In mid-February 2016 I left my van behind for a very different adventure then what I’ve been doing for the last 1.5 years.  I traveled to Jordan to assist with a training to help local climbers to expand their skills.  This was part of an Operation Mercy project with an end goal of these young men guiding climbing tourists up classic routes. 

I had a lot of concerns up front.  I have traveled internationally, but never in the Middle East.  Would it be safe?  Would I be able to function without speaking Arabic?  Would I be able to get around as woman?  From a climbing perspective I had similar concerns.  Are my skills strong enough?  Even if I was skilled enough, will I be able to effectively train young men from a different culture?  Will they respect me?

After doing some research and talking to multiple people I decided that this was an adventure that I needed to embark upon.  How often do we really know what we are getting into?  For me this is what faith is, trusting that God will use me in this adventure to help me grow in my Love of him and my understanding of the local culture in rural Jordan. 

On Feb 11, 2016 I flew out.  On the airplane I sat by an older woman from Jordan who spoke no English.  We communicated a little difficultly with gestures.  During the 10+ hour flight I was wondering whether this was foreboding what my next two weeks would be. 

In the morning we met the climbers and were able to gift the local climbers brand new climbing shoes.  This was their first pair of climbing shoes.  Up until this point they had always climbed barefoot.  Then we headed out to the desert to get on some rock.  Frankly, I was concerned about safety on that first day because our communication wasn’t as effective as I would have liked.  Each day after this huge improvements were made.  I think that these improvements were much more than just language.  I think a larger driver was the friendships that were developing, the trust that was being established, and the vulnerability of the Jordanians to be willing to speak our language.  Every time I travel, I feel guilty that I am fully dependent on other people to speak my language.  Whatever the reason, communication improved and we were able to focus more on the climbing and the relationships. 

On day five I we took the Jordanians on multi-pitch climbs.  I was in a team of three with a local, and a westerner who has spent many years in the Middle East.  We had a great climb.  It was excellent rock to a beautiful overlook of the city.  The defining point in the route for me came when the local started leading up a pitch with an exposed, overhang and decided to back down.  I told my partner that I enjoyed that style and he made the comment that it would be good for the local to see me, a woman, lead it.   I tied in and when I reached that point took a deep breath and continued over the exposed roof.  I don’t think that Matt knew it, but this redefined the trip for me.  My goal became; to be an image of a strong, capable, and respectful woman to these young men. 

We continued to get a variety of good climbs in over the next few days.  My favorite climb was called Merlin’s Wand.  It was a 5 pitch fully vertical climb on amazing rock.  There was a crack with huge holds on either side, and all of the holds were super solid.  It deserves its status as a classic climb. 

The next day was rainy, followed by a day to allow the rock to dry out.  This particular sandstone becomes very weak when it is wet.  On the drying day we were tourist in Petra.  I highly recommend visiting if you have the chance.  The ruins sunken into the mountains are amazing.  There were stairs carved into the cliffs, and the colors in the rock were extra vibrant from the rain.  There were swirls of reds, purples, and yellows.  I even rode a camel to get somewhere.  We walked in, then took a camel ride on our way back out.  I’ll just say, it’s was little scary when I rocked way forward and way backward as the camel stood up and sat down. 

After the rains tourist season picked up and the local climbers became less available.  I fully understand that they can’t very well turn down work to climb rocks.  It made us particularly grateful for the good weather and climbing that we had at the start of the trip. 

As the trip concluded we were able to leave them a full double rack of gear so that they can continue to climb.  My hope is that there will be another trip to expand the Jordanians skills more, and that they will be able to use the equipment safely in the meantime.  Overall, I think that the trip was a resounding success. 

There are many more stories of people and adventures that could be shared, but this is basic overview of the trip.  If you would like more specific information about this trip, please contact me directly.  



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1 Response to Jordan

  1. James Johnson says:

    Wow! So good to hear from you, so thankful. Great photos for sure. Really glad you are ok. Pray your sharing gave them a whole new perspective for American women, actually think just doing the climb did just that. Bless you, can’t wait for the next part of your story. Oh the places you will go just keeps getting better. May God bless all you do.


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