Expedition report 4 comes from team photographer and fairly handy climber, Tim Kemple...
There are two types of thugs in this world. Those that will knife you and those that threaten to knife you. Fortunately these were the later.
Its been one of those days for me really. The harshness of the desert has begun to set in --every step calculated, as snakes, spiders, insects, and flesh eating grass seem to be lurking everywhere. Making things more stressful, we’ve broken enough camera gear to keep B&H in business for another year… its almost like our video equipment can feel the stress of the Ennedi as well. Yesterday James and Mark bagged another tower first ascent (The Wine Bottle) so we packed up the 4x4’s and headed deeper into the sand in search of more desert gold.
We have no real system for finding new routes. Just drive for hours across the desert to the next well known landmark and see if the rock is climbable. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so much stone in my life, so at times it can be overwhelming. Its mostly loose sandstone, but there is enough good rock to be found that every turn finds everyone’s eyeballs glued to the windows wanting to be the first to spy the next gem.
That’s how we were yesterday when we ran underneath Aloba Arch, reportedly the biggest land arch in the world at close to 100m. The solid ‘Red Rock’ black faces to either side of the arch were going to be the perfect passport to the summit. We were stoked! Problem is we were also so busy looking up that we hardly noticed the 4 knife wielding teenagers approach from the bushes. At first we thought they just wanted us off their land, but soon it became clear that they wanted to mug us.
Normally I would have been fine leaving my gear for the bandititos, but I forget North Face athletes don’t like being told what to do; so we picked up sticks and got ready to do battle… Fortunately their knives were just threats and they ran into the dusty desert afternoon.
We took off as well, the Delicate Arch of Chad awaits.
Yes, It was pretty scary!