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Fjällräven Polar 2015! It’s Nearly Time!!!

By Phil 2014.11.07 in Fjällräven Polar

Soon it will be time for people to apply for Fjällräven Polar 2015!

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I can’t believe it is nearly a year ago since I saw the advert in an outdoor magazine advertising this unique once in a lifetime Polar adventure. I remember thinking at the time, “This is for me, I’m going to do this!”. I then started to plan my application, ready to be submitted once the competition opened in November.

Luckily for me, after months of hard work campaigning and hassling friends, family, work colleagues, local newspapers, radio stations, outdoor groups and many more, I managed to finish in 1st place for the UK and gain an automatic place on Fjällräven Polar 2014

For those who don’t know about Fjällräven Polar. It is an approximately 300km long winter adventure across the arctic tundra. The participants will steer a dog sled all the way from Signaldalen, Norway, to the forests around Jukkasjärvi, Swedish Lappland. Conditions can be grim at times, even if the weather is usually relatively stable in April north of the Arctic circle. Where participants have faced everything from exhausting stages,blizzards and minus 30°C.

Fjällräven Polar gives “ordinary” people, with ordinary jobs, the chance to discover how amazing outdoor life is in the winter, and demonstrates that anyone can experience the adventure of a lifetime – as long as they have the right knowledge and equipment..

The selection process is based on a competition where applicants uploaded a photograph or video and a text explaining why you should be chosen for the trip. The competition takes place on a country-by-country basis and two people from each country/group are selected and only 20 people in total:

  • The first person from each country is selected by visitors to the website voting for their favourite application – the submission with the most votes is guaranteed a spot.
  • The second person from each country will be chosen by Fjällräven.

The participants chosen to join Fjällräven Polar are from each of the following countries/groups: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), Germany, UK, USA, Czech Republic and “other countries”.

You can watch the 2015 promotional video here:

You can watch the full video of Fjällräven Polar 2014 here:

I can honestly say that Fjällräven Polar changed my life. Being part of such an amazing adventure and sharing it with my fellow 19 Polarists from around the world, who I now class as very close friends, was without doubt the best experience of my life. Many of us keep in regular contact and already I have met up with 8 of my fellow participants as well as people from previous years’ Polar, when we entered a Polar team in this years Fjällräven Classic, visits from Manon and Melanie to see me here in the UK and when I visited Jostein in Norway to do Trolltunga. With many more future meetings planned, which include a few of us spending this New Year in a cabin in Finnish Lapland under the Northern Lights. Thanks to all our friends at Fjällräven for allowing us to take part in such a once in a lifetime amazing adventure.

To find out more about my own personal Fjällräven Polar 2014 experience, check my daily Polar Daily Diary here

So if you are interested in taking part in such an amazing experience, GO FOR IT!!!

Application period: 18 Nov – 12 Dec 2014.

Click here for more info and to register once open!

You can also check out our Fjällräven Polar “Happy” video we made during our adventure:

Ice To Meet You

By Phil 2014.11.04 in Lake District

Last weekend I headed back over to the Lakes to meet up with Lydia, who I met on the Toubkal Two Valley trek a few weeks ago, who had travelled up from London along with her two friends Simone and Tom. I also invited my friend and fellow outdoor blogger Rhiannon to join us and to meet face to face for the first time.

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I was first to arrive in Kendal so I decided to head to the Kendal Brewery and wait for the others. While waiting I received a text from Lydia saying she had missed train from London as she had been to a masked ball wedding reception and would be getting the next train but that Simone and Tom were on their way and that I should look out for a tall blonde Australian woman and a Frenchman entering the pub. So that meant I was on the lookout for 3 people who I had never met before in a pub full of locals dressed in Halloween costumes.

Rhiannon was first to arrive and luckily she wasn’t in Halloween fancy dress, so I could spot her easily enough as she entered the pub. It wasn’t long before I spotted Simone and Tom while standing at the bar as they too were dressed in normal clothes. I think we were the only ones who were.

