Look back at Angour

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Table d’oriention à Oukaimeden

About 50 miles from Marrakech, about 8,500 feet up in a small, shallow High Atlas valley, sits the ski resort of Oukaimeden.

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The ski center of Oukaimeden, 1976, from Angour

Developed by the French when France exercised political and economic control of Morocco, Oukaimeden appears to have languished despite a dramatic setting and special assets.

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Main ski trails, main lift goes to top at 10,500 feet

Part of the problem may be that it is a little too far from the major population centers, and its trails too challenging.

Only an hour from Fes and Meknes, and only about four hours from Rabat, the Middle Atlas resort of Michliffen and Jbel Henri offer convenience as well as easy trails in a stately, old growth cedar forest populated year-round by monkeys.

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Michliffen

The Middle Atlas is the popular choice for Moroccan skiers. Only in Casablanca, about midway between the two resorts, might the question arise which way should one go.

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Slope at Michliffen
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Atlas Cedar after snow and thaw
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Café at Michliffen
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Late Dick Holbrooke and family at Michliffen in 1970

Bouiblane, also in the Middle Atlas, offers more downhill possibilities and snow, but hasn’t really been developed.

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Bouiblane after a winter snowfall, from Ahermoumou

Access to Bouiblane, whether through Sefrou or Taza, remains difficult, however.

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Crossing a stream, PigPen peers out. An easier part of access to Bouiblane from Sefrou

In fact, much of the foreign interest in skiing centers on touring in the high mountains, a sport for those who are very fit and know what they are doing.

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Chair lift at Oukaimeden

I don’t know the exact state of Oukaimeden today. An internet site reported that a Gulf company had proposed a major renovation, with better accommodations, better trails and snow making equipment, and more lifts. That would certainly improve it, but the question remains: from where would the skiers come?

When I visited Oukaimeden for the first time in 1973, it was early spring. I was travelling with a Binghamton University professor, Dick Moench, who was a skier, and he did not hesitate to take the chair lift to the 10,500 foot high summit. He made his way down on old, rented equipment, which was a tribute to his athletic ability. It was late in the season, and the trails were rocky.

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Dick Moench on top, ready to try out his rental skis, March 1973
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Dick Moench paused for a photo. Note the bare patches

At that time, the main lodging there was the 160 room Club Alpin Français facility, which had been built by the Casablanca section of CAF during the Protectorate. Oukaimeden offers challenging skiing. The 10,500 foot high chair lift was and still is, I believe, the highest in Africa.

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Angour, from Oukaimeden. The long west ridge is an easy descent

A few years later I came back a few times to hike. Directly facing the resort rises Jbel Angour. Angour is an walk up, and the easy descent via the west ridge offers great views. The standard route, when there is not too much snow, uses a diagonally ascending ledge as opposed to one of the gullies.

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This diagonal ledge is an easy way to the summit of Angour, providing that there is not too much snow on it
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Aksoual views from Angour
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Dan Butler, on descent of west ridge
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Sunset from west ridge of Angour

Author: Dave

Retired. Formerly school librarian, social studies teacher, and urban planner.

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