EverTrek Unites - More than just Trekking

Late on the 8th of September on a cool Friday evening, as the villages of the High Atlas mountains were settling down for the night after a busy day in the Moroccan sun, the earth started to tremble.

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake with its epicentre in the High Atlas mountains had started. The result was devastating hitting hundreds of villages and the surrounding area including Marrakesh.

I was in London at the time with fellow Yetis Jen and Dave and messages started to ping on my phone early on Saturday morning. It was immensely sad to see the loss of life and the damage to some of the areas as I switched on the news. At the same time, I urgently got in touch with our head of operations in Morroco, Jamal. He confirmed that the area was really badly hit but thankfully that all of our guides, porters and their families were all safe.

However, the quake had left thousands of people without homes in the affected villages and we had to do something!

This was when we reached out to you and the rest of our EverTrekker community to raise some funds and get some much-needed tents and sleeping bags out into the Atlas region as soon as possible.

It was such a positive response from EverTrekkers who had either been out to Morocco and met some of the team and even those who hadn’t been out there yet, but the community rallied, the donations were coming in thick and fast and we smashed the fundraising target within the first 48 hours after the quake.

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That really was an amazing effort and I couldn't have been more proud of our community!

As the fundraising was going well and whilst chatting with Jamal, he put me in touch with Captain Chris Hall who's a very popular pilot with Virgin Airlines, he's someone who also has close ties with the Imlil region. Together we devised a plan to combine the funds Chris had raised and the donations from the EverTrekker community and get the urgently needed tents and sleeping bags over to Morocco within a few days.

Chris works very closely with Virgin Unite and the Eve Branson Foundation, which are two of the charity arms of the Virgin brand created of course by Sir Richard Branson.

As conversations continued between me and Chris, Sir Richard heard the news of us trying to get these tents and sleeping bags over to Morocco and sprang into action to assist.

At 4 pm on the Tuesday after the earthquake, Chris told me that Sir Richard wanted to get involved as he was also heavily linked to the Imlil region and had an affinity for the region and that he would personally deliver the much-needed tents and sleeping bags and his assistance over to Imlil the very next day and that we had to get all of the items to his plane by midday on the Wednesday

It was time to get a move on!

We quickly jumped into the EverTruck and spent the next 5 hours locating and purchasing as many tents and sleeping bags as we could muster with the funds raised. The truck has literally filled to the brim with only the steering wheel visible.

Once loaded we left super early the next day and delivered the items to Sir Richards's plane as well as another 3 truck loads from Decathlon that had been purchased by Virgin Unite and off the tents and sleeping bags went on their own journey.

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Later the next day we heard from Jamal who had received all of the tents and sleeping bags from Sir Richard and got to work on giving these out to the most in need. Here's an article from him after heading out there which has some nice images and videos from the donations that came in. 

It was amazing really that we could turn this around in such a short time and a big thanks to Sir Richard for being the best delivery man and making all of this happen.

Every tent pitched and every sleeping bag unfurled meant someone didn't have to sleep outside on what was cold nights as we moved towards winter. 

 
This love and care from the EverTrekker community really got to me and it was a testament to what we can achieve when we come together with a shared purpose. 
 
This doesn't mean that the work ends here of course, While we've made significant strides in getting the sleeping bags and tents out there, the road to recovery for these communities is a journey in itself.

Morocco, a country known for its awesome and colourful culture, epic landscapes of the High Atlas and of course the warm hospitality of its people needs our support. 
 
The last thing it needs now is a void of travellers and tourists. This is the lifeblood of the many 100s of communities in the Atlas Mountains, especially in the awesome places we get to visit like Imlil and the trekking routes up to Toubkal. 
 
So as we move forward into the back end of 2023 and into the epic adventures of 2024, there are 2 things I want to say. 
 
Firstly, let's continue to support and travel to Morocco as long as it's safe to do so of course. Things have moved on very quickly with both Marrakesh opening back up again with the Souks as bustling as ever and the trails to Mt Toubkal now back open again. 

I'll be heading out there to climb Toubkal once again next week with another awesome group of EverTrekkers and(Shameless plug here) we've got spaces available on dozens of dates for both the 8-day Toubkal trek and the 4-day Toubkal Weekender in 2024 and beyond.

If you haven't trekked to Morocco, I highly recommend it for altitude first-timers or even those altitude veterans out there, it's got something for everyone.  
 
Secondly, to our EverTrek family. I just want to express my heartfelt gratitude for standing with us during these trying times and supporting our friends, colleagues and a country that gives us so much. I know we've been through some epic challenges already especially during the pandemic times of 2020 and 2021 but your compassion, donations and swift action have made a tangible difference to countless lives. 
 
The efforts will continue as even today, I've been in touch with Sofi at Virgin Unite to see how else we can support the villagers who are still without homes and we'll keep the donation page open for any further donations here as it all helps in the rebuilding of the local High Atlas communities. 
 
So here's to not just trekking up mountains but here's to helping others conquer their own Everest even if that's just having a safe home for their family.

Most importantly let's not let this tragedy define the future of this beautiful nation but be part of it's recovery by just travelling and experiencing this awesome place. 
 
Forever grateful, Head Yeti Andy 
 
Keep EverTrekking 
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Written By

Andy Moore

Head Yeti & CEO