An hour later Lydia finally arrived, soaking wet from the rain as she walked from the train station to the pub while wearing her wedding outfit, high heels and her mask she had worn at the masked ball reception. She was actually the hardest to spot amongst the Halloween costumes of the locals. After drying off and a few glasses of wine, she was starting to look her normal self.

The next morning we decided to head to Kentmere to do the stunning Kentmere Horseshoe hike which I did last month with Joe and Jason.

The day started off well with sunny spells but after an hour into the walk the clouds we got caught in some light showers, before arriving at our first summit in complete clouds.

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Although visibility was bad at times at the top, I wasn’t too worried about getting lost as we had chief navigator Rhiannon with us. After reading about many of Rhiannon’s adventures on her blog Away To The Hills, which also included many solo hikes and wild camping trips, I was confident we wouldn’t get lost. Rhiannon was constantly checking our location and running it by me by showing me the map. If only she knew my navigational track record, as I nodded and agreed with her. So I told her about the time me, Joe and Jason got lost in Courmayeur while doing the Tour du Mont Blanc last year, where we walked 5km in 3 hours looking for the start point, only to find it was 5 minutes from where we had spent the night.

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By lunch time the wind had really picked up and was nearly knocking us all off our feet, as we sheltered behind a rock for a short lunch stop. It was one of the windiest hikes I had been on, it was up there with my Windy Gyle experience last year. As we walked across the one of the ridges, the wind was that strong it actually blew the water which was running down the valley back up and into our faces. At one point we also thought we heard cries for help in the distance, but after stopping and listening for some time in the gusty winds we decided it was actually the sound of a horn, which was later confirmed as we passed a group elderly locals and their dogs.

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Due to the gusty wind, poor visibility and dark nights, we decided to shorten the walk slightly and head back to the car before heading to the Hawkshead Brewery for the best chips ever and a beer. The best way to end a windy hike, before heading back to Kendal for a quick change and out for a meal and plenty of wine at the excellent Romney’s in Kendal.

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On the Sunday we headed over to Keswick for a session on the Ice Wall at King Kong Climbing Centre. Rhiannon had suggested giving it a go, which was also a chance for her to get some practice in before her 3 weeks trip to Nepal next week to attempt an unclimbed peak.

I hadn’t done any form of ice climbing before, so was really looking for to the experience. As there were 5 of us in our group, we had the ice wall chamber to ourselves along with our instructor Will. After Will’s safety instructions and basic ice wall traversing test, we paired up for our 1 hour 30 minute session.

After pairing up with Rhiannon, it was quite nerve wracking being responsible for her safety as she had first attempt to climb the wall, while I performed the belaying duties of managing the rope and to stop her from falling should she slip from the ice wall. No pressure!!! Before switching positions for my climb.

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I must admit, the ice wall climbing was a lot harder than I was expecting. Our first attempts were the hardest, as we wasted lots of energy hacking away at the ice wall trying to get the best hold, rather than taking our time and choosing the whitest part of the ice in order to get a better hold and position. Something Will decided to let us find out for ourselves. The following climbs were a little easier, though I started to lose the grip and power in my weaker left arm and hand while trying hack the axe into the wall.

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Despite losing strength and feeling in my left arm during the session, I now know what to expect the next time. It was a great experience and look forward to other sessions in the future.

After dropping the London contingent off for their train back home, me and Rhiannon headed over Milnthorpe to visit my friend Lindsay who owns The Sporting Lodge for a coffee and another private viewing of their amazing showroom. On our way over we saw what looked like a man paragliding. As we got closer it looked like he was struggling and attempting to climb up his paraglider.

We thought about phoning for help as we got closer, only to realise it was actually a kite and the man we thought was struggling was in fact also a kite in the shape of a scuba diver. This was followed by other kites of a frog, cow, a dog and an octopus. We were so glad we never made the SOS call.

Overall I had a cracking weekend. There was beer, wind, rain, sun, more beer, wine, ice climb, funny kites, catching up with old and new friends and plenty of laughs. To sum up in one word. Awesome!

