Jordanian becomes first Arab to scale 8th highest summit, Mt Manaslu

Al-Shelleh, who is also a brand ambassador for the Middle East’s first fully sustainable community, The Sustainable City, is preparing to scale the world’s highest summit, Mount Everest. (Screengrab)
Updated 29 October 2018
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Jordanian becomes first Arab to scale 8th highest summit, Mt Manaslu

  • Standing at 8,156 meters above sea level, Manaslu brought on plenty of challenges for the 28-year old climber
  • Al-Shelleh, who is also a brand ambassador for the Middle East’s first fully sustainable community, The Sustainable City, is preparing to scale the world’s highest summit, Mount Everest

DUBAI: Jordanian climber Dolores Al-Shelleh is the first-ever Arab to scale Nepal’s Mount Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world.

Standing at 8,156 meters above sea level, Manaslu brought on plenty of challenges for the 28-year old climber.

Al-Shelleh, who is also a brand ambassador for the Middle East’s first fully sustainable community, The Sustainable City, is preparing to scale the world’s highest summit, Mount Everest.

The climber sat down with Arab News to talk about her endeavors. 

  • How did this climb help in the preparation for Everest?

It was definitely an experience to learn from! This mountain is known for its notorious avalanches and a 15% chance of fatality amongst climbers. I faced many challenges during this climb particularly; crevasses, ice falls, snow storms and this was the reality of how Everest is going to be like. Staying for 40 days on the mountain, my team members became like family, we ate food we weren’t used to, living on the bare minimum, and keeping up with the constant rotations to acclimatize before the summit. Such long demanding climbs need a lot of mental strength - on the summit day it took 11 hours to reach the top with subzero temperatures challenging us and I also decided to go down on the same day of the summit straight to base camp, which means climbing down using repelling most of the time on steep glacier and ice fall areas, and doing so after such long days makes everything triple the difficulty and risky.

  • What was the main obstacle you faced on this climb?

I had quite a couple; in the beginning the muddy and rainy long days going through the steep parts of the forests and villages in Nepal, also the high altitude which means low oxygen levels which makes healing from injuries and the immune system weak, feeling exhausted from walking for hours every day and sometimes we had to walk starting 3am which means very few hours of sleep, and I got my ankle injured at the very start of the climb - this proved quite a difficult injury during the journey. There were also lot of steep routes and bridge crossing of crevasses in the ice fall area. The freezing cold evenings on higher camps made moving around difficult, even the heat with the snow got us all sun burnt no matter how much you try to avoid that, We also had an earth quake during one of the nights on base camp, it wasn’t a severe one but it had an impact. 

  • How did you prepare for this climb?

Physically I’m pretty vigorous at the gym - I do most of my workouts at low oxygen chambers to train my body to handle the altitudes. I also climbed mount Elbrus a month before I went to Mount Manalsu to keep my body acclimatized. Mentally I was ready for this new adventure and I knew I had to be determined to succeed and think positively as much as I could.

  • What does this rank in terms of difficulty climbing among all your climbs?

It’s the most difficult climb so far not only because of its height but also because of the advanced level of technical climbing needed to make the climb. The environmental changes during our climbs were frequent and so we had a number of rotations to help us acclimatize. 

  • What has the role as the brand ambassador of The Sustainable City played in this climb? And the next one?

I am being supported by a true believer of women capabilities, being the brand ambassador of TSC - I am raising awareness for three of the UN Sustainable Development goals: Gender Equality, Climate Action and Sustainable Cities and Communities. As I continue my journey I will always highlight the difficulties our Earth is facing due to the climate change affects. I think it is very important for people to understand the importance of our climate’s wellbeing and it’s effects on our lives.


Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

A woman poses for a photo among poppies in bloom on the hills of Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, California, on March 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

  • More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

LAKE ELSINORE, California: Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” the Southern California city of Lake Elsinore is being overwhelmed by the power of the poppies.
About 150,000 people over the weekend flocked to see this year’s rain-fed flaming orange patches of poppies lighting up the hillsides near the city of about 60,000 residents, about a 90-minute drive from either San Diego or Los Angeles.
Interstate 15 was a parking lot. People fainted in the heat; a dog romping through the fields was bitten by a rattlesnake.
A vibrant field of poppies lures Dorothy into a trap in the “Wizard of Oz” when the wicked witch, acknowledging that no one can resist their beauty, poisons the wildflowers and she slips into a fatal slumber until the good witch reverses the spell.
Lake Elsinore had tried to prepare for the crush of people drawn by the super bloom, a rare occurrence that usually happens about once a decade because it requires a wet winter and warm temperatures that stay above freezing.
It offered a free shuttle service to the top viewing spots, but it wasn’t enough.
Sunday traffic got so bad that Lake Elsinore officials requested law enforcement assistance from neighboring jurisdictions. At one point, the city pulled down the curtain and closed access to poppy-blanketed Walker Canyon.
“It was insane, absolutely insane,” said Mayor Steve Manos, who described it as a “poppy apocalypse.”
By Monday the #poppyshutdown announced by the city on Twitter was over and the road to the canyon was re-opened.
And people were streaming in again.
Young and old visitors to the Lake Elsinore area seemed equally enchanted as they snapped selfies against the natural carpet of iridescent orange.
Some contacted friends and family on video calls so they could share the beauty in real time. Artists propped canvasses on the side of the trail to paint the super bloom, while drones buzzed overhead.
Patty Bishop, 48, of nearby Lake Forest, was on her second visit. The native Californian had never seen such an explosion of color from the state flower. She battled traffic Sunday but that didn’t deter her from going back Monday for another look. She got there at sunrise and stayed for hours.
“There’s been so many in just one area,” she said. “I think that’s probably the main reason why I’m out here personally is because it’s so beautiful.”
Stephen Kim and his girlfriend got to Lake Elsinore even before sunrise Sunday to beat the crowds but there were already hundreds of people.
The two wedding photographers hiked on the designated trails with an engaged couple to do a photo shoot with the flowers in the background, but they were upset to see so many people going off-trail and so much garbage. They picked up as many discarded water bottles as they could carry.
“You see this beautiful pristine photo of nature but then you look to the left and there’s plastic Starbucks cups and water bottles on the trail and selfie sticks and people having road rage because some people were walking slower,” said Kim, 24, of Carlsbad.
Andy Macuga, honorary mayor of the desert town of Borrego Springs, another wildflower hotspot, said he feels for Lake Elsinore.
In 2017, a rain-fed super bloom brought in more than a half-million visitors to the town of 3,500. Restaurants ran out of food. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Traffic backed up on a single road for 20 miles (32 kilometers).
The city is again experiencing a super bloom.
The crowds are back. Hotels are full. More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest park with 1,000 square miles (2,590 sq. kilometers).
But it helps that the masses of blooms are appearing in several different areas this time, and some sections are fading, while others are lighting up with flowers, helping to disperse the crowds a bit.
Most importantly, Macuga said, the town’s businesses prepared this time as if a major storm was about to hit. His restaurant, Carlee’s, is averaging more than 550 meals a day, compared to 300 on a normal March day.
“We were completely caught off guard in 2017 because it was the first time that we had had a flower season like this with social media,” he said. “It helps now knowing what’s coming.”