On our final day in Morocco a portion of our group made the trek to Oukaimeden. As we had hoped, the drizzly Marrakesh weather was fresh powder in the mountains. Jim decided he had no desire to attempt the long trip.
The trip took a couple of hours each way. We made a few stops for picture-taking, and it always amazed me that wherever a tourist was sighted, Moroccan children swarmed out of the woodwork offering the same coral beads and other trinkets that we saw at every other place.
Although there was no snow in the lower elevations, the road was icy up above.
Most (if not all) of us rented equipment – at least the skis. The shop located in this strip mall was small and dark with a limited selection of out-dated equipment. Never mind, those boards would slide on the snow and that's all that was required.
This appeared to be the extent of the commercial district. There were many private houses, but not much in the way of hotels.
The "base lodge" was basic: rocky outcroppings in the snow.
On the other hand, there weren't any lines at the ticket window.
There were two main "areas." The closer one (although it clearly wasn't too close) comprised two Poma lifts and three short slopes. The farther one was served by a double-chair that disappeared over the ridge.
To navigate between the areas, we could either practice our skating skills along the road or we could hire a "detachable quadruped" to speed up the process. Tom and I have elected to do this. Who could imagine that we would find a Moroccan "lift operator" wearing a Redskins jacket?!
After taking a few warm-up runs on the Pomas, we proceeded via slow-speed donkey to the chair lift. It was very long and about as slow as the donkey, but it took us to the top of the world.
Sharon is ready to hit the slopes.
In Greek myth, Atlas held the heavens on his shoulders. He was later turned into stone: the mountains that bear his name.On a clear day, you can see ... the Atlantic! This was the view from the top of the chair. I don't know if you really could see as far as the ocean, but it felt like it.
As we ski down, we see the base area – such as it is.
The skiing really was fabulous. Great powder!
Since we were feeling our way down and taking pictures at every opportunity, we didn't think we had enough time for a second run. Gordon, on the other hand, did take at least one other. We don't know what trails he came down because none of us ever saw him.
It's the end of the day; it's getting dark; fog is rolling in; the road is icy; the parking lot is almost empty; and no-one knows where Gordon is. We were beginning to wonder. Was he was injured ... or lost ... or ...? We were beginning to think of leaving without him!
Eventually he showed up.
Our day in the Atlas was a fitting end to a fabulous "see and ski" trip. Many thanks to the McKinleys for putting it together.
I like to end my travelogues with a photo from home to emphasize that the real reason for travel is to appreciate what you have every day. Here's a picture from Wisp, in western Maryland. We had spent a weekend there with our PVS friends warming up for our exotic vacation. It has more amenities than Oukaimeden and is a heck of a lot closer. Not quite the vertical, however!
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