Scarpa R-Evo GTX Review

By Phil 2014.11.04 in Product Review

I bought my Scarpa R-Evo GTX boots last April after the constant problems I experienced with previous boots due to my dropped arches and tops of toes rubbing against the upper boot.

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My previous boots have been Meindl Softline GTX and Salomon Quest 4D GTX boots. Both pairs seemed fine initially but once worn in and used on long distance treks, they both started to give me problems.

I opted for the Scarpa R-Evo GTX boots after purchasing the Scarpa Mantra Pro GTX four season boots last winter for use with crampons and which I have had no problems with during my winter hikes.

The Scarpa R-Evo GTX boot has a cushioned sock liner which fits snug around your feet. This helps reduce pressure on the top of your feet caused by natural boot creases as they become more worn in. This also means there is no stitching where the tongue of the boot joins the rest of the upper boot as found in other boots.

Although the boot feels like a soft cloth material, they are fully waterproof. This I can confirm from a number of wet hikes in the Lakes, which included walking through running streams just below ankle level.

I have also just returned from my first multi day trek with these boots after completing the Toubkal Two Valley trek in Morocco and they were perfect for such conditions, where we experienced very dry dusty tracks, water and snow. They have been the most comfortable pair of boots I have worn on any of my multi day treks.

Due to my feet having dropped arches, I replaced the insoles in these boots with the SuperFeet Carbon insoles for that little extra arch support. I chose the carbon insoles for their low-profile to help prevent any further rubbing of the toes on the top of the boot, a problem I had with my previous boots and the thicker SuperFeet insoles I tried.

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The Scarpa R-Evo GTX boots combined with the SuperFeet Carbon insoles are without doubt the most comfortable pair of walking boots I have had and I would thoroughly recommend these boots for any 3 season hiking adventures.

Technical details:

  • Sole: Vibram Fagus Lite
  • Upper: Suede Water Resistant 1.8mm + S-Tech Fabric
  • Lining: Gore-Tex (performace comfort footwear)
  • Weight: 1320g per pair 42

Peak Design Capture Pro v2 Review

By Phil 2014.10.28 in Product Review

During last August’s Fjällräven Classic I passed a fellow hiker who had his DSLR camera somehow strapped to his front rucksack strap, which enabled him easy access to his camera while hiking. This was something I had struggled with this summer while out hiking while trying various methods of carrying your DSLR in order to have easy access to it for those photo opportunities.

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When I returned from the Classic I googled for such a device and discovered it must have been the Peak Design Capture Pro v2 and quickly ordered one.

After recently returning from the amazing Toubkal Two Valley trek and using the Capture Pro every day, I have to say it’s a must have gadget for outdoor photographers.

The product is superbly designed and built and I had every faith in it holding my DSLR securely during my recent week long hike. The clip has an additional lock which is easily turned with one hand, even with gloves on, to ensure the camera remains in the clip. Even without the camera being locked in, it would take an accurate press on the release button to release the camera in error.

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Having the Capture Pro on my trip allowed me to pause during the hike and take photos of the stunning mountains around us in a matter of seconds. In the past I often kept my DSLR inside my rucksack and only used it during lengthy stops during hikes and rely on my compact camera clipped to my waist. I no longer need to do this, and would only ever store my DSLR inside rucksack from now on, if hiking in wet and unpredictable weather in order to protect my camera.

I also own a lightweight Braun tripod which I also carry on my hikes, however it wasn’t ARCA plate compatible with the Capture Pro, but that was solved by buying a ARCA plate adapter which is now screwed on to the top of my tripod to allow quick use of my camera and tripod when required, without the hassle of having to change plates.

During my recent Toubkal Two Valley trek I used the Capture Pro on my Fjällräven Friluft 45 rucksack and it fitted over the straps no problem. I have also managed to fit the Capture Pro on the straps of my much larger Fjällräven Abisko 75, though this required me to loosen both screws in order to fit over the much thicker and wider rucksack straps, but it does fit.

