The expedition starts with one of the world's great destinations: the legendary rock climbing in Wadi Rum. Every visitor and climber will be overawed upon entering the Wadi. The crimpy black and red cliffs soar out of both sides of the valley, offering everything from overnight mountaineering expeditions to the summits, to surging cracks and terrifying face lines. There are plenty of easier offerings, many of them early Bedouin trade routes, and also some sports routes. Some classics of the earlier development of Wadi Rum, such as 'The Beauty', 'Merlin's wand' and 'Alan and his Perverse Frog,' provide a nice introduction to the climbing, being typical of Wadi Rum with their sparse protection but fantastic situations.
Later additions such as the 22-pitch E4 'Strubel Peter' offer massive outings. There are also some hard single pitch sports routes dotted around the Wadi for those needing some finger pain. We will have lots of time to explore the area fully, and tick many of the routes that have caught our eye, before we hit the road, and make our way to Petra, the 'rose red city, half as old as time'. More famous for being the temple in the final scenes of ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,’ Petra is actually a huge lost city and in my view the most impressive ruin anywhere in the world.
There is a famous magazine front cover of Don Whillans climbing the square-cut notches next to the treasury back in the 60's, at the invitation of Jordan’s King Hussein, to explore the myth of treasure in the urn at the top of the temple. It did indeed prove to be but a myth, but this doesn’t diminish the splendour of Petra, nor the impact it will have on you. On the last expedition to visit Petra, we found an uncommon route in, via a beautiful remote gorge that required exposed grade 3 scrambling for several kilometres before appearing in a little known corner of the ruins.
After Petra we drive south, across the border into Egypt, heading straight to Dahab on the Red Sea coast of the Sinai peninsula. Dahab is one of the best places in the world to kick back and relax, dive and explore the stunning Sinai mountains. For those not feeling lazy, Dahab has lots of things to do, with some of the best scuba diving and snorkelling anywhere, it's a cheap place to get your PADI certificate. Before we head into the interior of the mountainous Sinai peninsula, we will spend a day or so on the bolted routes at Wadi Gnai, just outside of Dahab.
Sinai has not seen the development of the other major Middle Eastern climbing venue, Wadi Rum, but it has at least as much rock. There are a number of bolted sports climbs in the area, and in contrast, vast unclimbed faces to be attempted with a sense of adventure and a full rack. We will base ourselves near the monastery for a while to attempt such routes as 'Billy the Kid' or 'Joshua three'. The potential for trekking and exploration in the area is also huge; the highest mountain in Egypt, Mt St Catherine, is a long day’s walk. One option is to go on a fantastic 4-5 day camel trip southwards through the desert all the way to Sharm El Sheikh.
Camping out in the desert at night with our local guides and trusty ‘ships of the desert’ we will explore the multitude of rock walls and canyons for new routes and repeat the routes put up by previous camel explorations. And the epic adventure will carry us on to Cairo, Africa's largest city. Cairo itself? Some love it, others hate it. It's a huge heaving hectic city where nothing works and the noise of car horns necessitates ear plugs, or surgery upon leaving. But there is plenty to see and do, be it visiting the citadel, the ancient Arabic quarter or the many bazaars and roadside cafes.
A visit to the Cairo museum is a must, to marvel at the jumble of ancient Egyptian art and Tutankhamen’s solid gold funeral mask. After a couple of days in the city we will take the truck out to the Pyramids at Giza, one of the true wonders of the world. As you wander past the Sphinx and gaze in awe at these colossal monuments, time stands still and, as a climber the one over-riding thought in your head will be, can I climb them? The answer is no, in theory, as the many signs boldly say. Those few who do sneak up claim it's about a V.diff (5.4) set of mantles and high steps that lead to a view that's hard to beat.
And this is the end of Stage 1 of Africa. We'll have a huge final night party, to bid farewell to some and hello to others, before pointing our nose south up the Nile, out of the Middle East and into Africa...
Prices include food, accommodation, transport and most national park fees throughout Africa. You need to add visas, insurance, flights and beer! I can provide further info on all this on request.
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Middle East Jordan Egypt Outdoor: Mountain Ranger Mountain/Rock Climbing Desert Expeditions
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