“The whole experience of climbing is important, not one particular part or moment.” —Scott Backes
Yes, climbing is about going beyond the limits, always pushing the envelope, exploring the unreachable, being first where nobody stood before, following the unknown. Hot Rock Climbing Expedition is all about that – a trip across the entire continent of Africa, Egypt to Cape Town, while exploring never before climbed crags, and putting up new routes on barely touched cliffs.
The group joining this trip was a random mix of climbers from around the world, such as Argentina, America, South Africa, Switzerland, England… from boulderers to sport climbers to big-wall trad climbers. All driven together by the same addiction to “The Edge”.
Arriving in Cairo was a sensual bomb: Camels like timeless ships gracefully sailed along the streets, overweight robed Egyptians trotted by on tiny donkeys, veiled women with even their eyes hidden behind a black mesh, oxen-driven carts, and proud Arabs on rearing stallions.
We crossed the entire Sahara desert while feeling like being cremated alive, and finally arrived at our first climbing destination: Kassala, Sudan. Most times this area remains closed to foreigners due to political unrest as it lies at the border with Eritrea.
The first sight of the cliffs took my breath away. Rising straight up from the endless flat desert, suddenly there are these gigantic 700-foot walls, looking like the El Cap of the Sahara. The name is El Jabal Torteel, and the rock is a true Yosemite-like quality granite. It is the first climbing area in the country, only discovered once before by previous Hot Rock Expedition in 2008. The potential here is endless from bouldering to multi-pitch.
The 120+ degree temperatures deterred us from attempting any of the bigger walls, but we got a good taste of the rock on various bouldermproblems and a few one-two pitch climbs, which were all first ascents. The cracks range from perfect hand-jams to fingers to challenging offwidths with some awesome lay-backing, while the face problems were tricky and powerful.
The views were unbeatable! High above the Sahara desert with the old mosques below our feet, we were climbing to the Islamic chanting calls to prayers every sunrise…
Next stop: Ethiopia, Aksum.
About Hot Rock - Take a Big Red specially converted rock climbing expedition vehicle with a 13-foot bouldering wall on the back. Add 20-25 climbers from all over the world and head off overland around the globe, developing new climbing areas and stopping at the best of the established ones. That's Hot Rock.
Other than existing guidebooks and our own bulging new routes book, we use rock climbing contacts and other local knowledge wherever we go to find and develop the very best crags. Grade is less important than attitude. Are you up for adventurous, unguided climbing and exploring, across the remotest corners of the globe?
On past trips we've put up new routes from Diff to E6, and (according to local ethics) bolted from 5a to 8a. Routes range from single pitch to 1,800 meter big walls.
We've found lost prison mountains and discovered the DWS potential of lakes and cliffs around the globe.
And because you can't always climb Hot Rock - there's an alpine kit on board for those new routes or big ticks above the snowline, too.
Take a tour round the Hot Rock site to read climbing stories and see climbing photos from over 50 countries... And you can join our upcoming Asia and Africa expeditions, too.