Out of the box the Capture Pro comes with a small cloth pouch for storage, a quick setup and user guide and an Allen key to be used for extra tightening of the plate to your camera.

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Despite my success with the Capture Pro while on my recent Toubkal trek, I managed to lose my Capture Pro after removing it from my rucksack and packing it in luggage for flight home. So since I returned home I have purchased my second Capture Pro clip and will make sure I take more care as not to lose this one.

I would seriously recommend any outdoor photographer to purchase one of these, you will certainly not be disappointed and you will wonder how you have lasted so long without one.

Take a few minutes to watch the official Peak Design Capture Pro v2 video and see for yourself how amazing this product is:

A Touch of Toubkal Altitude Thickness

By Phil 2014.10.22 in Toubkal

I recently returned from the Toubkal Two Valley trek in Morocco with outdoor adventure company Exped Adventure. I managed to drag Ian, Joe, Jason, Alan and Andy G along for the ride also.

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Day 1: Into Africa [Right Back to Where We Started]

After a smooth trip to Marrakech airport, the taxi drive into Marrakech was as crazy as I expected, as we bustled our way through the chaotic traffic and crazy sights to a soundtrack of blasting horns. There also seems to be some kind of competition to see how many people or boxes one can fit on a motorbike while constantly cutting each other up on the road. Quite a bizarre sight. Welcome to Marrakech!

The taxi driver dropped us off on the outskirts of Marrakech where we were greeted by a tiny elderly man with a square wheelbarrow for our luggage. This was our porter who would guide us through the winding streets to our hostel accommodation, Equity Point. I have to say it was quite an experience as we followed our elderly porter through the streets, with him stopping every 5 minutes to hold his chest, while smiling, obviously trying to show us how hard his job was to get a bigger tip.

After wandering through the Souks of Marrakech, we finally arrived at our digs. Which I have to say is better than some B&B’s I have stayed in here in the UK. Our six bed dorm overlooked the swimming pool and just below the sun terraced roof with stunning views over Marrakech. We quickly checked in and headed out to the main square for some food.

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I had heard about how amazing the Moroccan street food was, so was looking forward to sampling it. As soon as you hit the main square it was just a sea of outdoor food stalls shouting “cheap price” to tempt you in. As we headed past the first food stall, we made the big mistake of looking at a menu, before being hassled to step in and eat there. We were just about to ignore the guy tempting us in and head further into the square, until he told us in excellent English: “It’s the same shit everywhere man, you might as well eat here.” After his very honest sales pitch, we decided to take his word for it and grab a table. I have to say, the display of fresh food on show, looked nothing like the cooked stuff we were served, which was quite disappointing. We quickly ate what little food we had been given and headed on through the rest of the main square, looking at all the options we had missed out on.

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After a long day travelling we were ready for some alcohol. Not easy to find in Morocco. Luckily we found a fancy rooftop restaurant which did serve beer and headed there for a few. We then wandered the streets looking for another bar before admitting defeat and heading back to our hostel only to find we had a great terrace bar selling beer right above our heads.

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Day 2: New Disciples [A spade's a spade unless it's a shovel]

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After breakfast we met our guides, Sam and Jamie from Exped Adventure as well as our fellow trekking mates Lydia, Sally, Rory, Alex, Andy and Tony for a briefing on our trek. As we had a few hours to kill before we headed to the mountains in Imil, we had time to have another wander around Marrakech and a spot of lunch. During lunch (where I managed to be the only person to order a chicken tagine which came with no chicken, only bones!) we discussed some of the things we might encounter during the trek. Ian started to tell Lydia that he had brought his bat repellent which sends out a high pitched sound to scare off bats during the night. Lydia was worried at this point as she hadn’t brought any bat repellent, until we all started laughing at Ian’s joke.

