Climbing Community Lebanon

Lebanon’s cliffs are a haven for a growing community of dedicated climbers

 

It’s a warm morning and I am savoring the heat of the sun as I follow Zan

Chediac along a rocky trail down a steep

descent into the valley of Aamchit, North

Lebanon. Dodging thorns he finds the

right path and after a half-hour hike

the amber cliffs come into view. The

Aamchit crag, a majestic beauty dubbed

the Dreadrock by local climbers, awaits

us. “The climbing routes here range from

level 5 to 8,” explains Chediac, a 20-year-old

biology student and percussionist

who spends most of his spare time rock

climbing. “And more routes are being

added all the time, it’s an on-going

effort,” adds Tony Dagher, a fellow

climber.

While they take out their climbing gear,

I walk along the steep ridge to see what

the other climbers are up to. High up I

spot a guy, armed with bolts, climbing

up swiftly. Hanging on to a rock with

the fingertips of his left hand, he takes

out a drill with his right hand and bores

a hole to place a bolt to expand the

route. Where he finds the energy from

is beyond me, but he does, fueled by

the voice of singer Peter Tosh sounding

out from a phone attached to his belt

…“but if you know what life is worth,

then you would look for yours on earth…”

The guy is George Emille, a 24-year-old

audiovisual student, who lives in

Aamchit.

“I cannot really remember when I

began climbing, ” Emille tells me after

touchdown. Calm and serene, he just

smiles when I compliment his bolting

efforts, looking up towards the cliff

obviously more focused on his next

climb than flattery. “So why is this crag

called Dreadrock?” I ask him. “ Take a look,

“he says pointing up to the straggling

hanging rocks, “what do they resemble?”

Mmm, I get it, dreadlocks. His gaze does

not leave the rock and it’s clear that he’s

pondering his new route, “his project”

his friends call it. Four years ago Emille

and the guys used to just top rope down

into the valley. None of the rocks had

been bolted yet. “We used to spend days

just looking at the cliffs dreaming about

bolting routes.” 20 routes later, he is still

dreaming and always looking to add new

experiences.

 

“I wanted to raise awareness for the Incredible climbing potentials in our country”

I leave him to it and sit down to watch

Dagher dangling above, also determined

to finish his own project. A tall blond

guy comes to stand next to me. I have

to strain my neck to look up at him. He

introduces himself as Jad Khoury. “Yalla

Tony, hurry up and finish,” he jokes while

taking out his gear. Khoury and Dagher

are obviously very close mates. Khoury

explains how as a bunch of friends

they began to bolt the bare rocks a few

years ago. Last year in November, he

organized the first Lebanese Climbing

Festival together with Dagher and fellow

climbers Emille and Steeve Romanos. It

was a huge success and local climbers

were joined by many other nationalities,

from British, American and Belgian to

Italian, Bulgarian and French.

“Its great here, I love it,” says Mathias

Gen, a French climber who shows off his

incredible skills later, on a cliffhanger.

“It’s so good to see so many climbers

gathered together sharing the same

passion.”

“By organizing the festival I wanted

to raise awareness for the incredible

climbing potentials in our country,” adds

Khoury. “Aamchit is just one of the sites.

There is great climbing also in Afqa ,

Tannourine, and many other beautiful

spots in the North of Lebanon.” He goes

on to explain that the Dreadrock, has 20

routes that range from 13 to 30 meters,

with each named by the local climbers:

It’s Finger lickin’, Phoenician Phoenix,

Immaculate Elephant and Dead Snake

are a few of the little gems. “Dead Snake,

do you remember?” says Romanos,

another dedicated climber, who comes to

join us. “What happened?” I ask. “What do

you think?” he replies. “We found a snake

in one of the crags.”

“Do you want me to belay you?” asks

Khoury, with a broad smile, holding up

a long blue rope in front of me. I gladly

take him up on his offer and adjust my

harness. Climbing up the route, dubbed

Sojo, was actually not as easy as it looked.

But, a few climbers gathered down below

and encouraged me. “Yalla, you can do

it,” shouted Romanos and I made it to

the top. “Coming down,” I yelled. “Go for

it,” shouted Romanos, as I let go of the

rock. Looking out to the Mediterranean

the sun was just about to set, turning

the sky into a stunning rosy hue. As the

day turned to dusk the climbers began

to pack up and prepare for the hike

back, already discussing the climb of

tomorrow.

 

CLIMBING ESSENTIALS

 

• Chalk Bag & Chalk

• Harness

• Belay Device & Locking Carabiner

• Backpack

• Quickdraws (10-12)

• Rope (10.5mm X 60 M)

• Rope Bag

• 60 cm Nylon or Spectra Slings (1-2)

• 120 cm Nylon or Spectra Slings (1-2)

• Oval or Locking Carabiners (2-3)

• Helmet

 

 

BEST CLIMBING SPOTS

 

• Afqa 

• Faqra 

• Naher Beirut 

• Laqlouq 

• Tannourine el Tahta

• Harisa-Tannourine 

• Aamchit

 

 

CLIMBING GROUPS

 

Climbing Circle

03 126675

Facebook: climbingcircleleb

Climbing Lebanon

03 112338, 03 211822

climbinglebanon.com

La Reserve – Afqa

01 498775/6, 03 727484

lareserve.com.lb

Lebanese Climbing School

03 776705

Facebook: LebanesClimbingSchool

Rock Climbing Lebanon

jad.khoury@gmail.com

Facebook: rockclimbinglebanon

Sports4life

03 574874

sports4life-lb.com

The Lebanese Climbing Association

lebaneseclimbingassociation.org

Facebook: Lebanese Climbing Association

U Rock Climbing

03 807854

urock-climbing.com

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