Forward3D Climb Mount Toubkal
Transform3D, our philanthropic arm at Forward3D, started November with a bang by embarking on the first international adventure for fundraising our partners Year Here, staying true to our fourth company value of doing some good along the way. A whopping twenty one Forward3D employees from across the company, together with CEO Jack Graham and Service Designer Aviv Katz from Year Here, climbed Mount Toubkal! Standing at 4,167m, Mt Toubkal is the highest peak in North Africa.
Our partnership with Year Here is in it's third full and wonderful year, we are honoured to raise money for a pioneering enterprise that are launching such impactful and fresh innovations that tackle some of society's toughest problems. You can read below where our money goes and learn more about their programme. Before that though, we'd love to tell you about our challenge of climbing this snow-capped mountain, in Morocco’s Atlas Mountain range and on the edge of the Sahara Desert!
Our climb began in the Atlas mountain village Imlil, 1740m, where we were briefed by our guides Hussien, Brahim and Mohammed. We did not know at this point that they would see us through bouts of altitude sickness, dizziness, fainting, broken crampons (these are the spikes one attaches to hiking boots to grip in the snow), they would feed us and motivate us every 7-10 steps on the snowcapped ascent to the top. But we are getting ahead of ourselves…
Our first day was a gradual increase in altitude from Imlil. The terrain was uphill, rocky and dry. Waterfalls carved through the landscape and the mountains loomed like tall curtains in the sky. There was a chill in the air but the sun beat down on us as we walked 6 hours. Layers were stripped, energy gels squeezed, snacks shared, yalla yalla! We had lunch at 2350m, overlooking a very special shrine Sidi Chamharouch. We continued into the late afternoon meeting light snow underfoot as we got closer to our shelter for the night. Nestled in a deep valley of snow we reached the refuge, at approx 3000m. Cold at the sudden drop of temperature we warmed up around the wood burners inside and ate our evening meal sharing our ailments and stories from the day. We rested around 9pm, with folks stepping out into the mountain valley to watch the stars, using various apps to identify the constellations.
Alarms went off at 4am, day two. The refuge walls were damp with condensation in our 23 person dorm room of bunk beds. We groaned at the little sleep we all got, ate our breakfast, packed our bags for what turned out to be a seven hour feat to reach the top of the mountain! We set off head torches alight, crampons slicing the icy snow under foot and tread with concentration along the man-made narrow, single file paths carved into the side of the steep mountain. Breath was heavy and cold, and our steps grew heavier and harder as the sun rose and we ascended. Along the way, crampons snapped and came undone causing us to pause and to keep warm on the spot. The altitude effected us all differently but caused sickness, dizziness, breathlessness and in-turn thoughts of unworthiness and scarcity, low self-esteem. We all had to dig deep for ourselves and for others. We shared gloves, water, protein bars, hugs, warm words of endless encouragement, care and kindness, held hands and cheered one another at each stage.
This is what got us to the top (4167m) - our highly skilled guides and utter compassion, concern and patience with our team mates and ourselves.
Talk about doing some good along the way!
It didn't end at the top. In fact this was only a third of the day, we had to make our way back down the mountain and back to the refuge for lunch. Our route down was punctuated with sore knees and hips, more broken crampons, more altitude sickness, dehydration, more encouragement and hugs. We were tested further as a group when one of our climbers fainted, utterly over-heated and exhausted. Everyone scrambled to support with Jamie Stilgoe coming to the rescue with a life saving innovation: an umbrella (not in the kit-list!) to shield the hot sun from our patient. In the expert hands of our guides, we all made it off the mountain and rejuvenated ourselves with a well-earned lunch, and in some cases, nap!
The rest of the last day was back the way we came, another 6 hours walk through rubble and rocks downhill. We saw mountain goats and passed groups of folks heading in the direction of the refuge on their own journeys to the top. Our feet were battered but we made it back to Imlil in the dark for 8pm, with a whopping 14 hour+ trekking day under our belts. It was a quiet minibus ride back to Marrakech, the sound of silent and humble achievement.
It was an absolute pleasure to climb with the wonderful Felicity Dudley, Rachelle Watson-Hill, Emma O'Sullivan, Lyall Miller, Annemarie Noonan, Emma Cumming, Eduoard Leneveu , Sonali Ohrie, Victoria Guetter, Liliya Rudakova, Fred Ajani, Jamie Stilgoe, Robin Wooler, Mayara De Paula, Irina Smirnova, Neil Morse, Rosie Horsfall, Federico Da Ros, Joshua Pain, Aviv Katz, Jasmin Taylor and Jack Graham.