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We returned to our hostel to be picked up by our mini bus for the 1.5 hour drive to the mountain village of Imil where we would start our trek from the following day. Our accommodation for the night was the excellent Dar Ardar in the hills above Imil which stretched before us from the balcony view. After being served a great meal of soup, tagines (with chicken this time) and gallons of green tea a few of us had a game of cards to pass the time. This card game was more challenging than expected, as Lydia struggled with the card suits, getting her shovels and spades and clubs and clovers mixed up. To which Alan came out with the comment which was soon to be used a lot during the trek of: “Have you got altitude thickness Lydia!”

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Day 3: Two Tribes go to Walk [A Night Under the Stars]

After a great night sleep in a proper bed (unlike half the group who reported being awoken by the sound of some sort of Wickerman festival in the valley below during the dead of night), We woke to stunning views of the mountains above Imil as the clouds lifted while we got ready for our first day of trek.

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We split into our teams of 6, with Sam leading our team and Jamie leading the others and headed off. It was quite a steep ascent to start the day off as well as blistering heat as we headed to the Col Tizi Mzik pass at 2400m.

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Once at the Col we dumped out rucksacks and headed off to first summit of 2580m. Once at the summit were had our first experience of the truly stunning views we would encounter on this trip. We then headed back to catch up with the muleteers and mules who had gone ahead to setup out first lunch stop of the trek. We were treated to a great first meal and gallons of green tea by our personal chef before the steep decent to the Berber village of Tizi Oussem at 1900m and our gite for the night.

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Each team of 6 were given our own dorms for the night. Ours was a long brick annex from the main building with cushioned bench around the wall for us to sleep on with our sleeping bags. While most of us were unpacking, Andy came into the room with a huge grin on his face, happy that he managed to survive his first attempt at using the hole in the ground toilet without incident. He was so pleased he hit the target that he felt like celebrating and throwing his hands in the air but he was too busy using his hands to keep the door shut and balancing.

After dinner Joe decided to get his phone out and play a game he has on it called, “Guess The Animal”, where you hold the phone on your forehead facing the rest of the group and you have to guess the animal based on the clues given by the others looking at the phone on your forehead. During Ian’s turn the animal on display was Walrus, to which Joe gave the perfect clue. “A Beatles song, I am the….?” To which Ian replied. “Yellow Submarine.” It seemed like Ian was next to succumb to altitude thickness.

A few of the group decided to sleep on the balcony under the stars rather than in our team rooms. Me and Ian managed to last an hour or so, before returning to our room where Joe and Andy G appeared to be having a snore-off. With hindsight I think we would have been better off staying on the balcony and putting up with the sound of morning prayers, music procession, singing and many other bizarre noises during the night rather than listen to Joe and Andy G snoring.

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Day 4: Diker Grove [Meat is Murder]

The next day was a long trek up the Azzadene valley to Lepiney refuge at 3000m and the famous outside toilet with amazing valley views (even if the toilet itself was anything but amazing), I had heard so much about from my friend Rhiannon (her blog post An Atlas Mountain Adventure & an Extreme Shewee can be found at her blog site here: Away to the Hills).

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On the way we stopped off at a new posh refuge for some green tea and snacks. Posh means it had normal flushable toilets, which the group made sure to make the most of before hitting the unique Lepiney refuge.

Before lunch we passed a stunning waterfall where Alan and Ian decided to strip off and take the opportunity to have a dip to cool down.

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Although our meals cooked by the muleteers were great considering what equipment they had to cook them with during the trek, we were starting to miss some real meat. So Jamie asked the chef if there was any way we could have some meat for our evening meal at the refuge. We were told we could pay a little extra and sacrifice a goat, which for 40 Dirham a person was bargain.

As we headed up the mountain to the refuge we started to see and hear a little black goat following us all the way to the refuge on its own accord. Little did we know at the time that this was soon to be our dinner, before finally arriving at the Lepiney refuge and the famous toilet with a view!

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While some went out to watch the sacrificing of our goat (which is done as humanely as possible and instant), the rest of us settled into our accommodation for the night which was the attic of this very small refuge. We basically had to climb a vertical ladder from the kitchen through a hole in the attic and sleep on cushioned mats along with a group of Dutch people who had somehow picked up on some of our teams accents and kept saying “Byker Grove” to us. I’m amazed how such a kids TV show had made it on to Dutch TV, but obviously had.

