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Author Topic: Extreme Wahiba Challenge  (Read 264 times)

Offline skb

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Extreme Wahiba Challenge
« on: January 31, 2018, 04:05:08 AM »
The Extreme Wahiba Challenge 2018 – Oman

Was the 5th edition of the desert crossing organized by The Ras Al Hamra Off Road Adventure Club (RAHORAC). RAHORAC organizes the Wahiba Challenge in November & The Extreme Wahiba Challenge in January. The former is a single day short desert crossing while the latter is a 2 day crossing with 2 nights of camping put in. I got the chance to participate in this event all thanks to my cousin brother who works for Shell USA as a Geologist and is currently deputed there. Most of the outdoors adventure in Oman is undertaken by the expat community.

The event is undertaken and limited to 10 teams of 4 Jeeps/vehicles each, with 2 participants in each vehicle. Only SWB (Short Wheel Based) jeeps are permitted though with exceptional drivers MWBs are allowed. LWBs are not allowed to participate due to the terrain. Almost all of the vehicles used this time, were Jeep Wranglers, though I did see 1 Nissan and 1 Toyota.  The Extreme is a course set over some 50+ kilometers which has 9 points that need to be crossed. Each member has a GPS App which shows the points and it is mandatory for at least 3 out of the 4 jeeps in a team to touch the points in the course.

The entire 50 km route is laced with sand dunes with the GPS points placed in the toughest spots high up in the dunes. A dirt track runs about 12 kms parallel to the wahiba route and functions as an escape route whenever any team wants to exit. The terrain and texture of the sand is very tricky, unlike some of the higher dunes known as Star Dunes that are seen in Dubai and other deserts. While some patches are hard enough for traction other spots are very very soft and difficult to drive on.

Our team had 4 Jeeps, and another team which was 1 Jeep short requested us to allow them to join in with us. Making the crossing with 3 Jeeps is considered very risky because it is quite normal for all 3 to get stuck at some point or the other. Being burdened with 7 Jeeps in the team meant that there was a very slim chance that we would be able to complete the full course. The only means of communication is by walkie talkie radios, and that too each team has their own frequency and there is no way to communicate with the other teams.

We were the first to reach the designated base camp area just after dark. Soon the other vehicles followed and set camp a little distance away from each other. The next day, after an all team meeting at 8.00 am where the route was explained and basic instructions given, we started on the Wahiba route. The entire day was spent climbing dunes, smaller sand banks or trudging along swathes of camel grass. There were countless times that someone or the other was stuck in sand and had to be tugged out or winched out, if the spot was too risky for another jeep to enter. One time, our team leader Yuri dropped on to a sand bank with such force that his front left tire just popped and came off the rim. That took a lot of time taking care of.

Wahiba rules stipulate that the teams set camp for the night at 5.30 pm. It is too risky for anyone to drive once it is dark. By the time that we camped, we had covered a linear distance of around 28 km, though the distance driven would have been at least twice that. Out of the 9 GPS points, we had covered 7, with me doing the navigation for the better part of the day. I didn’t do any driving myself because (a) I’ve never driven on sand before, and (b) It was not my Jeep, and this was definitely a Man & his machine kind of thing.

On the second morning we had a small discussion to plan the rest of the day. Since we were 7, and since we were having car trouble with Yuri’s Jeep, we decided to end our Wahiba Challenge and head towards the exit route. To reach the exit route 12 kms away, we had to cross 2 dune complexes and one stretch of camel grass. The more experienced members call this portion the bone breaker. They have good reason to say so, because these small tufts of wild grass that grow on smaller mounds in the sand shakes and moves the Jeeps from one side to the other very rapidly. The occupants inside, have no choice but to jump and sway from end to end mindful of not hitting their heads on the roof.

By 1.30 we were out of the Wahiba and found a good shaded spot to have our lunch and some beer and white wine (not the drivers). We were back in Muscat by 6.30 pm tired, very shaken and stirred. I seemed to be one of the eldest amongst the group and everyone wanted to know if I enjoyed and I was game for another Wahiba adventure. I told them, I’m just waiting for you to say “Be my guest. You see, my cousin is transferring to Brunei in June and I don’t think we’ll be going to Oman any more. But I’m very thankful to him for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity and experience. I have many videos and pictures, but I’m posting 3 pictures to give you an idea of the sands and the terrain. The last one is of the second night’s camp being set up.

Click the pictures and then use your arrow keys or the scroll bar at the bottom to see the full picture.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 04:16:02 AM by skb »
No meds since June 2011
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Offline walkerwally1

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Re: Extreme Wahiba Challenge
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2018, 07:07:40 AM »
Neat SKB.  It reminds me a lot of the dunes is Southern California we used to go to. 
Type 2 since 1993.  Control with Metformin and LCHF diet.  76 YY
A1c 4.7% September, 2018
Living in Mojave Desert, California, USA
"The 50-50-90 Rule.  Anytime you have a 50-50% chance of getting something right, there is a 90% chance you will get it wrong"

Offline bigskygal

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Re: Extreme Wahiba Challenge
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2018, 02:16:53 PM »
Wow! That looks like it was quite an adventure!
T-2 dx 2/2012 FBG 243 A1c 9.5%
6/2012 A1c 5.7%  In the 4% A1c club since July 2013. 12-2016 A1c 5.1%. 6-2018 A1c 5.3%.
No meds since 3/2015, diet controlled.  Minimal exercise.

Offline rocky

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Re: Extreme Wahiba Challenge
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2018, 10:08:57 PM »
Wow. That does sound like an adventure of a lifetime. I've been in the desert many times in Saudi, but never ventured into anything like this. I did spend a night with the Bedouin tribes now and then as a Guest of one of the families. 
My life is based on a true story.

Offline Tamagno

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Re: Extreme Wahiba Challenge
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2018, 02:05:21 AM »
Absolutely amazing!

Offline Rhiannon

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Re: Extreme Wahiba Challenge
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2018, 12:51:34 PM »
What an adventure!  Thanks for sharing.  You do a wonderful job of describing your experience :)