28-Dec-2006 -- Visited during the December 2006 `Īd holidays by Ski Sharp and Sandrine Descat via Wādiy Suwayḥ, and John Edwards with his niece Katrina Edwards via a drier, more circuitous route. Also present on the reconnoiter trips: Paula Edwards, Benjamin Edwards, Tom McDonald, and John Van Wunnick.
A group of expatriates living in Masqaṭ took up the challenge of reaching confluence point 23N 59E in September 2006. From Google Earth and topographical maps it appeared the most likely route up the bank of Wādiy Suwayḥ to the triangular plateau containing 23N 59E was one of the side wādiys above the waterfall several hours walk upstream from Suwayḥ. All agreed this wādiy looked easier to climb out of than the other Wādiy Šija that had defeated Rainer Mautz in April. However, Wādiy Suwayḥ has a permanently flooded gorge that can only be passed by swimming. This is fun in a day trip, more problematic when traveling with packs, so the Masqaṭ crowd split into two teams; one happy to wrap their gear in bin bags, the other looking for a more comfortable route.
A chance encounter with a hundred-year-old Omani living in the nearby fishing village of Qurayāt provided some clues. This trader used to sell fish to the mountain villages, returning with gazelle meat he had hunted whilst traveling the donkey tracks. He said there was a donkey track from Qa'lat, a village near Suwayḥ now occupied by settled Bedouins, and the date plantation village of Sawqa way upstream from Suwayḥ. From this donkey track a side track leads across Wādiy Suwayḥ. It took John Edwards and friends two trips to find a way to this crossing, the same as originally guessed from the satellite picture.
The first trip almost led to dehydration, though we did manage to reach most of the way to Sawqa, missing the sidetrack but finding another way to the crossing point. However, there was not enough time, or water, to attempt what looked like a cliff descent to the bottom of Wādiy Suwayḥ.(p>
The second attempt followed a tortuous route down a side wādiy crossed by the donkey track. This was a technical success, but not very practical as it involved squeezing under boulders – made especially challenging by a rainstorm.
The third attempt was perfect; this time the Bedouins, who were camping at the crossing point in September when they ignored our cries for directions, were on the plateau itself and were much more hospitable. The final trek took 2 ½ days including the return that circumnavigated the plateau, finding a second Wādi Suwayḥ crossing down an impossible looking cliff with the help of one of the Bedouins.
Meanwhile Ski and Sandrine, amused at their friends' aversion to what was now cold water, continued their exploration straight up Wādiy Suwayḥ. On their second attempt they found a way past the waterfall to the crossing point. From this base camp they made an afternoon dash straight across numerous wādiys on the not-so-flat plateau, returning after dark to their camp.