In February 2023, London-based photographer Thomas Lohr journeyed through Morocco, deciding to take a hiking trip in the Atlas Mountains. Choosing Imlil as the destination felt like the obvious choice, taking only 2 hours to drive from the the effervescent atmosphere of Marrakesh and the promise of a thrilling encounter with the great outdoors. There, professional mountain guides offered to help him navigate through the wonders of the area. These local guides, typically men of Amazigh ancestry, are renowned for their exceptional hospitality and deep connection to nature and the land.

The men were all blending iconic traditional garments with high-performance, well-worn Salomon shoes. Smoothly and confidently moving through the hostile but fascinating environment. This effortless combination immediately caught Lohr’s eye. As conversations went by, the guides shared how they adapted to the job and territory.

“For us, the woollen jellaba is essential: it shields us from the cold and is the most comfortable piece of clothing. Our culture always keeps functionality in mind. We wear Salomon because the shoes are enduring, light and they keep us safe. We never slip, so we can go wherever we need to take our clients. This is how we deliver best.” Inspired by their outlook on mountain gear, the photographer proposed that Salomon join him on a creative adventure in the High Atlas. The French brand provided the group with pieces from the ADVANCED collection. With its deep roots in history, ADVANCED reflects decades of trial, discovery and transformation, incidentally bridging the gap between tradition and technical avant-garde. Thomas Lohr meticulously crafted a visual story of photos and a video, where 5 men take centre stage: Hussein, Abdelhamid, Mohamad W., Mohamad A. and Abdelaziz.

This projected resulted in a series of ethereal images that showcase the locals’ alternative interpretation of outdoor performance, capturing a captivating dialogue between traditional legacy and modern technology. The collection of photographs and video serves as an ode to the peaceful wilderness of Imlil, the vastness of the Atlas mountain range and the Moroccan way of life at altitude.

Fast forward to September 8th, 2023, at 10:11 pm.
A 6.8-magnitude ‘zelzal’ (earthquake in Tamazight and Arabic) shakes Morocco, with the epicentre in Ighil village, affecting the Al-Haouz region. Tourism-dependent families suffered the most as guest houses, artisanal shops, vans, and restaurants were demolished or damaged. Yet, Moroccan solidarity shined through, with donations pouring in globally. “This is what helped us push through. Feeling seen and supported. It gave us hope! Better days are ahead. But for now, we need to get by, one day at a time. We need to get tourists and athletes back” says 34-year-old driver Rachid, with a resilient smile on his face.

Three months later, Imlil is ready to welcome back visitors, with hotels, transportation, and cafes restored. Guides resume exploring, anticipating year-end visitors. When asked about his hopes for the future, Redouane says he is committed to Imlil developing the same status as Chamonix in France. Activities range from winter ski touring to summer hiking, biking, and swimming in Ifni Lake.

For 15 years, the ‘Sport Nature et Développement’ association has been hosting North Africa’s number one trail race in Morocco — Ultra Trail Atlas Toubkal. In addition to the event itself, UTAT aims to support the development of the High Atlas region. In the wake of the earthquake, the UTAT team launched an extensive initiative to supply all the homes in the valleys along the race route with tents, sleeping mats and duvets. The project is progressing with the help of an online fundraising campaign. You can discover & donate on their website.

creative director CHRIS GLICKMAN
photographer THOMAS LOHR
production CLARS REA
local producer RACHID AIT BRAIM
special thanks to RADOUANE ISOUKTAN