#AnEverlastingAdventure

A hashtag created from a lifestyle, portrayed through imagery in hope that this video will expand indefinitely.

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Right of Passage

A long 7 hour drive took us to the majestic Selmah Plateau, Oman. A remote place where at night the Milky Way resurrects all fairy-tales.

Thursday morning, Toufic and I headed to Arch Cave along with two new cavers: Islam and Karim.

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I started rigging (setting ropes) and Toufic followed correcting any mistake I might have done. Karim and Islam followed to watch how rigging is done.

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Meanwhile next to the campsite, Dan and Will were rigging 7th Hole where three teams are to descend the next day. After we finished from Arch, we found ourselves at the campsite again, where Pike had taken a batch of newbies down the first drop at 7th Hole and were already on their way up. I got the urge to drop into 7th Hole and check the water levels in the cave.

On the way down I crossed ways with Will who had just finished rigging. As expected, the water levels were higher than any previous trips, so with no further delays I headed back to top. 

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Back on surface we had a mouth-watering supper, discussed logistics and rested on the sound of strong winds.

The next day, the first team dropped down at 7AM led by Daniel & Qais with Ryan, Vicky, Islam and Elias on board. Next was Thoby & Douglas’ team at 8:30AM, along with Jana, Karim, Ramy and Amr. Third team dropped at 9:30 led by Toufic, Rayan and I with 4 team members: Simon, Fadi, Ahmed and Fei. The Spartans Team composed of Will, Pike, Leslie and Nadine dropped down through the other side of the system. After a while, a decision was made not to go through the cave but rather explore the chambers before the water pools.

Image(Thanks Karim for the picture)

 

It was such a nice scenery to see the sun beam penetrating the drop above you while several lights dance in the dark underneath.

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By the time my team reached the bottom, the first team was getting ready to go back up. We explored around squeezing in the dungeons and then had to wait for people to get out of the cave. Rayan, Toufic and I were the last to go up at 11 P.M. spending a total of 13 hours inside. Once on top, everyone was already around the campfire, so the cave was clear. Toufic, Rayan and I decided to drop down and de-rig 7th Hole, which means dropping 250 meters and going back up AGAIN! In a heartbeat we were back on ropes and on our way. Moving fast and efficiently we managed to de-rig the cave in a record time of an hour and a half.

Image(Thanks to Karim for the picture)

The last day, new cavers learned how to coil ropes and pack the communal gear. On our way out of the Plateau, we encountered a beautiful convocation of eagles (group of eagles). Toufic and I managed to approach and snap some pictures.

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This trip taught me a lot of things, most importantly that you don’t always have to be serious in serious times, give life a smile and have An Everlasting Adventure!

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The Art of Dipping – Canyoning in the infamous Snake Canyon / Gorge

A recap on the last canyoning trip to Snake Canyon edited and produced by Toufic Abou Nader, featuring four Gonzos in action!

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The infamous Via Ferrata – Snake Canyon, Bani Awf, Oman

Warning: This course is very dangerous and currently closed, do not attempt to do this!

Check out the full blog https://senseofgonzo.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/the-optional-alternative-for-death-defying-decisions/

Enjoy!

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The optional alternative for death defying decisions

The band of brothers, adrenaline thirsty rangers riding together on the vast highway to Bani Awf, Oman. Sharing stories, describing moments and discussing unearthly events. The cool breeze skimming through our hair, and black clouds glooming in the distance, we’ve been warned about upcoming thunderstorms, and others -who possessed the wits- backed down and stayed in Dubai.

It was an unexpected storm, surprisingly fast moving and carrying nothing but adventure. We hit Snake Canyon, the big one, steady fast steps. A splash in the water broke the serenity of the canyon’s silence, four adventurers soared with Toufic trying to impress the Canyon’s Mermaids with his incredible signature: The Eagle Dive.

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After multiple dips and swims, we arrived to the big 30 meters Pitch. “ROOOOOOPE”, and it went whipping the air until it found rest on the rock underneath.

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Once on the rock a bet was set: Toufic was to do a backflip from the rock and dive into the pool below us. Extremely unsafe due to the rock formation, legs spinning cutting the void as well as the calm surface. We’ve got a touch down!

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A piece of cake, then I jumped as if I was going to eat a piece of cake, instead my jaws bit the cold water below. After some screams and some good heartfelt words, we moved on.

Image*Yeeehaa, I can ride a rodeo!

We managed to cut through the canyon in an incredible timing: two hours and a half. (Usually it takes four to six hours).

Lunch was served. The refreshed Gonzos were ready for the next challenge: the Via Ferrata, which is declared unsafe and closed a couple years ago.

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The march started roughly 200 meters above the canyon below. We rigged the first zip line, despite the metal bar used to lock the maze. The risk induced adventure began. Zip, Zip, Zip, Zip, everyone arrived to the other side. Traversed on the edge hanging of nothing but metal wires rigged into rusty 20 -something- years bolts.

