Saturday, I joined Alon and two other guys from the gym for a climbing trip up north. It ended in a fair bit of bloodshed. I made a brief video (no blood), and have a more detailed writeup with photos below.
We left the city around 11am for the two hour drive north to Gita. Alon is a very experienced climbing, and Assaf works with him at the gym and just got back from climbing for a month in Greece. This was only my second time outside, and it was Tomer’s first, so we had a wide range of abilities.
Apparently there are two climbing areas in Gita – Gita East, and Gita West. Gita East is the preferred spot, but has recently been closed as it is an nature reserve, and the fines for climbing there are quite steep.
Gita West is harder to get to, and required a long trek through thorns. I forgot that everything in Israel has thorns, and stupidly wore shorts and a t-shirt. It was really fucking painful – especially since no one knew of a trail to get there, so we bushwhacked our way through giant brambles for the last 20 minutes of it.
I found someone’s spine along the way.
When we finally came upon the climbing area, I was super pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t as unique as Nezer Cave, but it seemed much more climbable (i.e. not super overhanging) and looked to have a lot of unique features.
There were a few guys there already when we arrived, but we quickly found a spot to warmup and got to setting up the gear.
While Assaf and I climbed a 6a (5.10a), with Assaf setting the gear and me doing a simple sport climb after, Alon and Tomer went up a 6B in the cave area.
Outside of some significant fear being on a high exposed face in extreme wind for only the 2nd day ever, I finished our climb without taking and with only a minor cut on my hand.
Assaf and I then moved over to the cave where he climbed the 6b that Alon set gear for, and then gave me excellent beta to get up it. I took twice because of nerves, but eventually finished it out and actually had a really fun time doing – my first time enjoying being on the wall outside (instead of simply being petrified of falling). And I only cut up my knee and hand both hands.
Assaf even walked me through how to clean the climb (how to take off the gear/protection that kept me safe while climbing up), which made me feel very accomplished. Until Tomer and Alon came back and we realized that Tomer never got to do the climb. Sorry dude! Fortunately the rope was still set up as a top rope, so he gave it a few go’s while I belayed.
Alon on-sighted a 7b.
And then Assaf gave it a go.
Alon had placed the gear, so the plan was for Assaf to clean it after finishing the route. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make it to the top. Which meant that at around 4:30 in the evening we were left with waning light (we forgot how early it would get dark with daylight savings time), and needing to get Alon back on the wall – and he was tired from having already done the climb, at that.
Alon was a trooper though, and got back up. Unfortunately, he took a pretty big fall from the roof (where Assaf is falling in the photo two pictures up), and cut his finger pretty badly and got significant rope burn on his arm. With no one else able to do the climb though, and sunlight fading so much that I had to assist his climb by shining a headlamp on the wall, there was no choice but to give it another go.
Alon did make it to the top, and by the time he was coming down to clean the gear it was dark, with my headlamp the only way to see the protection to remove it.
By the time he was down he was exhausted and in a good deal of pain.
Unfortunately, he had cut right through the pad of his finger – arguably the most essential part of your body for climbing – and it happened only a few weeks before a planned climbing trip to Spain.
We washed and dressed it the best we could, and packed up in the dark.
If we didn’t know how to get to the wall in the light, we certainly didn’t know how to get back in the dark. Which meant even more charging through thorn bushes. And since only two of us had lights, it was very slow going. At one point we had to scramble/jump down a scree field, and Alon smashed his knee and I twisted my ankle. Fortunately, at the bottom of that section we found the dirt road. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the trail from that dirt road back to the car, so that meant even more thorn adventures through farm fields and over rock walls and around barbed wire fences.
We got back to the car around 6:15 – approximately 40 minutes after we had left the wall – totally scratched, bruised, and exhausted. Starving, we stopped in a nearby Druze village for huge falafels and baklava which helped a lot.
Traffic getting back into the city was a nightmare on a Saturday night (after Shabbat), and because there was a giant memorial service in Tel Aviv for Yitzhak Rabin, so we didn’t get home until after 10pm.
It was a crazy day, but super satisfying. I finally found outdoor climbing fun, I made new friends and saw a beautiful place, and I learned some really useful skills for future sport climbing trips. And I had good falafel and am covered in thorn scratches. (Okay, so the last part isn’t so great.)
A+ would do again.