Access issues. In the middle of 2007 the Egyptian Tourism Ministry announced that they were banning climbing in Sinai, which would have effectively stopped all climbing in Egypt. However, by late autumn this had been rescinded and Dave Lucas made a Sinai traverse without problem. In fact Lucas is being salaried for two years to lead treks and climbing trips, and to train the Jabaliya Bedouin in the St Katherines region in trek leadership and first aid, a project managed in Cairo and financed by the EU. Other British trips are planned for 2008.
The extensive mountainous area of the Red Sea Coast is rather different from the Sinai, and access still appears to be a no no, partly due to the exact line of the Egypt-Sudan border being in dispute and the discovery of oil offshore. Tony Howard and friends have been trying to go to this area on a yearly basis, their latest attempt in early 2008, but have been steadfastly refused by the Egyptian Army despite personal requests from local contacts. But there are others who suggest Egypt is incapable of banning climbing, as the regulators don’t understand the concept, and in any case the Sinai is run outside Cairo’s influence, with the mountain valleys full of opium farms that are operated, protected, or financed by the army and police chiefs, who certainly wouldn’t listen to authorities in Cairo.
Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, www.climbmgazine.com