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After traversing four breathtaking zip lines, 200 meters above ground, and with occasional water drops here and there, the wind was picking up just before hitting the monkey bridge making the steel pods wet and slippery.

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A bit of climbing we reached the monkey bridge. I started traversing and mid-way the wind was pushing me to the limits, this only meant one thing: LAUGHING in the face of it and posing for the camera! Cause who cares if you fall? But a nice photogenic picture is a must! I must thank the rain for washing the sweat of a tired face.

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On the next day, we went to the majestic Wadi Dumm and went through the canyon with more intense and nerve testing jumps.

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*Do You Dare?

 

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*Cause we do

And by the way, some of the bolts on the Via Ferrata came off. Therefore, I highly advise against using and loading the bolts. In other words, I advise to keep your hands off of it in order not to live the rest of your life in a box. That being said have An (somewhat safe) Everlasting Adventure!

PS: Check the video for the Via Ferrata which is available on the blog!

(https://senseofgonzo.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/the-infamous-via-ferrata-snake-canyon-bani-awf-oman/)

And this one for Snake Canyon:

(https://senseofgonzo.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/the-art-of-dipping-canyoning-in-the-infamous-snake-canyon-gorge/)

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Image*It’s not very cheerful to swim with ropes and bags

Image*Toufic is generally shy from cameras

Image*The cave in Snake Canyon

Image*Man is a disease

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Image*Pretty peaceful, right?

Image*The serenity of Wadi Dumm pools

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Image*Karate Kid

11*The face of achievement

 

 

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Incredible Snoring Skills

Let the games begin…

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WOW was my first reaction. I came in contact with the sharks. I swam with them, next to them and I managed to capture some close up pictures.

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*Yes two reef sharks

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*Holy Molly thats a shark

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*And Another!

This adventure came as a toast to Leanne’s birthday, a group of friends met up as usual only this time a very special guest stole all the attention: Kenzo.

Kenzo is a bilingual Belgian Malawa with many talents, most importantly sleeping. And yes he slept in my tent for a while before ditching (He complained from my snoring, a loyal dog got irritated from MY snoring, in my defense I NEVER snore, just a few times when Im possessed).

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*A selfie with the Carrot-eating dog: Kenzo

I also got the chance to learn new stuff. For starters, we had access to two SUP (Stand Up Paddle) boards courtesy of Mark, so everyone got a taste of how it feels to work your balance, your coordination along with your falling techniques. Another activity added to the list; I’ll admit, I felt bored at times, but it is great to clear your mind and focus on the task at hand. Image

*George, The SUP Warrior

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*Safa did NOT fall! But she screamed juuuuust a bit

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* Meditation Guru, Amr

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*Juraj mastering the flat-face maneuver

Moreover, some of the climbers got the chance to learn some theoretical trad climbing from Mark. Trad or traditional climbing is a style of rock climbing in which a climber should place certain gear on/in the wall to protect against falls.

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*Mark displaying how a nut works

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*Mark traversing a crack under an overhang..

I felt a great joy to see people enjoying themselves at this incredible spot in Oman, climbing, paddling, hiking, caving, swimming and above all forging new relations. I congratulate everyone who stepped out of their comfort zone and tackled a goal or two.

Happy Birthday Leanne and may you have An Everlasting Adventure.

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*Nini on lead

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*Mark and George rocking Khasab

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*Sea Turtle Rock

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*Mireia tapping the bell

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*More Meat

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*No words for Rayan, he rocked it!

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*The three amigos

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*Jana’s dedication pictured

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*Happy birthday Leanne!

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*Ta-Da!

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The Sand-Repellent Lunatics

A video done by Toufic Abou Nader on a trip we did earlier in January to the Empty Quarter desert.

Enjoy the crazy sand bashing, whether it’s on wheels, no wheels, plastic , rubber , latex and last but not least flesh.

Enjoy!

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•M83• Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun•

An insight on cosmos, nature and existence! Worth watching

monkyseemonkydo

When nature and music combine, magic is created.

The video is Yosemite HD II.

”A 200+ mile backpacking experience through Yosemite National Park captured by Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill. This project was filmed over the course of 10 months. They spent a combined 45 days in the park capturing the images in this video.

To view the entire story, please visit projectyose.com or facebook.com/projectyose

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Operation Code-Name: Black-Tipped Torpedoes

On the 6th we charged off in search for another adventure, however, this one’s kick-off was unusual. After spending an hour en-route to Ras Al Khaimah, Toufic suggested fueling on adrenaline at the local movies. The movie was an exaggerated shout of wasted Hollywood blood and beheaded warriors. Frustrated from the movie, Leanne managed to ravish us with home-made veggie delights: edamame and hommos.