We are forever bonded! Please give them a huge pat on the back if you see them around the office, for both their achievement of conquering the mountain and for their continued fundraising for Year Here.
Vic, Content Analyst, Locaria
After last year's Tough Mudder, I thought that I can overcome every challenge - but Mount Toubkal tried hard to bring me down to my knees: Suffering over 6h from altitude sickness & two broken crampons made the last 1000m the toughest challenge I ever came across so far.
But together with our three unbelievable caring guides and the cheering support from the hiking fellows, I made it somehow to the peak and back again in one piece. Although it still feels a bit unreal that we all hiked up to 4117m altitude I now know that I can overcome whatever challenges will come across in the future, I just have to remind myself of Mount Toubkal and smile
CEO Year Here, Jack Graham
Wow! that was HARD. I definitely underestimated the sheer physical challenge of climbing Toubkal after a sleepless night in a damp, cold refuge at the foot of the mountain. But the camaraderie, support and laughs of the Forward3D crew was incredible. We at Year Here are hugely grateful for every single team member who pushed themselves to the peak, despite crampon calamities, pulled muscles, altitude-induced sickness, dramatic fainting episodes and plastic bag sledding mishaps. Yalla Yalla!
Lyall, Senior Analyst, F3D
This was the hardest (physical and mental) thing I've ever done but could not have been more rewarding. Was so great to do with such a wonderful group of people, many of whom may not have got the chance to connect with otherwise, and for such an inspiring cause
Robin, Client Services
The trek was one of the hardest but most rewarding things I've ever done, I can't believe it's over and I'm already looking forward to the next adventure. I will never forget the time I had, and the people I did it with
Emma Cumming, HR
The Mount Toubkal trek was one of the most amazing and challenging experiences of my life so far... It has definitely taught me a lot about myself, in particular, what my body and my mind are capable of. There were many moments during the trek where it would be easy to think "I don't need to do this anymore, let's go back!", but when you're climbing for a great cause and with a great group, you're determined to go all the way. I'm very thankful to have climbed with a friendly and positive group. The group showed great support to every climber who struggled, and as a result, we all made it to the top of Mount Toubkal. Bring on the next challenge!!
Initially, I thought this trek would be like any others I've done before, beautiful views and some jokes along the way. Little did I know that in the space of 2 days I'd discover how much more resilient I can be when faced with a big challenge. I am so happy I went on this trip, not only for the life lessons and an overwhelming sense of achievement but for the new friendships I made along the way. Thank you to the amazing team and to Forward3D for organising, it was worth it!
Liliya, Team Lead
I would like to thank Bobbi and the team involved for organising this very unforgettable experience for us. Nothing bonds people as much as overcoming challenges together and this was a perfectly organised challenge. Office feels different now with all these dear people around. Best team building ever!
Edouard, International Sales Manager, Locaria
This was the most amazing Transform3D experience I ever took part in. This trip really highlighted the core values of Forward3D of doing some good along the way. I feel blessed to be a member of such an outstanding team. The main thing I want to say is "Thank you Bobbi" without whom none of it would have been possible. Yallah Yallah Transform3D!
It goes without saying that climbing up Mount Toubkal was one of the most strenuous challenges I have ever embarked on, (which in all honesty I definitely was not fully prepared for) but what surprised me more than the physical effort, was the amount of support, encouragement and genuine care for each other the team displayed. I feel like taking on such a huge challenge alongside people I wouldn't normally cross paths with, has not only helped me build genuine friendships, but also taught me a lot about myself both emotionally and physically. Im so glad no one told me how difficult it would be, because I would have potentially lost out on a immense sense of achievement and an experience I'll never forget.
Fundraising and Where Your Money Goes
Money raised goes directly to the incubator phase of the Year Here programme. This is the phase where Year Here Fellows work to iterate and prototype their venture ideas with real users, going on to pitch them at a crowdfunding event! This aligns neatly with Forward3D’s own fail fast, agile work practice. The funds will grow a steady stream of new ventures that T3D can support, providing plenty of opportunities for you and a real variety of causes to get behind.
If you'd like to donate but don't know which climber to support you can donate to the group Golden Giving page! We really appreciate your support and will see you on the other side!
Finally, Thank You from Year Here.