow the ridge back to their camp at Tiskee and that during our 2 days on the mountain the Berber herdsmen had always been aware of where we were and had been keeping a watchful eye on our progress.

Storms apart, the clockwise circular route from Imdras makes for a very rewarding trip, an easy afternoon ascent to Tishkee, night in high Berber farming community then reasonably easy day up to M'Goun via the W ridge then descent to Tanagusht and back via the gorge.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
View W from summit of Ibhil M'Goun (2017-10-06). Photo by Richard Mclellan.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Hut Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Cool, Windy, Overcast
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Richard Mclellan
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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