Mt Toubkal Winter Climb: a week to go

The preparations for my Mt Toubkal Winter Climb are underway!


A couple of weeks ago I went looking for info about the Refuge du Toubkal / Neltner Refuge (3209 m / 10528 ft), which is our base during the ascents of Jebels Toubkal (4167 m / 13671 ft) and Ouanoukrim (4089 m / 13415 ft), and I chanced upon the somewhat swankier Kasbah du Toubkal… which has a weather forecast courtesy of new-to-me for Jebel Toubkal…. and the forecast temperatures were so low (-14, -16) that I wondered for a minute if they were in F not C. It made me realise I have no idea what the actual temperatures were every night in Nepal on the treks there. Not that I was ever cold. Thankfully it’s looking a bit warmer now (everything’s relative!):

I’ve made a note of the website – operated by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, it’s far better than others I’ve used. Here are their forecast pages for:


For both of this year’s trips (Val’s going to be taking us to do a bit of snow/ice walking/climbing in the Cordillera Blanca this summer) I’ll need mountain boots that take a C1 crampon. Having got my head around the boot/crampon terminology, and recommendations from Val to go for either the Scarpa Manta or La Sportiva Manaslu – for flexibility/comfort and for being (relatively) lightweight – when I saw a pair of Ladies Mantas in size 39 in the January sale at Cotswold online I pounced. When they arrived, they turned out to be definitely on the small side, so I headed over to their Leyden St store to see what they had to offer in exchange. But as the man in Cotswold told me “there’s not much demand for women’s mountaineering boots in London”. And thus the saga/quest commenced.

He was able to track down a pair of size 40s at their South Cerney store, and so I exchanged my 39s for the size 40s which would be delivered home. Perfect… until that afternoon I had an email from the South Cerney store telling me that there had been a stock/computer error and they didn’t in fact have a pair of size 40s! Top marks to Cotswold for customer service and effort though.

So, deciding I needed to try a pair of size 40s short shrift (and to find an alternative if the Mantas were to prove elusive) I headed over to Snow & Rock in Covent Garden. More excellent service: they had two pairs of size 40s but they proved too small … Inevitably they didn’t have a size 41 in stock but were able to order me the last pair left in the UK, from their Liverpool shop. They gave me top tips on how to check that the boots fit properly too. The boots arrived a week ago, and fit fine in terms of length but I do feel like I’m walking around in sci fi “gravity boots” they’re that big.

In Hereford last weekend I discovered that Trekkit don’t stock ladies mountain boots either, again because there is no demand for them (which was a surprise). Their superb boot adviser did measure my feet (turns out that in boot-world I’m size 7 1/2 in old money!) and advised using insoles to ensure a good fit for my Mantas. Again the guidance was that there should be a finger/thumb width of space between your toes and the toe of the boot. Stand on your boot insoles to check this out.

I’m looking forward to the trip, with a tinge of apprehension. As always, the holiday sneaks up on you. The plan is to pack next Saturday but I’ll work out how much cash I’ll need before then and let the bank know so that I don’t have any repeat of last summer’s Peruvian Sol shenanigans. Hazel’s even lent me her walking poles…..