Ascent of Jebel Kelti on 2017-04-17

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Monday, April 17, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Jebel Kelti
    Elevation:6319 ft / 1926 m

Ascent Trip Report

5h15 up, 45mins at summit, 3h45 down, a fairly long day, but very doable thanks to the Mclellans doing the ground work with the route. Excellent limestone scenery and quite a remote feel. Mostly on mule tracks but last two hours largely trackless over quite rough ground. Birdlife is pretty good with nightingales low down and woodlark and redbilled chough higher up.

The previous day after an easy climb of Jebel Mussa we checked out the trailhead - El Wadyine. Small shop with a roadside drinking water fountain (we didn't drink - probably piped from stream) and informal parking. Adrian got the OK from the shopkeeper to leave the car (only speaks Arabic but fortunately a local minibus driver was able to translate). The minibus was waiting for a local hotelier who had walked up to the small village of Wadlam which has no road access. The Mclellans were unable to find foot access to Wadlam, in the dark, although we are told it is a popular tourist hike so there is surely a footpath and this would simplify the first part of the Kelti approach if someone can find it. There is an obvious footpath from by the shop which seems to head that way, and is shown on OpenStreetMap as going to the upper village. The Mclellans failed to follow it down from the village but they were descending in the dark and there are several path forks - probably OK in daylight - may be easier to follow uphill from El Wadyine.

Recce and research complete, we headed into Chefchaouen with its wonderful old medina, for food, returning late evening to sleep in the car at the trailhead. Oddly there were vehicles coming and going to this tiny village seemingly all night, so not the ideal overnight spot.

We woke at 0600 and started hiking at 0635, a little after first light. A good 4wd road winds up past the mosque to soon end at the last house, continuing as a mule track heading uphill, with also a good path traversing L from the house gate. Following the Mclellans GPS track we headed straight up on the mule track but there are a few obstacles and I wonder whether the path L is the official route nowadays. In a few minutes the mule track resumes above cultivated terraces, we cross a water channel then head up a steep grassy slope, and above we follow a ridge of rough karst limestone; mostly we can walk on grass.

We cross a wide mule track which leads down L to the village and seems also to lead R down towards the WSW - OpenStreetMap shows a path heading down that way to the main road. A good track also climbs NE and this is our route, climbing above terraced fields with fine early morning views across a cloud filled valley. Note there is a good path forking R at about 1230m - wrong way! Just below the fork are two good water sources (springs) - we found no drinking water higher than this, and made our 2 litres last.

The mule track climbs higher then turns R into a nice valley (with stream, would be treatable). The track seems to run into cultivated fields but actually turns L just before a wall and climbs up through scrubby trees - braided but the GPS tracks show the way. Above, the track crosses another small area of pasture then traverses another wooded slope before ending in another large area of pasture and terraces.

From this point, 3+ hours into the walk, Kelti summit is at last visible as a rubbly dome seemingly not to far away, although in reality it's two hours hard labour as the intervening ridge is rough sharp karst limestone. It's best to traverse below it to the left although it's necessary to drop quite low to miss most of it (we descend to 1650m on the way back but still have a few complications). The landscape is very good though with cork oak and colourful lenten-rose as well as a lot of the less showy green hellebore and lots of smaller flowers.

On our way outwards, traversing fairly high on the intervening peak we have a couple of scrambly down climbs, some sharp scrambly ridges and some deep sink holes before the final ascent, via the lower west summit with its impressive drops to houses far below. The summit is a rock outcrop near a large shelter cairn. Surprised to see two Moroccans up there, on the lower NE summit, but our paths don't cross.

After 45mins we head down, keeping R after the first col and descending mostly in woodland, with lots of goats and two lads picking lenten-rose who guess we've done Kelti (but with an overnight bivvy they wrongly assume). We level off at 1650m then a rising traverse and a few minor ups and downs lead to pasture which we cross to rejoin our outward route just before the end of the mule track. Once on the track it's downhill all the way and an easy descent, although pretty hot. We're pleased to find the springs at about 1200m as a bit short of water by then.

Back down by 1620 in good time. Adrian offers the shopkeeper some money for minding our car, which he refuses, and we return to Chefchaouen, find a hotel, then back into the fascinating medina for a meal and to continue our exploration from yesterday evening.

Jebel Kelti photo album
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3792 ft / 1155 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3792 ft / 1155 m
    Distance:12.9 mi / 20.7 km
    Start Trailhead:2527 ft / 770 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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