MIDDLE EAST

Israel – Jordan

January, 2014

After so many years of travelling the world and climbing in its most remote places we were looking for something beyond the obvious. The invitation from our friend Or Wechsler came just at the right time. And so, just after Christmas, we were bound for a climbing trip to Israel.

Overwhelmed by Israel’s divergent landscape, from Mediterranean flair to deserts and the low-lying Dead Sea, we followed a tight schedule of climbing, exploring and sightseeing.

We spent our first day of climbing at the Enfarra canyon, east of Jerusalem. Tourists who visit Enfarra in summer cherish the place for its pools and basins along the creek that seeps away in the adjacent desert. Both sides of the canyon offer an abundant number of routes. The climbing is slightly overhanging and technical yet sometimes rough and sharp. The area, which has seen a closure over the last years, has just been re-opened and new and hard climbs up to 8b+ were added. Nevertheless, Enfarra belongs to a closed settlement and is part of a nature reserve, which requires visitors to leave before 6 pm.

One hour drive, north of Haifa, we climbed at a place called Keshet Cave. The routes there had just been bolted and we were among the first bunch of people to climb them. The quality of rock was impressive and the climbs steep and sustained. When the sun set in the Mediterranean the roofs and arches were lit by the red sky.

Visiting climbing areas or cities like Bethlehem and Eastern Jerusalem we had to cross the border of the West Bank and sometimes we lined up for entries into closed Jewish settlements. Walls, fences and a high military presence left us surprised but mostly aggrieved. Needless to say, people of both sides want to live their ordinary lives.

Our visit of Jerusalem coincided with the festivities of the first Sabbath of the New Year. Squares, alleys and corners were filled with devout believers from around the World. We followed the stream of people to the Western Wall where the Friday prayers of the neighboring mosques gradually transitioned into the chants of the celebrating Jews.

We have to thank our Israeli friend for the lasting impression of the country. He elaborated on the daily life in Israel and took us climbing to the best spots. We got to see Jerusalem’s busy markets and enjoyed Tel Aviv’s vibrant nightlife. In the end, we got far more than just a usual climbing trip.

For the grand finale, we crossed Israel to the south, entered Jordan via Eilat/Aqaba and spent the rest of our trip doing multi pitches in Wadi Rum.

Check out Elias Holzknecht’s website: woodslave.com

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