Since the 1930s alpinists have explored the High Atlas mountain range in Morocco. But with a boom in ski tours offering treks to the highest and most remote peaks, its now easy to get more snow for your money.
The Atlas Mountains stand between Marrakech (pictured) and the Sahara. Fifty miles from the city is the country's premier resort Oukaimeden, where weekenders and daytrippers buckle up and explore the relatively quiet ski area.
Low lying clouds obscure views of the Sahara for a skier in Oukaimeden. Topping out at 10,603 feet, the resort's skiable terrain is even higher than Val Thorens in France, one of Europe's most snow-sure destinations.
A skier catches some air in Oukaimeden on a bluebird day.
People walk on a slope at in Oukaimeden. As well as being a draw in the winter months, the area's cool climate is popular in the summer with Moroccans and tourists looking to escape the heat down in Marrakech.
Houses in Taghzirt, an isolated village in the High Atlas. Remote communities play a part in ski trekking, says Adrian Nordenborg of Pathfinder Travels, helping transport equipment and supplies along paths through the mountains.
If you're skiing in Morocco, expect to see donkeys and mules. They'll be loaded with supplies for treks, and if you're skiing in Oukaimeden you can catch a ride on one to the lifts.
Barbary macaques are tough creatures and not averse to the snow that inundates the High Atlas each winter.
A Moroccan man sits on the roof of his house. Ski tours often stay in refuges in the mountains; basic shelters with bunk beds and maybe a hearth from where parties can explore each day.
The most adventurous trekkers can scale Jbel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa, and descend from near its peak at 13,671 feet. It may be rocky at the top -- and windy, says Nordenborg -- but there's soft, dry powder in the couloirs beneath.
While skiing took off in Morocco during the French protectorate, there aren't many established ski resorts -- perhaps due to the short season and lack of commercial viability. But an increasing number of skiers are gravitating towards the High Atlas, says Nordenborg, with many touring.
On clear days skiers can see not only the arid pre-Sahara but catch a glimpse of sand dunes in the far distance.
A skier deep in the backcountry with Heliski Marrakech. The company drops skiers in terrain above and around the village of Setti-Fatma in an area ski treks seldom venture.
A helicopter, guided by a French pilot, takes skiers from the balmy valley floor to the snow in a mere 25 minutes.
Hervé Favre, founder of outdoor specialists Evolution 2, which runs Heliski Marrakech, says the novelty of skiing in Africa hasn't diminished. He adds that the High Atlas' relatively mild climate provides skiers with the best of both worlds: dry powder then soft spring snow in quick succession.
Heli-skiers can expect to squeeze in 3-4 runs a day, each approximately 3,300 feet in length.