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Caroline George and Team Scout New Lines for First Ascents in Jordan
Posted on February 22, 2011

By Caroline George; photos by Jim Surette/GraniteFilms.com

Finding an unclimbed line is the ultimate adventure. Be it on snow, ice or rock, the equation is still the same: You have to rely solely on your experience and technical knowledge and hope that these two skills will suffice to overcome the unknown.

There are many established new lines in Jordan. When the first climbers arrived, all they needed to do first ascents was to hike to the closest walls and climb the obvious lines that hadn’t been climbed at that point. Once all the cracks were climbed, they had to jump in a 4×4—or ride a camel—to more remote walls to find other options for first ascents.

Upon arriving in Wadi Rum, I asked our local connection, Attayak Aouda, if there were any unclimbed lines left in Wadi Rum. He replied that he would take us to a very remote area where there was a perfect corner to climb.

He picked us up early morning and drove us to within a few kilometers of the Saudi Arabia border. We had an interesting talk about the turn of events in the Middle East, which has been of concern to us before and during this trip. Each day, we look at the news on our Kindles and the news isn’t always settling. In his words, up until now, the heads of Middle Eastern countries have sat glued to their throne, but now, “No more glue!”

An hour later, we were at the base of the promised route: a dark corner on patina rock, which angled up right through a slot and onward to the top of a tower. Dark rock is a good sign on sandstone; it shows that water runs down the face regularly, solidifying the rock. We looked through binoculars and decided to spend the day getting a feel for it. Sarah and I geared up and started climbing.

The bottom of routes here in Jordan is always a little loose, and we encountered some really challenging rock. Sarah did a great job overcoming such loose and wide climbing. Looking up, the rock looked a little better, and we decided that we would come back after some well-deserved rest time in Aqaba.

We left anchors in place and rappelled back down. Now we are committed to going back. The upper pitches are a complete unknown. We could get shut down, but it might go. First ascents are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!

Author: - Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
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