Alaa Metwally climbed Kilimanjaro and she’s ready for more.
At 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 15 last year, Alaa Metwally stood at the top of the Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro, waving a flag and holding a Frozen doll that belonged to her daughter and a drawing from her son. Metwally has a smile on her face as she remembers how she felt in that moment, “I felt stronger than ever before, I felt that everything was possible.”
For any climber the journey begins with the decision to make it. Metwally went through a period of depression in her life that she knew she had to fight. She took up diving with her husband Hattan Asali, founder of Qimmam Adventure Club, but it didn’t work out for her. Eventually his enthusiasm for climbing adventures rubbed off on her and she decided she’d climb Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa, at a rise of approximately 4,900 meters.
To prepare herself for Kilimanjaro, Metwally booked training sessions with the Qimmam team. She began by waking up really early every Friday to do small hikes at a place call Um Hablein in the outskirts of Jeddah. She consulted Qimmam’s 50-page manual for mountaineering, ran five times a day and did workouts at home. But that wasn’t enough, she explains, “All of that strengthened me physically, but even if you train for two years it’s nothing if you’re not mentally prepared. Emotional training is the most important aspect, everything is mental.”
Getting to the top of Kilimanjaro was a seven-day experience for Metwally and the climbers with her. On a couple of tougher days their hike was 12 hours long. Setting up camp after a long day was an experience in itself, she explains, “We would set-up camp every day. We ate simple dinners, slept in tents in the freezing weather. There were no toilets!” When you have to hike and camp, it’s important to have a strong group in terms of trust and understanding.
Summit day was quite difficult and it made Metwally question why she was doing it. “We started at midnight and I couldn’t see anything except flashlights in the distance. I was extremely sleepy and that’s dangerous because if you fall asleep there’s a chance you may not wake up.” But thinking about her family and children inspired her and she soldiered on.
When Metwally reached the top of Kilimanjaro’s Uhuru Peak, she caught her breath and opened her pack to unveil a personalized flag that featured her “Seven Pillars”.
Speaking about the symbolic flag, she says, “There are seven summits in the world and I have seven pillars in my life. They are my parents, my husband, my son, daughter and brother and sister. I want to reach the top of all seven summits so I can dedicate each climb to the people who make my life beautiful and who give me strength.”
So how did climbing change Metwally? She answers, “No one can understand what climbing does to a person until they actually experience it. I highly encourage everyone to do it. It helps you let go of everything and live in nature. When you return you appreciate every single drop of water.”
To this day, there’s one thing that she always remembers. Surrounded by breathtaking beauty and the might of the mountain, Alaa Metwally had an emotional moment. “There’s something in the mountains that made me feel so peaceful. The energy in the mountains has an effect that’s very mysterious.”
Climb Training in the Eastern Province
These local mountains are perfect spots to train for your climb.
- Jabal Al Qamar
Famously known as “Mountain Moon,” this rounded granite mountain is a great one for beginners because it already has rappel chains in place and routes marked. Mobile signal available.
Coordinates: 22’‘12.056 N, 39”28.947 E
- Al Wadi Al Marwani
It’s quite similar to Jabal Al Qama but it’s lower in height. This rounded granite canyon has a track that follows a stream through the wadi. A great spot for long biking trails and trekking, mobile signal is available.
Coordinates: 22’‘13.839 N, 39”39.585 E
- Wadi Abo Oud
A little harder to climb but it’s a great spot because this mountain is quite historical. Engraved on it are ancient drawings and old Arabic writing. Mobile signal is not available.
Coordinates: 26’‘41.007 N, 37”54.479 E
- Caillou Qui Bique
Famously known as “Pebble Goat”, this granite mountain has several routes of varying difficulty.
Location: Near Al Shafa
- Wadi Al Montadel
This sandstone mountain is also known “Trophy and Elephant Arches.” It’s a great place for climbing adventures, especially because of its arches and counterweight rappel coming down at the center. Mobile signal is available.
Coordinates: 26’41.493 N, 037’59.011 E
- Towers of Ma’alag Al Hamadi
This is in the same area as Madain Saleh. It has several small slot canyons and natural arches.
Location: Al Ula
- German Spike
First ascended by Uwe Hoffman and Sebastian Wolf in 2011, this medium sized rock looks a little difficult to climb but can be achieved if you preserve.
Coordinates: 26’41’55.86 N, 039’20’48. E
Best Workouts for Climbing
If you can only work out at home or a gym, make sure you add these workouts to your plan.
Increases forearm and grip strength.
- Spiderman Push up
Trains oblique and forearms.
- One-arm Inverted Row
Increases back and biceps strength.
- Single Leg Burpee
Gets ride of excess body fat.
- Bent Over Row
Increases grip strength.
- Reverse Cable Fly
Strengthens the shoulders.
- Forearm Kettlebell Curl
Increases forearm strength.
- Single Leg Lever
Exercise for the abs.
- Swiss Ball Push-up
Helps strengthen abs, chest, triceps, delta and shoulders.
- Single Leg Plank
Works abs, hips and glutes.