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High Atlas Travel Guide

Oukaimeden

While you probably didn't go to Morocco for the snow, if Vail's novelty value has worn off and you have a day or two to kill, then a bit of powder isn't out of the question. The ski station at Oukaïmeden is becoming an increasingly popular retreat and a good place for novices to get in some practice without the stress of jam-packed slopes. A range of walks is available outside the ski season.

Unless you're

Moroccan, or a ridiculously enthusiastic ski bum, it's highly unlikely you'll arrive with any of the right gear. Numerous shops are ready to help out. As in the souk, nothing has a fixed price, so you may need to bargain. As a general rule, expect to pay around 150 DH per day for some warm clothing, boots, skis, and poles. The next step is getting to the ski lift, which is in fact a frustratingly long distance away (particularly in ski boots). To ride on the big lift to the very top of the mountain (known as the télésiège in French) a lift pass costs 100 DH per day; access to the six smaller chairlifts (téléskis) costs 50 DH per day.

Although Oukaïmeden is small, don't think its 20-odd pistes (runs) are basic. Apart from three green (easy) runs and four blue (medium), everything else is either red (advanced) or black (difficult). Only red and black runs go down the télésiège, so go ready for a challenge. The long red run starts to the right of the lift drop-off point—everything else to the left is black, and with names like Combe du Mort (Vale of Death) they aren't for the fainthearted. It's currently undergoing massive investment. The ski season lasts from December until late March.

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