Wadi Rum

25 02 2011

2011_02_19 08_51_50I managed to flee Egypt and have arrived in Jordan. This seemed like a good idea given what was happing in Egypt, but it sounds like the situation in Egypt has calmed considerably – the focus is now on Libya, Tunisia, Iran, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq… No, I’m not going to Libya or Yemen, although I’ve met some people recently (in hostels) who have been. What I’m doing might be crazy; those guys are nuts (if nuts is more crazy than plain crazy).

2011_02_19 10_50_31The trip out of Egypt was relatively easy – only frustrating. I got up and left early to conquer the hill and headwind and arrived pretty much as the ferry was planning to leave (to get from Egypt to Jordan you need to take the ferry from Nuweiba, Egypt to Aqaba, Jordan – the only other possibility is to go overland via Israel which would leave me with an Israeli stamp, or conflicting exit and entry stamps for Egypt and Jordan, in my passport and hance no possibility of visiting Syria or Iran). So the ferry was getting loaded soon after I cleared customs, and quickly filled up with mostly Egyptians and Jordanians. This was around 2pm.

Everyone sat around patiently. 3pm – this was the designated departure time (as was 2pm, 4pm and 8pm, depending who you asked) Still patient. 4pm. Nothing happening. 6pm. Hey, it’s dark now and we should be practically there. What’s up? The locals were still calm. 8pm. Come on!

Some mysterious criteria was met at 8:30pm (only 6.5 hours later) and we were underway. The crossing takes 4 hours so we arrived after midnight, and some genius had decided my bike should be tucked up the back – hence I was last off. Around 2am I cleared immigration/customs and had a bit of a ride into Aqaba, and then found a place to sleep. The most frustrating part is that from Aqaba you can see Taba, Egypt which is maybe 5km across the gulf. A ferry from there might take 1/2 an hour, but I doubt they would be able to justify the (ridiculous) cost of 70USD then. I could have ridden to Aqaba faster (if it weren’t for the Israeli passport stamp problem). But this is completely normal; others who have taken the same ferry have stories with longer delays than mine. I guess I should be grateful that the ferry is running (unlike the Hurghada – Sharm el-Shaik ferry).

2011_02_21 11_15_19I decided to visit Wadi Rum, since it was very close to Aqaba. At least that’s the way the map showed it. 80km, and well over a thousand high meters later and I staggered into Wadi Rum (in the dark… again). Luckily I met two Austrian climbers, Matthias and Niki who fed me and I crashed. The next day, those same climbers took me into the desert and showed me a scrambling route to the top of a mountain while they went off to climb a route that they had spied a few days ago (a first ascent they think). I scared myself silly soloing the route that was graded a III-IV (whatever that meant). I later worked out it was a walking route with the odd short pitch of (Australian) grade 8-10 – certainly not hard, but I haven’t been on rock for… 4 years? There was one part that I couldn’t bring myself to down climb so I just jumped – over a crevasse onto a small ledge. It seemed safer at the time. I didn’t reach the very top because the very final part was tricker (maybe grade 12), but I couldn’t see a way to down climb it safely. Sure I could have jumped, but if I slipped/tripped it’d be a very fast descent… Weich Ei climber has returned. But I did get some great views and had fun (on the easy bits).

2011_02_22 11_48_10The next day Stefan and Peter, along with Matthias and Niki were going to climb / scramble up to Jebel Rum – the highest peak in the region (and for a long time thought to be the highest in Jordan). They were going to take a ‘Bedouin Route’, ie a route that the Bedouin people have been using for years to go hunting and collect water and firewood from the top of the mountain. Barefoot and without any protection. It sounded like I should be ok on a route like that – and we had sandshoes and ropes. They invited me to come along, so of course I did. And again scared myself silly. The other guys were much better climbers (climbing 23-24 from what I could gather), so they generally soloed up the short pitches that involved climbing, while I stood around bleating for the rope please. They were more than patient and only told me to do it myself on one crevasse jump (they still helped m2011_02_22 14_07_34e there, but I only managed it by absolutely not looking down until after). Because I needed help on every part that was remotely exposed, we took 5 hours to the top and about 3 down an abseil route (luckily I didn’t freak out on any of the abseils). We finished before dark. And by the end my legs were rather sore (I haven’t done all that much walking, and no climbing, in the last months). And I would be lying if I didn’t say it was great to back on the ground by the end, although the view was awesome.

So I had a different experience of Wadi Rum to many – I didn’t drive all around the desert in a 4×4 or ride out on a a camel and then camp out in the desert with the Bedouin, but I did see it from above.

