Majid al Mrshoudi is an experienced mountain climber, professional tourguide and one of the kindest people I know 🙂 We met on a tour through Snake Canyon in 2019 and I have discovered a new Oman through him. This is one of the exciting stories he shared with me and I would love for you to read it too.
Part 1: An invitation for adventure
The story starts when my friend Yousef called me one day and invited me for an adventurous trip. He said: “Majid, we are planning a trip to one of the most difficult canyons in Jabel Akhdar. It will include 21 times of abseiling and it will take us about two days to make it through. Do you want to join?”
I was so excited that I said yes immediately, even though I started mountain climbing only 6 months ago and I had little experience, my highest abseiling was 45m only.
We decided to meet on Thursday evening in Jebel Ahkhdar and our group consisted out of 5 people: Yousef, Ahmed, Khaled, Faisel and me. This is the first time I met Ahmed, one of the strongest Omani climbers. I inquired about the food because we would walk two days through the canyon and we needed the preparations.
They said it was not necessary to take that much because our friends invited us for a big meal at the end of the canyon. Yousef and I bought a few snacks and decided to share it because we were excitingly waiting for our big meal.
We planned to camp close to Wadi Bani Habib village but Ahmed suggested we spent the night in the mosque of this little village. I didn’t sleep that much, about 3 or 4 hours due to the praying men that came in at early morning. We woke up at 03:40AM, checked our climbing equipment and started our hike that would turn into my greatest adventure.
Part 2: The start of our canyon trip
We started hiking in the darkness, before the sunrise, and we continued on for 1 hour until our first abseiling.
The weather was incredibly cold and the first abseiling required climbing around a pool with black clear water, it was not running water that is why the water turned black. We avoided swimming because of the cold.
We did a lot of abseiling and climbing and we never stopped for rest because we were cautious about the time. The canyon is narrow and we needed to camp in an open area. We reached a beautiful waterfall with 120m of abseiling and we were enjoying a lot.
After this abseiling we reached a place that had a big caved out hole. My friend prepared the rope and threw it down. He said: “I want to pray, do you want to be the first one to make it down?”. I said: “It’s ok, I can do it because it’s not my first time.” And this is where the action starts.
Part 3: My life is in danger
I was the first one that went down, around 3:30pm and my friend explained to me where I needed to stop to avoid going down into the big hole. There is a ridge where we needed to walk to one side. After 20m of abseiling I saw the ridge where I needed to stop but there were a lot of knots in the rope and they needed to be removed to continue my abseiling.
I was hanging in the air and removing the knots with one hand and with the other I was holding the break. It was too difficult to remove it with one hand so I used two hands and this was my big mistake.
knot disappeared and I was falling down, really fast, I was so surprised and I
didn’t know what to do. I was trying to catch the rope with two hands to stop
my fall, my hands were burning due the speed of my fall and thanks God, I made
it stop in the last second, saving myself from falling to death. The place
where I needed to stop was at 100m, I was hanging 45m under it for 30 minutes.
It was another 10m until I would reach the bottom of the hole. There was no
more rope to make it down for another 10 meters with abseiling. I had to try
I saw there was a little rocky platform on which I could jump and then I could climb down to the bottom. If my jump wouldn’t be good, I would fall down 10m.
It was really difficult and my hands were full of heat and blood but my challenge was to move through the pain. I even tried to catch the rope by my legs, in a difficult situation you try to find any solution. I decided to jump and I succeeded, thank God.
Part 4: Keeping my sanity
I climbed down and reached the bottom around 04:30pm. I was happy and relieved and said: “Yes!! I made it! I am fine.” but I had no idea what would happen next. I had no water and no food. My friends told me they will go down to the correct place and throw the rope somewhere that would reach me.
I started looking around and thinking:
Where am I? What am I doing here?
Many thoughts started to form in my mind but I never allowed the thought that I would die and not make it out of here. My mother always said: “When life becomes difficult, don’t look at the difficulties but look at it as if it’s easy and start finding the solution.” I kept my mind positive and determined I would get out of this place.
