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Ascent of Gebel Katherîna on 2021-10-09

Climber: Matt Dougherty

Date:Saturday, October 9, 2021
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Gebel Katherîna
    Location:Egypt
    Elevation:8625 ft / 2628 m

Ascent Trip Report

Fay and I left UAE from Abu Dhabi day after summiting Jabal Bil Ays, or Jabal Jais, not sure which name is accurate.

After a couple days in Giza our hosts drove us out to Alexandria to see some sights and spend the night before a flight out to Sharm el Sheikh and into the Sinai mountains.

Our uber to take us to the airport bailed on arrival because he had to go to work and the airport was 90 minutes away according to him. Not good because our gate closed in 95 minutes. Fay stuck with the bags while I ran around Al Mandara looking for a taxi at 6am. First one I saw after 10 stress filled minutes waved me off. Starting to panic I looked down the way and saw one sitting opposite traffic taking a break. I waved frantically and he rolled up. Luckily he understood enough English to get that we were very late and he needed to move very fast. I typed Borg El Arab Airport into google maps so I could make sure our driver went the right way and also to stress the clock. 80 minutes away. Gate closes in 75.

Our driver tore out of Maamoura Beach like a bat out of hell. Even for Egypt he was going fast and furious. Good. Yalla yalla yalla were gonna miss the plane.

I look back at Fay and shes sleeping through all of this next to the luggage in the back seat. Even better.

Taxi driver ripped down the coastal road, overtaking, lane splitting, ignoring all traffic signals. Up ahead a parade is being set up for 6th of October celebrations, road cuts down to 2 lanes.... except for our car. Right into the pylons and through the area where a giant Egyptian flag is being unfolded by a group of cadets. A traffic police starts waving angrily, driver waves back and cuts back into traffic just as the road block comes to an end. I look down at google. This move bought us 15 minutes back.

We make it to the highway and things really pick up. Driver slams the car into top gear and we're now going 155 kph, probably top speed for the little Fiat. I keep watching the ETA drop at a rate of almost 2 minutes to one vs our flight time. Gonna make it.

After clearing the security checkpoint at the entrance to Borg el Arab we slide up to the front of the airport. 10 minutes to go, and a long line in the way. Not to worry, our driver already has this handled. He grabs a porter, says something in Arabic to him. The man nods. Driver tells me to give him 100 egyptian pounds, he will help us from here. I pay our taxi driver who I never managed to get a name from and tip handsomely. He offers me a cigarette. I quit almost 10 years ago but given the situation considered it, then declined.

I pay the porter and he grabs our bags and we follow. He cuts the line and gives some cash to security, they immediately check our passports and reservations and send us through. Same deal at the metal detectors and bag check. Holy s### we're gonna make it. We walk up to the check in desk just as the woman is getting ready to close. She gives me and Fay a very unimpressed look but gets our tickets and sends the bags down the conveyor. Made it. We slide into our seats and catch an hour of restless plane sleep before the drive to st kathrine.

After landing and collecting our bags we stepped out into the arrivals parking lot of Sharm el Sheikh airport. What a contrast from Cairo and Alexandria. Not a screaming mob of cabbies, just a few drivers waiting patiently. We met up with Mohammed from Bedouin Camp and he walked us to the car. Cars are nicer out here too, and not banged up like in Cairo. Quickly I realized that's because there is nothing out here to hit. The road was almost deserted the whole 2.5 hours except for the checkpoints (we passed 6). We took the day to wander town and relax and set up tomorrow's hike.

A guide is required to take you up to the mountains in sinai protectorate. I figured maybe it was to keep idiots from graffiting, vandalizing and littering around the range, but also it helps support the Jebilya bedouins in the area who pretty much live the same lifestyle they have for centuries, just some of them have cell phones and cars now.

Me and my guide Mohammed (not the same one who drove us and set up the guide) left camp at 845a. Mohammed was probably in his 60s, was wearing low top skate shoes to hike in, and was chain smoking cigarettes the whole way. Despite all this he demanded to carry my bag and was having no trouble keeping a solid pace. We passed a other group from camp who left a couple minutes before us, and before long they were far behind us.

We stopped after about 90 minutes for Mohammed to roll some smokes from a tin he carried of Bedouin tobacco (looked like weed to me, but he told me before I could even ask "not marijuana" and it smelled way too awful when burning).

The second group caught us having left a member behind at the garden down in the valley. We all proceeded together the remainder of the way. Myself, an egyptian from Cairo, and an American traveller originally from North Carolina.

Total time to top was 4h15m with 45m of breaks, 4h down. We arrived back at camp just as the moon rose over the mountains.

Fay had spent the day hiking the valley and visiting the monastery. Tomorrow we drive back to Cairo for a night train to Aswan then it's a cruise up the nile and a couple rest days in Luxor before home.



Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3609 ft / 1100 m
    Round-Trip Distance:19 mi / 30.6 km
    Trailhead:Bedouin Camp  5016 ft / 1528 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 



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