Saturday, June 26, 2010

Graffiti Rock

The most significant historical place I have visited in Riyadh is Graffiti Rock. It is little more than a large piece of stone in the middle of the desert with what are more or less cave drawing on it. These drawings are a few thousand years old.
The rock was easily climbed. One member of our group spotted a desert fox on the top, but it ran away before anyone else could see it. Next to the rock, there is a ancient tomb, however we were unable to locate it. While searching for it I saw a desert Owl, but failed to get any pictures. Just before we left I was climbing down a hill and dropped a large stone onto my ankle. Luckily my ankle won that contest and broke the stone into a few pieces, without breaking. It did get pretty swollen and some cuts, but other than that it was fine.

Graffiti on the rocks

The pile of rocks with Graffiti

The coordinates are +24° 18' 58.23", +45° 38' 25.84"

Camel Riding

Today I decided I have been in Saudi Arabia long enough without having ridden a camel. So after work I grabbed a few of the guys and headed down to the camel souk. It isn't much of a tourist place, and there really isn't a place to go and just get on a camel, it is more a place for the sale of camels. Some costing over 1million USD. (The ones in the background of this picture)

There was a guy riding his camel somewhere. So we stopped him and asked if we could ride it and get some pictures. It was a good quick trip.

Mission accomplished.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cat Wall Revisited

Went climbing with AJ again today. For a change we had a third with us, a Ausie named Jason. This was nice because it gave us the chance to get some pictures, as you can see below. We also did some bolting of our new route. The new drill didn't work as well as the one we used last time but we managed to get two new bolts in.

We also did the Trad route today. It is a pretty easy climb but it is fun to mix it up.

This was the first time I made it clean up the route. The first picture below is me finally making the move that has given me so much trouble.

Sticking the move

Belay for Jason (new Fisheye lens)

Setting new bolts

You can find "Cat wall" at these corrdinates +24° 40' 5.52", +46° 36' 38.88". There is also good info here

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sand Boarding

There is little opportunity to snowboard in the desert, so lately I have had to turn to the next best thing, Sand board. Unfortunately I didn't pick up this past time until March, when the temperatures were already starting to climb. I brought the board out one while ATVing but I had no wax and it was the wrong type of sand. The next time I went out, I couldn't find anybody else to go out with me. Also I was lacking in a off road vehicle. This resulted in a lot of walking, and being close to the road. A Saudi man did arrive in a four wheel drive truck, and he offered to drive me around, but he seemed sketchy. Also this was an exploratory journey, the main purpose was testing equipment.
The first time out

The next few times out I managed to pull one of my coworkers along. The one time we tried renting ATVs. Unfortunately the only ones available were 100cc. These were very slow and could only make it up the least steep hills. Also the hills we were trying to board down too steep for the sand to be packed right. After a few feet the boards would bury in the sand and stop.

Another time we went out first thing in the morning after a night rain storm. The same steep hills from the time with the ATVs were ride-able because the wet sand formed a crust.

Now its June and the sun rises too early to head out at first light. A few days ago we decided to try sunset instead. To our surprise the sand was relatively cool. This was the first time we tried the sand sleds. I managed to convince 5 other people to join me on this trip. They all had a good time despite many falls. I hope to get back at least one more time before I take off from Riyadh next month.

Riding as the sun sets

Sand Sled

The coordinates are 24.366019, 46.287289

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Desert Caves

Today right after getting off work at 6 in the morning, headed out to the desert to do come caving. Gave me a chance to use some of my gear. The open part of the cave goes down about 200 meters, then it closes up and heads down another 100 meters before the water starts.
As soon as we arrived we were lucky enough to spot two desert owls flying near the opening to the cave. The roof of the cave was covered in quartz crystals making it sparkle whenever out lights hit it.
I'm a little disappointed in myself for not getting in the water, which I'm told goes down another 30 meters or so. The top of the water was covered in dust and didn't look very inviting. I still have a few weeks to go back and redeem myself, and get some more pictures.
Just above the water there is a crack that runs horizontally for a few 100 meters. We only traveled past the first small crawl through. This area was surrounded by many sharp rocks and flakes of the quartz.
Overall it was a fun way to spend the morning, even if it meant skipping sleep for the day.

Here are the coordinates for anyone interested in going
N24° 29' 7.50", E46° 59' 48.78"

View of the open part to the cave from near the top.

Update went back to the cave yesterday morning to do some swimming and more exploring. The water is cool and about 40 meters deep as far as I could tell. Also there was graffiti about 20 feet under the water, suggesting it was a lot lower at one point in the recent past. Also the horizontal cave continued about twice as far as we traveled the first time before becoming very hard to pass.

Swimming underground

Group Shot