Ascent of Jabal Bil Ays on 2017-03-19

Climber: James Barlow

Date:Sunday, March 19, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Jabal Bil Ays
    Elevation:6270 ft / 1911 m

Ascent Trip Report

Another successful obscure peak bagged thanks to a port call from my ship! I had originally wanted to climb this peak during a port call to Dubai in July 2013, but had no luck obtaining a willing "liberty buddy" to join me. This time I found 2 willing partners aboard the USS Makin Island, home to my unit, the 11th Marine Expeditionary Potato, represented by our mascot, Mr. PotatoHead, and our call sign "Simple Jack." On the first day in Dubai, we met a local driver who drove us back from the Irish Village. I inquired as to his availability to drive us out to RAK and Jebel Jais on the 19th. He was game and his price was reasonable (once we split it 3 ways). I had another lead on a ride out there, but that one didn't pan out. We are prohibited from driving a car ourselves by the lengthy list of rules that the military/nanny state loves to give us, but there is no ban on hiring a taxi as it is the only way to get around if you can't drive. So, we met our driver at 7am sharp at our hotel in Jumeirah Beach and set out for the mountains of the UAE! We made a pit stop at a roadside gas station for fuel and lunch/snacks about halfway there. As stated in other trip reports, there is an excellent paved road all the way up the mountain now. There is still construction above our trailhead, so we opted for the same route that skirts the ridges used by the McClellans. This is a very pleasant hike along the ridge, mixing goat trails and just plain open terrain. There is one section where the road is too close to the ridge to avoid walking the road, so we made quick work of this section. There are excellent views down on a small farm form here that really stands out as a deep green compared to the rest of the desert terrain. The construction workers never bothered us at all when they passed us or saw us. We went around the minor bump to the worker's camp and stayed clear of it to continue upward. The worker's camp is going to be the sight of the new tourist attraction in RAK: Jebel Jais Resort or something along those lines. It will have the usual kitsch and nonsense. I would also presume that it would make the drive up to this point easier, but may increase the security posture around the sheik's residence and prevent future ascents. We purposely went up towards the sheik's residence well clear of the road to avoid any encounters with the locals. We also used the terrain to mask our movement as we passed below the ridge line east of other ascent routes to remain out of view from the sheik's property. Once we were at the far end of his property near the picnic table there is no way to stay out of view. By this point you are very close to the top. We continued upward to the high point of the UAE on the minor summit of Jebel Jais. We stopped here for lunch and victory photos. After a nice lunch and re hydration break, we continued on to the real summit of Jebel Jais. Sadly, there was no chance that we would continue onward to the local P5k this day (or ever). It was quite a distance away, but more importantly, it is well into Oman, a country which we probably should enter legally. Also, a recent ascent by the McClellans ended in a side trip to an Omani military base, a place that we would definitely not want to end up. The views from the real summit are much better with the cliff dropping away into Oman below us. After a few minutes enjoying it, we headed back the way we came. This time, we went closer to the sheik's residence to avoid any unnecessary gain, as we were less worried about being spotted, since we had already bagged the peak and being turned away was the direction we were headed anyway. We also opted to walk down the main road at this point. As we were walking down, some military guards from the sheik's residence drove up to us and chatted with us. Apparently they are used to seeing crazy foreigners hike up the UAE high point. They were very nice and had no problem with us hiking there. They even drove off, but came back to offer us a ride back down to the worker's camp. From the camp, we retraced our route, but instead of taking the full ridge back, we opted to take the road and then a small wadi straight back towards our waiting driver. He saw us before we reached him and drove a few hundred meters to pick us up. We were surprised at how tired we were after only 15.5 km and about 700-800m of gain. The desert air had left us completely parched even though the temperature was only in the high 70s F. I drank 3 liters on the whole hike and only pissed once! Overall, this was an excellent way to experience the real UAE. Even our driver said that this is the real Dubai, not the malls and fake world that exists closer to sea level to our south. There are a lot of great wadis to hike in this area, and they are all very easy to get to with the new road to Jebel Jais. We had originally hoped to hike a wadi after our peak, but with our lower elevation start, the length of the hike had been longer than expected, so we just headed back to Dubai, arriving at 6pm. That put us at 11 hours for the whole day from hotel to hotel - a worthy day trip from Dubai. Onward to the next port call peakbagging adventure! Pics
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2169 ft / 661 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2169 ft / 661 m
    Start Trailhead:4101 ft / 1249 m
Descent Statistics

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