In addition to the rest day described in the first part of my report on the student guides’ Grande Traversée, I am delighted to be able to report on another significant development.
Over the past four years, I have been working to find a solution to the horrendous tethering injuries inflicted on mules here in Morocco. It was therefore very encouraging to see the almost universal take up and use of the tethering system that I have developed in collaboration with Professor Hassan Alyakine (see Developing solutions to expedition pack mule tethering injuries in the High Atlas Veterinary Times).
This simple leather sheath is made by the student guides prior to departure. The leather sheath is placed over a loop of rope so that none of its strength is lost. The leather is kept supple with oiling and allows the pressure to be spread over a wider, smoother area. The system is used willingly by the muleteers on trek, without any problems. Most significantly it spreads any load over a wider surface area and protects the mules from rope burns.
This further trialling of the system means that we can now roll it out as a potential humane tethering system for mules working in the High Atlas.
The local women’s co-operative in Imlil is already producing the sheaths and their work will now be quality controlled in collaboration with our partners Montagne Propre. This ongoing process of review and development will allow further improvements to be made to the design and manufacture of the tethering system.
Requests for old climbing rope have already solicited donations from the University of Edinburgh’s Outdoor Education Department. We would invite any climbing or trekking groups heading out to Morocco to contact us in order to make arrangements to donate their old rope. These ropes are easier to cut and seal and their woven external sheath is smoother than the local plastic ropes.
Perhaps most importantly, this project connects with climbers and invites them to think about the pain resulting from rope burn injuries and to do something about it. There will be few climbers unfamiliar with this problem but few would ever have thought that their old rope and a simple leather sheath could actually prevent rope burn!