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Once we crossed the border, we drove for another hour through the majestic lands of Khasab, Oman. We set up camp by the docks and were lucky enough to be entertained by the local fox orchestra. After a standing ovation to the talented performers, we broke camp on the smell of home-made figs jam.

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At 9, we did a rendezvous with the brave mercenaries and set sail towards a secluded beach. Once the Gonzo flag was erected on the shore, each troupe went scouting for a strategic place to raise a fort. Mine perched on a low cliff that divides two sandy shores and dominated the horizon as if –for an instance- you can reach and manipulate the elements with your fingertips.

ImageImage*Sunrise as seen from my tent

After a small march, the elite task force rigged several ropes on the higher cliffs to insert adrenaline pumped climbers on the beach underneath, which faces our campsite.

Image*Will and Toufic rigging

Naval support was led by a mysterious navy seal; the first task was to swim across to the campsite and lead the naval destroyers, aka kayaks. In the open waters, the brave seal was circled by three enemy submarines, a veteran unit by the name “Black Tipped Reef Sharks”.

Image*Reef sharks

Skilfully maneuvering away, the warrior managed to disengage and find his way to the destroyers.

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Once the beach was conquered, the personnel retreated to their forts to celebrate the victorious day. However, the navy seal was short on supplies and low on energy. One last task for an adventure packed day: go back to the port to re-supply. This was unachievable without breaking a deal with a sea pirate. Such, he hitchhiked back to the port with Abdulla a Moroccan pirate, re-supplied in an undisclosed establishment by the code-name: Lulu Hypermarket, then sailed back to the battlefield under the cover of darkness.

As the first sun rays broke against one of the destroyers, the triumphant sailor was fishing when one of the submarines was spotted: all men to their positions, firearms engaged.

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The orange destroyer was closing on the floating submarine, but just before the target was acquired on the engagement systems, the black fins submerged in the water and vanished from the radar.

Image*You can spot two sharks a few meters in front of my kayak

Later on, routine maneuvers took place on the conquered beach for half a day up until the extraction unit showed up at 17:00. The personnel broke camp, swept the beaches and exfiltrated.

Mission Accomplished.

Image*Toufic auditioning for the next Spiderman movie

IMG_0469 (Large)*Leanne on belay

Image*The famous Kinder-Crepe

Image*Sunrise fishing.. invisible rod.

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The fight or flight 1k sprint

Seeing all those Halloween costumes amuse me, some are creative, some are dull but some are incarnated and alive. Back when I was 10 years old, my cousin took me to watch a theatrical show in a nearby school, roughly a kilometer away from home, so he suggested going on foot.

Growing up, I was always pushed to show and prove my courage – typical Spartan-like family atmosphere – so I never hesitated to take upon a challenge, nor to show fear whatsoever… and what is fear but an illusion.

The play was supposed to be for children, but it turned to an intimidating horror movie shortly after it started. A grim reaper with a huge scythe and an awful scream went on running around the stage killing people. And it stuck to the back of my head.

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The play finished while I was trying to catch my breath and with a heart pumping faster than an Olympic swimmer. I was thrilled, more like frightened and haunted by some thoughts.

Now we had to go back home, on a dark road, climbing stairs to take shortcuts –long dark and deserted stairs covered with vegetation, you can figure out the scene if you’ve watched a good share of horror movies. We started walking and my cousin was 5 years older than me, so he was faster, he kept saying we should walk faster because he have to catch a TV show, so I was trying hardly to maintain pace. Falling behind, every 10 meters I would look behind me and I would see a dark shadow with a long sharp blade trying to catch me. I realized I should be faster and faster and faster, super-fast, I mustn’t let him catch me, not today. If I keep up with my cousin I would be safe.

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After a while reality hit me, and my body could no longer maintain pace in this dreadful marathon. I had to stop and explain, before I said a word my protective cousin broke words, and my expectations shattered: he was petrified from this black fearful figure.

My instinctive reflexes kicked in, I had to save the day. I explained how community helps in overcoming these situations –in a 10 years old language, because probably I am not Aristotle- I also assured that if we stick together as one unit we will defeat anything, after all this grim reaper only lives on that stage, they must have locked him there, he can’t have escaped. But deep inside I was still convinced he is after us. I encouraged him to continue and I assured that we are completely safe.

I spent around 6 months trying to overcome this illusion and another 9 years learning that the grim reaper do live on a stage, and that stage is but an area called the Amygdala, an area located in our brains. The grim reaper is incarnated within, he feeds on our souls and kills our ambitions. The more you feed him the more he kills your ambitions.

This experience continues to teach me not to take an “if” as a factor in my aftermath reasoning. Yes I am glad I watched this play, and I wouldn’t want to miss it, it might have impacted me negatively on the short term, but it was a fruitful experience on the long term.

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(none of the pics above are mine)

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