We, I and Eva, and recently Emlie, have been held up in Jezzine, in southern Lebanon, for about 3 weeks now.
When I got here, I was faced with 4 days of rain. Starting the engines was a little hard. I would bolt only a few hours a day. Finding the correct lines to start a wall is crucial. Those prime lines lead the future development of the wall for others.
I bolted 8,12 and 14 first. Took about 6 days in all, due to the massive cleaning these routes demand.
I had a small army of warrior cleaners come and go. Soon, with those guys hacking away, I was able to get a couple more lines up ground up.
When Eva and Emilie shoed up, they went to work on their own, alongside Nicolas, a local climber and guide. Armed with two drills for them, they put up a couple more routes while I was stuck with the dangerous end of the stick: Moving from anchor to anchor on lead with my gri gri as partner.
We where able to put up over 20 routes. Most of them ground. Most of them with massive blocs the size of Volkswagens as my enemies. Side stepping and high stepping past these beats with RB's and Mexi-Pins (TM).
All told so far, we have put in about 380 bolts. bust out the calculator... Yup. That means on average, the routes here have about 20 bolts. This was my vision. With Uber safe distances between bolts, guides, classes, beginners and self taught experts even, could enjoy safe zone climbing and learn at their rhythms...
After all this effort, its nice to the rain come down and clean the walls, freeing the dust and earth from the pockets, roofs, slabs and jugs that make up some of the features.
The wall is really cool. most routes have multiple roof systems, with big jugs and good feet to lend to easy terrain. Some lines, like Meridian, have this amazing exposure, but with bolts at every meter. The climbing has been referred to as " Mountaineering " or " Alpine " or " Yosemite " without the cost of the plane ticket and the scar of death or dismemberment.
To recacp. This is a great crag. 3 min approach. Lots of new potential for even easier climbs on the right side and a small " School " crag on the left. All anchors are chained and fully equipped for ease of lower and no twists in the rope. ( The way it should be ).
Below, you'll find a short video of the area, and the topo so far. There are a few corrections to be made, but I am in a rush. I want to bolt another line before the rain moves in.
I also need to emphasize that none of this would be possible without the huge support and love from the following people.
Marc, Chloe, Lena, Rami and Ellie @ Lebanese Climbing Association
Jano @ The North Face
Rob and Beth @ Maxim Ropes
Evertt and Jim @ La Sportiva
John @ Petzl USA
Chris, Eric, Grear, Stacey and Karl @ Climbtech
Kati and Rob @ Big Agnes
Daniel @ So iLL
Jure @ Morpho
Eva Moya Prado
Khalil and the Town of Jezzine for the Hotel and Laundry
Guy Parent and Francois Sebastien, my mentors :)
Jean @ Urock
and all the climbers, friends, supporters, Facebook likes, blog hitters, pats on the back, keep going stories, instagram feeds, pro climbers I learned from (Lynn, Alex, Chris, Danny, Jason and the list goes on )
And really, my mom. Without whom I would not be able to wake up everyday, faced with overwhelming opposition, evil doers, negative throwbacks, rage induced defamatory emails to sponsors, and impossible tasks, jealousy and egotistical fear, and then, walk RIGHT THROUGH THEM LIKE YOU DON'T EXSIST, because, at the end of the day, the ones who support me know I always take the ethical moral high road, and leave the table scraps to those who want and war for them and the ones who do not, only make me want it more.
What happens if you tell a 4 year to not eat from the cookie jar?
Because you believe in me and my passion, is the reason I can do what I do without fear of reprisal, disgust or losing a step.
PS. Feel free to come and bolt, guide, take pictures, film, camp, climb and enjoy this area. There are no rules and anyone and everyone is welcome. ;)
Another few weeks have passed. Eva has joined me and Emelie is arriving on the 16th to join Eva, Nicolas and a slew of helpers and motivated peeps to develop a new area in the southern region of Lebanon.
The area is located a few miles from the entrance to the Magnificent town of Jezzine. The area is hidden in the valley floor, and took a few days to find.
Habbib, a speleology pro and local contractor offered to drive me around to look at cliffs as part of the mayor initiative to develop the sport in the area. Of course, I jumped in. On the second attempt, we found this great area. Its about 300 meters wide and 90 meters tall. Most routes are 35m.
Like I have stated before, I was not in Lebanon to bolt 14's ( 8c's ) but to try and help the sport grow. No better way to do that but to get down and dirty and find an area we could put in 40 or so routes of beginner and intermediate range. I have been working the wall for 10 days now. At first alone, but now, more people are showing up daily, armed with drills and hammers, eager to bolt or clean or tread trails.
My drill has been pounding the walls for 10 days now, including 4 days of rain. We have 10 routes up. Mostly lower 6 grades, and one 7c+ or 8a. That was a fluke, I wanted to go under the roof and tread right to avoid the overhang, but the rock was not solid and safe enough, so I finished the tufa line up straight through three roofs. It over hangs about 5 meters over 20. Its pretty rad.
Eva and I started a new wall yesterday and I think we can get a few lines up on this area that will be in the 5 grade which will be great practice wall.
My goal, as it has always been, is to help expand the sport. This area is for everyone. Anyone can come and learn with me, or alone. You can guide, take pictures or film and climb when you want.
If you don't have a drill, you can use mine. If you do not have bolts or hardware, you can use mine. As long as it goes up on the wall in a safe and correct manner, then everyone wins. And like I told everyone who has shown up, if they are not sure, they can ask and its my pleasure to guide you in the safe direction.
I think we will succeed. :)
Here are a few shots of my first days here and the new wall.
Small crag in Bierut. Pretty cool. Kenny and Jess playing around.
Dinner des Con... After a hard day at the new area, beer sounds pretty good to me.
Kenny, Jess and ( sorry, forgot your name ) smiling...
View from the hotel, paid for by the city, in Jezzine. BAM.
A pics sent to me in FB. In Beirut. We will surly put up a couple lines there before leaving this year. :)
My stitches before I pulled em out during my layover in Istanbul.
Bolting the second line at the new area. Ground up. BAM.
4 batteries should suffice...
Turkish Airlines were so cool to accommodate all my 150 kilos of gear on the flight, for free. Much thanks :)
Eva bolts the first line on a new part of the new area. :)
Although I have friends all over the world, and I have met thousands of people in my years on this great blue marble, I feel very alone.
I am in Lebanon today. Tomorrow, who knows, but right now, on the balcony of the hotel, I stare out into the rising sun to the east, watching it creep over the mountain side and cast light onto the valley floor. The coffee mug steams on the banister. I roll some tobacco. Its silent. In the distance the morning chants of the Koran ( not sure what the term is ) clash against church bells. A sort of a war fo sounds. Its actually quit nice. Rhythmic.
I wish all my friends were here. Jai and Marin would bake bread on the burner. Kelley would navigate to the hospital. Jimmy would chatter on about conspiracies. Mike ( RIP ) would sit there with headphones flipping his knife open and close in his black Carharts.
Eva would still be sleeping or washing dishes. Jeb would stand over the battery charger and inspect any gear that would be laying around the room. Jeff would be writing, Jim shooting everything with his camera. Paya would roll and joint and Carlos and Fer would just sit in silence watching us. Ramon would be making vegan food and sorting out the trash into categories.
I wish everyone was here with me. We could climb and have fun and smile. But we are all in other parts of the world right now, doing other things. It saddens me.