Tibherine East Crash Site – Morocco - Atlas Obscura
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Morocco

Tibherine East Crash Site

An old airplane engine forms an unusual cairn atop this Moroccan peak. 

The summit of  Tibherine East in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, a peak just a short distance below the north ridge of Jebel Toubkal, could be a scene from a Mad Max movie. The mountain is capped with what looks like a mangled alien spaceship, though it’s actually an old aircraft engine.  

In November 1969, a Lockheed L-749 Constellation aircraft was flying from Faro, Portugal, to the island of Sao Tomé. Its eventual destination was the Republic of Biafra, a disputed territory that seceded from Nigeria and existed as an unrecognized independent state from 1967 to 1970.

The plane was carrying ammunition and flying over Morocco at night when the crew experienced engine problems. Shortly afterward, the aircraft disappeared. A few days later, search and rescue operations were suspended when no trace of the aircraft, or the eight people aboard, could be found.

In July 1970, debris of the aircraft were found close to Jebel Toubkal. The plane appeared to have struck the summit of Tibherine East. Parts of the aircraft were strewn all the way down Toubkal’s northwest couloir, and one of the engines was actually embedded in the summit.

Know Before You Go

After climbing Toubkal, the majority of climbers head back down the same route. But for the adventurous mountaineers, there is a longer, more dramatic descent via the north ridge that requires moderate scrambling from the summit. On this trail, just below Toubkal’s main summit, is where you'll find Tibherine East.

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