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Atlas Mountain Expedition Report

Atlas Mountain Expedition Report  
Date Published:

A report on our Outdoor Education students' recent trek to Mount Toubkal by expedition leader and course tutor Carl Halliday.

I'm sure most of you will have seen some of the photos and would have followed our progress through the college's facebook page while we were away, but for those who weren't able to - I'm pleased to report that the expedition was a great success!

After five days of effective acclimatisation day-treks from our base in the mountain village of imlil, the expedition team were ready to attempt an ascent of Mount Toubkal (4,167m).

We left Imlil at 9am on Thursday 12 June and trekked up to the mountain refuge hut (3,200m), where we spent the night. We struck out for the summit at 5:40am the following morning, using head torches to show the way as we zig-zagged up the first steep scree slopes. All members of the expedition team successfully reached the summit at 8:45am, and were greeted with fantastic views across the High Atlas mountain range - stretching south towards the Sahara desert.

The students were elated and the sense of achievement was tangible. There were many comments such as 'this is the greatest thing I've achieved in my life', 'this is the hardest thing I've ever done' and lots of handshakes, thanks and appreciation from the students for the opportunity.  

We spent almost an hour at the summit, taking in the views and reflecting on the achievement of everyone reaching the summit, before the long trek all the way back down to the comforts of Imlil.

The expedition was a great success, not only because everyone successfully made it to the summit as a team, but also because of the way the students embraced the local customs and culture of Morocco.

With expeditions like this, reaching the summit of a mountain is only part of the expedition and the experience of being transported into another part of the world, where students learn and gain an appreciation of different customs and cultures, can be a powerful experience and can help open student's eyes and minds to the world in general.

I was as proud of the students attitudes, their willingness to soak up the local culture and the time they took to mix, talk and drink mint tea with the local people of Imlil, as I was in their achievements on the mountain!

To cap the success of the trip, the expedition has raised £248 so far for 'Education for All', a charity that promotes further education for girls in rural and mountainous regions in Morocco. They do fantastic work in helping and supporting girls in continuing their education after primary school. Something that we take for granted in the UK, but which is difficult for many families living in areas such as the Atlas Mountains.

It's great to see such a positive story in relation to the education of female Muslims, amongst the unfortunate and negative stories that have been in the news recently from other countries. Our students got to see school children in Imlil and see first-hand how much their education means to them and how difficult it is to get to school from the remote villages.

The expedition team are more determined than ever to meet the target that was set of £450. People can still donate via our 'Just Giving' page at: www.justgiving.com/Northumberland-College

Any donation however small would be very much appreciated (both by the expedition team and the charity). It takes just a minute to donate on the just giving page (please make sure that you tick the 'gift aid' box if you do donate, so that the tax goes to the charity rather than to our government!)

A huge thank you from all of the expedition team to anyone who has already made a donation to this good cause and for all of the help certain people have given; whether this has been direct or in-direct sponsorship or helping with publicising the expedition and our chosen charity. The main sponsor groups include: Northumberland College, Friends of Kirkley, NCFE, Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens and Kirkley Hall Activity Centre.

The students have been very appreciative of any help and support given and it's been the perfect way to end their two years at college with us. They already had a lot of great memories from the OE course, but this one will cap them all and will be filed away under 'lifetime!'

Photos can be seen on the Northumberland College Facebook page.