My friends were doing their second abseiling and little rocks fell down on me, it was like a gunshot and such a dangerous situation. I yelled to stop but my voice didn’t reach them. I sat in the corner of the hole and a rock fell 10cm away from me, I kept still and didn’t move at all. Thank God all my friends got down and no rock fell down on me. They threw the rope and it reached until the bottom but the big question was: how do you climb 60m with pain in your hands and without any climbing equipment? It was 06:00PM and the darkness came. I saw two snakes approaching me and I had no idea if they were poisonous or not.
Part 5: Overcoming hallucination and dehydration
The snakes were as surprised to see me here as I was surprised about seeing them. They avoided me and went inside of a hole in the rock. I closed this hole by placing a stone in front of it so they would not form a threat to me.
I took a deep breath and I decided to climb up. My first try was around 8:00pm and I climbed up but the pain in my hand continued and when I tried to use the rock to get up, I fell down 6 meters and hit rock bottom. My body was hurting everywhere, I felt a lot of pain. My mental powers were also decreasing, I was hungry and thirsty and I had no power within myself. I asked my friends to throw down some food and they threw a plastic bag with 4 oranges.
Imagine what they looked like after a fall of 60m. I ate only one orange with sand, the rest I saved for the next day. I was not thinking clearly when I decided to climb again because this turned out to be a big mistake. I was dehydrated and as I climbed 5 meters, I saw my friend that gave me his hand, saying happily; ‘you made it Majid’, I took his hand but there was no hand because it was a hallucination! I fell down again for 5 meters, the pain was moving throughout my entire body.
Part 6: Facing the night
The weather became colder and colder as the night fell. The pain was everywhere in my body but luckily I didn’t have any fractures or serious injuries that would prevent me from climbing again. My friends threw my sleeping bag but it got stuck on a rock 10m above me. I started to see the law of Murphy unfolding: whatever could go wrong is going wrong. At 10:00pm I was shivering because of the cold and the acoustics in the hole made the sound of chirping frogs incredibly loud. I also heard the movement of snakes that made me scared.
My friend Ahmed came down closer to me, after my second fall, to keep an eye on me. He found a small platform where he was sleeping in a standing position, secured by climbing equipment. It was 20m away from me. I couldn’t sleep at all because of lack of oxygen and the cold so I decided to climb to the sleeping bag. This went well even though I had no focus. I crawled into the warm sleeping bag and experienced a deep and rejuvenating sleep from 02:00am until 07:00am. I woke up with filled with energy.
Part 7: Get yourself up and try
After a long night the morning finally came. I checked my oranges and they were full of sand and insects but I had to eat them. I cleaned them as much as I could and ate them all. My friends also threw down some chocolate and my body was filled with energy and I started to become excited again for another try but this time with high hopes and good energy.
Ahmed threw some climbing equipment but I didn’t know how to use it. I tried something but it was too difficult to comprehend. Ahmed made a lot of knots in the rope to make my climbing easier. I started my climb with big hopes and when I reached 15 meter my hands started to bleed again. I couldn’t stop my climb so I took little breaks of rest and continued my climb with bleeding hands. Finally I reached to the rocky platform where Ahmed was waiting for me. He was smiling a lot. Together we climbed another 40 meters to our friends. When I reached them, they all hugged me and we were so happy and relieved I made it back safely and most importantly: ALIVE.
Part 8: The lesson I learned
If you ever find yourself in a difficult situation, don’t allow yourself to think negatively. Don’t think about death and fear. Always be ready for the unknown, gather enough knowledge, skill and strong mindset. The dangerous moment will never knock on your door, it will be there suddenly and unexpected.
This adventure changed my mind about a lot of things. I believe we cannot run away from our death but we can learn to avoid it. I got an international ICO pro certificate for safety and rescue in the canyon and I opened my own adventure company to keep everyone safe.
You can follow Majid’s adventures through his instagram page: al_mrshoudi and through his company: Escapade.Oman.
Thank you for reading and hope to see you soon again!