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Day 5: Ziga Zig Za [Up to the Bottom]

The Dutch had obviously planned on leaving the refuge a lot earlier than us, as they woke some of us up with their singing during breakfast while we were still trying to sleep. No doubt singing the Ant and Dec classic hit song “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble”.

Despite the singing Dutch, it was actually my best night’s sleep of the trek and felt great as we headed up the never ending zig zag path up the valley to the Col on the shoulder of Aguelzim at 3550m. The hard slog up the valley was the first time I noticed people splitting from our usual walking groups and often walking on their own, this was due to people wanting to set their own pace.

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This was the highest I had hiked and was starting to feel the first effects of hiking at higher altitude which wasn’t helped by the blistering heat and steep scree terrain.

Our muleteers had found us a perfect lunch stop as we looked down towards the Toubkal refuge as well as seeing our first glimpse of the Toubkal summit we would be ascending the following day.

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It was a fairly rocky descent to the Toubkal refuge at 3200m, which was very busy with well over 100 trekkers staying the night. We were placed in a dorm with 4 strangers which included an American couple who were getting up at around 4am to summit Toubkal before long walk back to Imil. Luckily we weren’t leaving till after 8am and returning back to Toubkal refuge for another night.

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Day 6: Through the Bleak Mid Winter [There and Back Again]

After a bad night’s sleep due to increase in snorers in our room, I still felt quite fresh and ready for our 8am ascent of Jebel Toubkal. Unlike our previous Dutch companions the Americans must have had ninja training as they quietly left our dorm for their early morning ascent without disturbing us.

We set off in our teams of 6 with the plan of meeting at the col prior to the final ascent of Toubkal. It was quite a cold morning due to us being in the shade for most of the way up to Toubkal, so it was the first time we all had to wrap up with extra layers, hats and gloves during the day.

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It was another steep scree ascent before hitting a large patch of snow which we had to carefully navigate across. It wasn’t deep or hard enough where crampons or ice axes were essential, but was still very tricky to navigate through and had to be done with caution.

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We all arrived safely at the Col to perfect conditions of clear blue skies, sun shining and stunning views for miles around. We then made our final ascent to the summit of Toubkal, the highest point in North Africa at 4167 metres high.

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As there had been so many people staying in the refuge the night before, I was expecting a lot more people on the summit when we arrived, but I was so pleased there weren’t hordes of people like you see on top of Ben Nevis or Scafell Pike at weekends back in the UK. After a while we pretty much had the summit of Toubkal to ourselves. It was perfect!

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Sam and Jamie had planned this route with this in mind and this allowed us to spend over an hour on the summit chilling and taking many summit photos while admiring the amazing views all around us.

After enjoying the summit of Toubkal, it was time to head back to our refuge, which also meant passing over the snow we crossed on the way up. It was a lot harder going down over the snow as it was going up it, as Alan soon discovered as he slipped and slid down the snow only to be stopped by Sam.

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We arrived back at the refuge just before 4pm where our chef had our first of two large meals ready waiting for us.

The evening ended with some muleteers partying, playing music and singing outside their tents in front of the refuge and joined by many hikers staying at the refuge.

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Day 7: Breaking up the Band [Beer, Belly Dancers]

After another loud snore fest in our room, it was another early start for our descent back to Imil through the Mizane valley.

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It was quite a busy descent back down to Imil, as we passed many hikers on their way up to ascend Toubkal direct from Imil. This would easily add 4 hours to an already hard hike up Toubkal and so glad we did the route designed by Sam and Jamie.

We finally arrived back at Dar Ardar in Imil where we had started this amazing trek from and were provided with another slap up meal on the terrace before being joined by our muleteers and chefs to thank them for all their hard work and give them gifts such as shirts, head torches, hats and sunglasses as a thank you.

