Splitboarding Through Morocco

Splitboarding Through Morocco

Africa might not be the first destination that pops in your head when you think of a splitboarding expedition. Not many know that the highest peak in Morocco, Mount Bou Nasser, reaches 3,340 meters (10,958 feet) and receives a brief period of snow throughout the winter. 

This past winter, at the 50th Anniversary Summit of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, Weston Ambassador Bryce Barnes connected with a group of 12 Black skiers and snowboarders who had their eyes set on riding snow on all seven continents. Africa was their next target, and Barnes was invited to join them. He departed for a 14 day trip through Morocco and, after a few days in Marrakech, headed into the mountains of the Middle Atlas.

[BLOG SHARE] Get the full story from the Unofficial Networks piece written by Nolan Deck HERE. 



“There’s snow in Africa! It was something I’ve never felt before. It was like deep, deep corn. You could turn into it and just sink and push all kinds of snow. I don’t think anybody had any sluff slides, but it was like deep, rooted corn. It sounded different than all the other corn I’ve been skiing, too. I mean I’ve been snowboarding for 21 years now, and it was something else. Deep enough that you could cut an edge and grab a rock if you weren’t careful, and there were many rocks that were grabbed.”



"My first African summit! It was such a different scene than I’d ever imagined. Still fairly hot on the summit, views of snow covered northern facing slopes contrasting to dry sandy ridge lines and south faces, almost could see the Sahara on the horizon looking South. There were big patches of snow all around where sand had been blown from the desert to the mountains in winter storms.

One thing I think could have been noted in the packing list for this trip was how many rocks you’d be unable to avoid and that it could be worth bringing rock skis. Dropping in from the summit of Azorki was a dream otherwise. Surfed the Africa corn down to a ridge line that we followed to a rollover. Into a 1500’ face split in two by a rock band in the middle, which we used to divide the big group into two small groups. Nearly got bucked by a shark under the snow in the beginning of my line, definitely don’t want to look at that one. All high fives and cheers as we got back down to the base, quick transition and back in the vehicles to drive down to the next village where we’d stay for the next three nights, Dar Itrane."


"We were the first to the top, so I was able to get shots of everyone making their summit push, and we all got to share the summit together! That meant a lot to me, and the group photos at the top were so fun taking. The camaraderie at the top isn’t something I’ve felt before. At least not at that level. All of us, the three guides, were all smiles as if it was setting in for the first time in each of us that we were in the Motherland and doing what we all love so deeply. The ski down was another euphoric ride. Like if the terrain from Star Wars was covered in snow, orange rocks with a sparse cactus on either side. I’ve ridden so much snow and slush but never ever this deep! I can only assume it’s from the intensity of the sun and lack of skier compaction and snowpack. The sun factor also made it hard to dress for. I packed base layers (but never pulled them out of my bag) and a puffy that I used once just at the summit. Even boot crampons didn’t get used. We got just enough boot penetration without them. Ski crampons were very used though, we couldn't have done most of the skinning today without.

At the bottom of the line we skied were some more Nomadic huts and dwellings. In the winter they migrate south into the northern rim of the Sahara to live and graze their livestock of sheep or goats. Then as spring brings summer, they’ll begin migrating North back into the mountains and the children will do schooling in the nearby villages and settlements. They use the rocks and stones around their plots to construct the walls of the shelters they inhabit through the summers. Even the goats and sheep get well built rock stables and enclosure. Some small groups were arriving early when we were approaching. They can be smelled or seen trying to keep warm by burning small dry cactuses or the random herd of goats or sheep on the road at 8000’."


[BLOG SHARE] Get the full story from the Unofficial Networks piece written by Nolan Deck HERE. 

Follow @backcountrybryce for more pow slayin greatness. 

Images courtesy of Bryce Barnes. 

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