With legs so tired that I struggled to lift my leg to get on my bike, I left the next day to tackle the ride to Petra. I’d been warned it was a killer, and it was. To make it more fun, somewhere along the line I’ve picked up a cold, so I’ve opted for not one, but two rest days before heading out to explore Petra (hopefully that’s enough). On the way up to Petra I met a Catalan cyclists who told me about a British cyclist staying in Petra. So I met Mark and we had a good chin wag. It’s strange to suddenly start to meet cyclists again – although this is another part of the world where there are limited options for cyclists, the Kings Highway forms a bit of a funnel.

It’s getting colder. Sure we’re at altitude (~1300m), but perhaps I should slow down so I don’t ride back into winter…

Escalada de hielo

25 07 2007

He he. That was fun.

Yesterday Ol, Jess and I spent the best part of the day at 5000m, climbing the face of a glacier. Luckily it was only a small glacier, but bashing up it with the ice tools and crampons is fun. But that was on top rope – who knows how much I’d enjoy it leading a few thousand meters off the deck. Perhaps we’ll never know. It was fun anyway. If I manage to get to Canada for winter, I may have found something to keep me entertained.

And Ol and Jess left last night, for skiing further south. Hopefully they enjoy that – no doubt they will. And thus ends phase II of my trip. (phase I was pre Ol and Jess, phase III will be getting to Iquitos). So on that note I’ve got a ticket for tomorrow morning out of Huaraz. I’ll go back to Trujillo and then mosey north.

I can’t be too quick though, today is the celebration of 150 years since Huaraz was founded – hence there was a bit of a party last night. After climbing and being up early, I crashed at 12:30, but I got woken by the fireworks at 2am. Pity I missed it, it sounded like a hell of a raucous… But I think one party that cannot be missed is the Peruvian independence day on the 28th – all the locals have been preparing for some time for this one – painting buildings, etc. A big town is in order in a few days time.

Climbing in Huaraz

19 07 2007

Ol, Jess and I have returned from climbing at over 4000m. It is certainly a lot tougher at altitude. The barometric pressure at the refugio we stayed at was 610 mbar – there is only 60% of the atmospheric pressure for us to breathe! The climbing was pretty good, but I lost interest on the second day after Jess took a pretty big fall. i just couldn’t get keen after that.

A few days were enough, and now we are recovering from a Mexican dinner and enjoying being warm. But only briefly, tomorrow morning we are off on the most popular trek in the area – a four day jaunt in the mountains.

Sorry for the brief post, it’s late.

Surprise surprise

28 05 2007

The training climbing / surfing trip didn’t happen on Sunday. So I read, moped around, juggled, slept, walked and… well I guess you could only call it relaxed.

Climbing tonight was on though! Except the people I expected to be there, weren’t. But others were, so it’s all good.

A few days ago I decided to start my holiday proper (after climbing, messing about and having fun near Lima with Ol and Jess) in Ecuador. I have no special reason why there exactly, but it makes a lot more sense than starting in Terra del Fuego in August. Yesterday I decide that flying from Lima to Santiago to ski for a week, and then flying right back on my way to Ecuador, and then travelling back down the country overland didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It would be great to ski with Ol and Jess, and I hope that by piking now I’m not ruling myself out of future trips (although I might be). C’est la vie.

I got an electronic copy of my passport photo from my housemate (who is a pro photographer if you are in Brissy and need a wedding taken). I thought I’d place it on Flickr. Yes, it’s me. See?

GRUBbing about

20 05 2007

Today has been a great day. 6am I was at the house of Andrea and Es, and sometime later we were joined by Ben, picked up Anders on the way and we were off. Up to the Sunshine coast for a surf first thing. Since I’ve only tried once on my own, I had limited chance of actually catching a wave, but I gave it a shot (for an hour or so) and manged to ride the wash in a few times. I reckon I could get that pretty easily if I lived where there are waves.

Then we drove to Mt Tibbrogargan in the glasshouse mountains for some climbing. We went to slider wall, first up I hacked my way up a grade 10 lead (The Fires of Jealousy) (easy, easy but difficult to get the head around leading again). It was sport leading, so not really leading but good to be above the rope again. And then some top roping on Blowing Bubbles, 17, and top roped Monkey Swallows The Universe, 14 which seemed easy enough to lead, so I did. Then the current challenge was to try Pigsy, 21 – I got up after a few sits in the harness (that didn’t feel hard enough to be a 21). Anyway, there was plenty climbing, and it was good day. Some photos were taken, but not by me, so I can only post them when I get them. (ed – some are on Flickr now)

Met Tina at the cliffs again. It appears the climbing community in Queensland is rather small. The people I met also know her. Honest, I’m not stalking her! She had a story to top mine by miles. After having climbed with Missy Higgins (yes, The Missy Higgins) she got invited to her concert on Friday night. Right place, right time 🙂 Good on her. Lucky bugger.

How does this relate to the trip? Climbing training for Peru. I’d better get real good, real quick if I want to keep up.