25-Dec-2019 -- This is the 18th out of 21 successful revisits plus 2 unsuccessful attempts on unvisited confluences in Saudi Arabia. The story starts at 28°N 48°E and continues from 19°N 42°E.
With already two incomplete attempts on this confluence point, I should have been warned. I simply couldn’t believe that one needs 4 hours to overcome 700 m in distance. Maybe I was able to be quicker? I was very curious, but not willing to spend the whole day on a visit.
We started in the morning from the provincial capital Abha. After a drive of one hour, we reached the mountain village “Arab” in a straight-line distance of 1.9 km to the confluence point. We parked the car at 9:30 AM and agreed that I should be back at 2 PM at the latest. Meanwhile Elionora would visit some ancient villages nearby by car.
The first two-thirds of the hike where fairly easy on a more or less even terrain with boulders in various sizes. At 10 AM, I found myself at a distance of 695 m and had suddenly a breath-taking view into the valley ahead. However, when I saw the steep rock-faces ahead, I considered them as too dangerous for descending. I was alone and would not risk anything. I have done many climbs already and know my own borders very well (after paying dearly).
But I didn’t give up at this point. The confluence is neither on top nor in the valley, but in a valley flank about 300 m below the edge. I noticed a side-valley that had a less steep gradient. So I decided to give it a try. To enter the side-valley, I had to go almost all the way back to the village Arab and start climbing down from there. After I had entered the valley, the going at the valley bottom was easy and pleasant. But soon the first obstacles appeared: big boulders and big rock-steps. I managed to safely descend further. The obstacles were not dangerous to overcome but took their time. I was feeling like being in a labyrinth to find an exit. Out of many impossible ways there was always one save solution. On my way back I would have to find all theses save solutions again, which worried me a bit.
Sometimes I had to leave the valley bottom, because some rock-steps were too high. Then I had to traverse the valley again from one side to the other. And sometimes I had to fight with thorns from trees.
At noon I had reached the elevation of the confluence point but was still 773 m away. The valley had opened a bit and allowed ascending further. But now I began running out of time. The hope to reach the confluence in time began to fade away. But first of all, I was worried about my long and complicated return. So I decided to return.
The return was much quicker, but at one point I didn’t find a good and save solution for an obstacle and got in a dangerous situation, i.e. more dangerous than my own threshold. But I had to go back – this is the difference between the way to the confluence and the way back to the car (or bike or home). The later you must reach.
But in general, the return was pleasant. I even took a cooling bath in a water puddle. At 1:30 PM I was back to Arab and shortly after Elionora appeared with our rental car. We continued driving towards the capital city Riyadh and spent the night in the town Tathleeth.
CP Visit Details:
- Distance to a road: 1900 m
- Distance to a track: 1900 m
- Distance of car parking: 1900 m
- Time to reach the points of return: 30 minutes and 2.5 hours
- Time at the point of return: 11:50 AM
- Measured height: 2351 m and 1950 m
- Minimal distance according to GPS: 695 m
- Position accuracy: 3 m
- Topography: mountainous, on a steep valley flank
- Vegetation: small bushes, thorny trees and grass
- Weather: sunny, 20° C (felt temperature)
- Given Name: The Tricky Valley Flank Confluence
The story continues at 20°N 44°E.
More pictures of the trip can be found here.