I thought I would add some older hikes onto the blog as well – the cold weather over the last few weeks has got me thinking of desert air and warmer climes.
Last year I went to Jordan to hike and see Petra and to hike in Petra – I’ll add that at some later date. However, I thought I would put up our longest hike in Wadi Rum. We did get to go on a few walks there, but this was the longest and toughest – the others were relatively quick scrambles, but this one was an all day affair.
One of the issues which haunted us all day was mapping – this image, which I found from the internet, is pretty much identical to the map we were using. I’ve marked the route (well approximate) on the map with the crude red line. Our original route was rather rudely blocked off my a tall wire fence which I assume was put there by the local Bedouin to stop camels/goats getting into the next valley. It meant we had to track back and up a steep slope to cross over the massif to Wadi Rummam.
The going was a combination of rocky slopes to lower grade scrambling with a touch of exposure at times, but nothing that would really warrant ropes unless you are extremely cautious.
This is really where our problems started we had the loose guide to follow the massif round on it’s upper slopes and then over a col and back to Wadi Rum. The trouble is we were seeing cols everywhere and it was just not possible with the map to have any real clue where we were.
The sun was beating down and the climbing had taken it out of us a little; we stopped for food and tried to work out where on earth we were with the vague idea we would have to track back to allow us time to get back to the tents before nightfall. I certainly didn’t want a night out in the desert as we noticed it had got very cold during the night due to the relatively high elevation. I also didn’t want to be shot by someone mistaking me for an ibex in poor light – this was tumbling around in my head due to the level of unnecessary gunfire we’d heard the night before.
We elected to follow another rapidly ascending slope to a col hoping to gain a vantage and find the way over the massif. It was quite frustrating because if the going was easier over the massif we would easily be able to find our way, but it is not to be messed with round there and I think some French climbers had a bad fall with some fatalities recently.
So we climbed – pushing on towards the top trying to be the one who sees the route back. Instead we just see an identical crescent shaped bay of rock with a col at the far end. I remember saying, “Just one more try and then if not we have to go back” which at this point was the most broken of records. Mike agreed nonetheless and we pushed on and had yet another rocky climb and scramble cutting left to avoid some rocks which looked ready to spill. This time we see a valley and at first we think the way back and over enthusiasm leads me to start trying to make our way down. Fortuitously Mike wanted to check around a bluff as he didn’t like the look of the valley we were peering down. He called me round and we, for what seemed eternity, were full of clawing doubt – the kind of doubt where you start pondering about non existent rescue services and wishing you could take bearings a little better. I stared for the longest time and pointed my camera down the valley and saw what seemed to be a road and, yes, a car moving in the distant. Elation. That was time for me to have goofy desert cliche photo you see below.
It was then another 5 miles back to camp and we were pretty beat up and thankful to be back. A group of Saudis were visiting whilst we were having bread, labneh and other bits and pieces we’d bought from a wonderful bakery in Amman. They prayed and then sat by us and we swapped some sticky cakes for tea and shisha – all was right with the world!