Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Syria - The Military and The Climbers

"You have to dominate them. Let the soldiers know that you are the boss, that you will not be intimidated by them"

Monte Rosa is a beautiful crag situated in a lovely green valley about 35km outside of Damascus and about 900m from the Lebanese border. You'd not call it a warzone, quite, yet you wouldn't call it peaceful and undisputed either. Both sides of the border are heavily patrolled by armed military men. The valleys are decorated with rows and rows of bunkers, and the occassional stray tank on the lookout for invading troops and people who shouldn't really be there...... and this is where we wanted to go climbing!

Jurg, a very helpful Swiss climber living in Damascus, had come to our campsite to share a few beers, sell a few guidebooks and instruct us on the necessary 'code of conduct' for climbing at these crags. No loud noise. No bright colours. No drinking. Definately no cameras at all. Go climbing, keep quiet, draw no attention to ourselves, and should the military find us, stand up to them and their guns... ignore the rifle pointed at our heads and tell them we have every right to be there.

Hmmmm?! Syria was an interesting place!

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