Climbing Mt. Sinai.
Mount Sinai or ‘Moses Mountain’
Mount Sinai and St Catherine’s Monastery are 2-3 hours drive from Sharm el Sheik, although we had driven in 6-7 hours from Cairo. The last few hours navigating the arid, starkly beautiful mountains of the Sinai Peninsula, stopping at the occasional oasis en route.
The climb up Mt Sinai is done at night so as to arrive just before dawn at the top. So we had checked in mid afternoon to the Tourist Lodge and taken it easy for a few hours ahead of our climb. My wife was somewhat concerned about the climb and said to our allocated Guide that perhaps she should wait at the bottom? This young man, a Bedouin, called (of course) Mossa, (or Moses!) however, insisted that he would ensure that she would make and would help.
Getting Up Before I Went to Bed!
It so happened that the date was 21 June, thus making it not only the longest day of the year but also the shortest night and earliest dawn! This meant that we had to leave not long after midnight and so it was a very early rise indeed, certainly the earliest I have ever got up!
During the climb we got to know Mossa. For decades the Sinai Bedouin had been the poor relations of Egypt. Undeterred Mossa’s goal was to get to University in Cairo and must have seen as big a climb as Mt Sinai. Clearly the younger generation were grasping opportunity and determined to get on with life.
Climbing in the dark was easier than I thought simply because the night sky is so bright and illuminated the fairly wide and safe trail. The biggest danger for me was when gazing into the night sky and looking at the several shooting stars that were visible that you simply trip over. This I did but the only damage was to my head light!
The climb can be interrupted at one of the several tents to take tea or you can make the climb really easy by renting a camel! The last 100 yards or so are bit more of a rocky scramble but we all, even my very proud wife, made it in time to watch the sunrise over the mountains of Sinai. A wonderful sight for sure.
We stayed on the summit for an hour or so, others had arrived and some held Prayer Services as the sun made its way above the horizon. The walk down was pleasant and I was ready for breakfast and then a visit to the Monastery, another fascinating part of Egyptian history.
Anyone of reasonable fitness can make it – just ask for extra time. In mid summer the temperature at night was just right and a change from the daytime highs, but in winter remember to prepare for a chilly night.