Summiting a Mountain with Nicole

Summiting a Mountain with Nicole


This past October, Great Point Properties agent Nicole Bousquet crossed off a long-time bucket list goal: summitting a mountain. It moved up the list rather quickly, realizing she might not have an opportunity like this again when a few of her Dutch friends invited her to join them in ascending up the north face of Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in north Africa.

As she only agreed a few months in advance, Nicole got right to training. She broke in her hiking books at Sandford Farm and Altar Rock, made sure she had all the right equipment, and was ready to go!

A day and a half before the start of the climb, Nicole arrived in Marrakech where she met up with the group she would climb with and explored the colorful souks, busy square, and delightful restaurants of the ancient, bustling city. The time had finally come for her to begin her journey, and meet her guides. Berber Mohammed was her main guide, Berber Nordin was the second in command, and another Mohammed toured with them as the cook, along with 5 mules and handlers to carry the group's packs, the freshwater supply, and the provisions required to nourish the group for the five-day journey.

Follow Nicole’s day-to-day journey through her daily remarks, and don’t miss her plan for next year!

Day #1:

We drove 2 hours from Marrakech (500 meters) to reach our starting point, Okajmden ski station (2600 meters). After meeting our mules and handlers, we walked up to Tizi N'addi pass, about 2900 meters in height.  To help with the gradual altitude acclimatizing, we then walked down into Tachddirt Valley (1800m in height), and spent the night in a rustic “guest house.” The walk took about 5 hours of gradual incline on rocky rubble terrain, with a stop for a picnic lunch along the way.  These lunches prepared by Mohammed consisted of beautifully composed salads and a warm tagine…couscous and vegetables cooked in the traditional Moroccan cone-topped pot on a camp stove. Delish!

Day #2:

My legs, feet, and favorite boots were holding up nicely after the first day, so our hike to Tachddirt (1800m) through Aguersiwal (2000m) and Matat (1400m) was slow but painless.  The natural beauty of our mountain surroundings was spectacular, and the many Berber villages spotting the landscape were truly enchanting.  Villagers would peer out doors and windows as we walked single-file through the occasional village main street, and mischievous children would follow behind us from time to time, curiously giggling and hoping for treats.  The walk took 5 hours, with another picnic lunch al fresco on the way.  Our evening stay and dinner in another rustic “guest house” completed the day. Some good stretching on the patio was definitely in order before bed that evening!

Day #3:

From Matat, we hiked up to Tizi Oudid (2200m), and down to Azzaden Valley.  After passing through a few villages and taking our picnic lunch by the side of a river, we hiked up again to Tamsoult refuge (2250m).  We were now staying in mountain refuge accommodations, with limited electricity, and large rooms stacked wall to wall and floor to ceiling with bunks.  Our group of 8 managed to have one room to ourselves for the night.  Very cozy!

Day #4:

Day four got serious.  We passed next to Igholidn waterfall and ascended higher to Tizi Ouguelzim pass (3600m), with a breathtaking view at one point of the snow-capped Toubkal peak, the purpose of this trip. We marched down to reach Nilter refuge (3200m) for the night and collapsed early for a start before daybreak the next and final day.

Day #5:

The big day! We began at 4:30 am in complete darkness with a starry sky.  I am grateful that we could not see more than a foot ahead…it made the very steep 2-hour incline over large boulders much easier to manage. By the time we had daylight, it was time for a small break of figs, dates, and nuts, all sourced locally, of course!  We turned our headlamps off while donning crampons for the snowy climb to the peak (4167m). The weather was perfect (cool, dry, and sunny), making the exhilarating summit even more rewarding!  I shed a few tears of triumph and gratitude that our guides were so amazing and that my body held up to my grit and determination.  After about 30 minutes of photos, celebration, pats on the back for all, and 360-degree panoramic views to take in, we began our challenging descent back down to the refuge.  After a brief lunch and a final pack of the mules, we headed another 5 hours down to Imlil valley. The day consisted of about 10 hours total of hiking, both up and down.  My legs were at their end by the time we arrived at our lovely little hotel in Imlil; I still have several bruises to prove it!  Our group was exhausted but so happy to have shared our personal challenges and such a moving 5 days together!

Day #6:

We drove back to Marrakech, reveling in our personal accomplishments…and planning the next mountain summit.  Kilimanjaro here we come!

Congratulations Nicole, and we can’t wait to hear about your next feat.