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After a few hours chilling at Dar Ardar we were picked up by our mini bus to take us back to the craziness of Marrakech. After a quick shower and change it was time to head to the only restaurant we knew which served great food and more importantly, alcohol!!

Needless to say the drink went down like it was going out of fashion, as we kept doubling up on our beer orders throughout the night. We were even treated to some belly dancers at our table, who had appeared from nowhere but for some reason had dumped their clothes in the men’s toilets.

Day 8: Time to Go Morocco [Yallah Yallah]

Following the heavy night of drinking, there were quite a few sore heads amongst the group, some more sore than others and nobody was in much of a hurry to get up for breakfast.

Our flight home wasn’t until 7pm, so after saying our farewells to some of the team, we headed off to the Souks of Marrakech for some last minute shopping and so Andy G could continue his Moroccan slipper fetish which he seemed to have acquired during our trek.

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Summary:

The whole Toubkal Two Valley trek was an amazing experience and one I would thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to do such a multi-day trek. It had everything from stunning scenery, mixed terrain of dusty tracks and snow as well as a great group of people.

It was also my first experience of doing an organised trek and so glad we chose Exped Adventure over the other companies offering the same trek. Sam and Jamie have a lot of experience of trekking in Morocco and this has helped them establish a great relationship with the locals and design a unique route which helps with acclimatisation. It also avoided having to start the Toubkal ascent at the very early hours of the morning like many of our fellow trekkers and allowed us to spend more time and mostly private time at the summit of Toubkal. Their route and timings is spot on as was their choice of muleteers and chefs who were with us all the way.

Although I’m glad to have experienced the craziness of Marrakech, it’s not somewhere I’m in a hurry to return to. It certainly is an experience you won’t forget, but I was ready to leave it behind and would much rather have stayed the extra days/nights in the mountains.

As a lover of winter adventures over summer ones, I’m very tempted to do Toubkal in the winter, though I think I need to recover from my first Marrakech experience and flush out all the green tea and cumin from my body before revisiting for a winter encounter.

You can view the profile and full trek details here

Fjallraven Keb Loft Jacket Review

By Phil 2014.10.22 in Product Review

I recently returned from the Toubkal Two Valley trek in Morocco, where the provided kit list specified a down jacket for cold nights while up in the Toubkal Mountains. As I didn’t own a down jacket I decided to purchase the Fjällräven Keb Loft jacket and this is my review.

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The Fjällräven Keb Loft is made with Fjällräven’s new G-Loft Supreme synthetic padding with exceptionally high insulating properties.

When I first received the jacket I was very impressed with how light it was. The jacket has two large inside mesh pockets which I found useful for storing hat and gloves if required. There are also two outside hip zipped pockets with a reinforced hem. The front opening has both zip and button fastenings for extra protection along with reinforced hem.

The jacket compresses down to a very small size and I was able to store it in a small drag bag while carrying in my rucksack. I was also pleased with how the jacket kept its shape despite being stored in a small dry bag for some time. The adjustable drawcord at the hem of the jacket was useful when tightened to keep out any draft caused by the wind as well as the elasticated cuffs.

I used my Keb Loft on most nights while in the Toubkal Mountains and wore it over the top of my Keb Fleece jacket at all times and was amazed with how quickly my body warmed up with this jacket on. I bought the jacket in the same size I do for all my Fjällräven upper body products and was the perfect size to fit over my Keb Fleece jacket and other layers I was wearing on the evening.

Luckily it never rained during my recent trek, so never got test the quick drying properties of the jacket, though I’m sure that will come in time due to the unpredictable weather here in the UK.

I would thoroughly recommend the Fjällräven Keb Loft jacket and look forward to using it a lot more on the hills in the coming winter months.

Technical specification:

Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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Please checkout my fellow Polar bloggers and read about their experience in their words:

Alex Kalita (USA)

Madeleine Hanssen (Norway)

Manon Kloosterman (Netherlands)

Peter Blom Jensen (Denmark)

Tuija Pellikka (Finland)

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