Musandam Untouched
OutdoorUAE|May - August 2018

I’m curled up with my knees bent towards my chest, my head only able to move a few centimetres above me otherwise I will hit the sharp rock above. I can hear the wind whistle and whirl around me, as I lay in this animal lair.

Giles Richardson

Thankfully my thermarest mat provides some mild padding from the rock floor and shields me from the dried-up goat droppings under me. I can barely move, and even my feet protrude from the entrance, exposed to the elements of the wind and driving rain.

Fortunately, I had the hindsight to empty my dry sack and use this as a protective cover bag over my feet and legs. I’ve bivouacked in some obscure places in the past, but not on top of a mountain, squeezed in a small rock cave half the size of my body! I had previously been searching the summit area, moving quickly around, beaming my Petzl head-torch around in the twilight to find some adequate shelter for what I sensed would be a wild night. My location - Pano Peak (real name – Khawr Habalayn Peak), some 714m above the majestic Musandam fjords.

Six hours later, I wake up dreary eyed at dawn and there is dead calm. I wiggle and twist my body out of the lair, into the twilight and stretch my body. This is where my story begins.

Let’s rewind 36 hours…… my orange sea touring kayak is loaded on the roof of my blue Toyota 4WD, car packed with a carefully planned equipment list. My expedition list has been weeks of meticulous planning – yes, I need to take this, yes if only I had space, ok – strike it off the list. Gear mitigation experience has been gathered from similar kayak expeditions. Equipment planning needs to be precise on these types of trips due to limited kayak storage space. This was especially challenging on this adventure due to the amount of camera and videography equipment I planned to take, along with the necessity to include some hiking and camping equipment. The end goal was to film and direct a short movie– which can be viewed at www.vimeo.com/236133422.

Most of equipment also needs to be packed in dry bags and in the specific order, so gear can be accessed quickly. I had no room for a tent or sleeping bag, so would need to rely on a sleeping bag wool liner (which provides a mere +2DegC of extra body warmth) in the hope that I would find some adequate shelter! However, I was expecting more protection from the elements than what turned out.

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