Calling all adventurers. Fancy joining a club that organises trips scaling mountains?
Hiking is a niche pursuit – more so when the nearest mountains are at least a two-hour drive away. But with a little help from Ski Dubai, one local group is getting more and more of the city’s residents into the sport.
Those involved with this group, called The UAE Trekkers, come from all walks of life, but all share a passion for getting outdoors and exploring. The group trains in various locations, from Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi to the snowy slopes of Ski Dubai in order to get (and stay) in shape for mountainous exploration.
Trips to hike Kilimanjaro in November and Yemen for Eid are just two of the exciting activities this group of over 300 adventurers at a time have undertaken recently, all founded and regulated through online forum www.meetup.com.
The organiser of the group, Amy Subaey, says the initiative marks a great way to get fit and meet new, like-minded people. ‘The meetup concept is great – get people with similar interests together and they will make friends and get to do the activities they love. Though there are many meetup groups that are outdoor-activity oriented, we are the only group which is specifically focused on hiking in the mountains of the UAE and Oman. The solution to finding people to hike with was to start a meetup group.’
Upcoming hikes and activities include Socotra in Yemen, a mountaineering course in Nepal and a spring trip to Kilimanjaro.
Amy says anyone of any skill level can get involved. ‘Definitely all abilities may join and this is the beauty of the group. We have very experienced hikers who enjoy being a support, a resource and an inspiration to the less experienced hikers. Nobody is ever made to feel that their lack of experience is a problem or an inconvenience.’
The 1,500-strong group attracts a large amount of people to its training sessions, but the hikes have limited numbers, depending on availability.
But what about during the summer when it’s too hot to hike? ‘We do have a few secrets – Ski Dubai definitely is a pleasure and a huge privilege to be able to train on during Friday mornings, the mountains of Oman are actually quite doable even in July because they are at 1,000 metres and, although it’s painful, we continue to train on the stairs, outside, even in the summer, at least once a week. It also helps to plan the international trips during the summer holidays so that we can just leave the heat behind,’ Amy tells us.
The UAE Trekkers train Mondays and Wednesdays every week at Zayed Sports City and climb the Ski Dubai slopes on Friday mornings before it opens, to condition themselves. ‘We do an interval training workout and then practise some of the moves that we will use when we are on a mountain, which is a lot like snow. It’s an hour and a half, and we’re all beat at the end of it. We also carry five to seven litres of water in our backpacks, which is what we would usually have to carry for hikes in the heat,’ adds Amy.
Participant Lama Helweh says: ‘It’s really fun and motivating. You realise you have become stronger every week and that is really encouraging. The best part is the sense of community you feel with like-minded people, and it is always great meeting the same (and new) people every week.’
For potential hikers, Amy says: ‘Don’t be intimidated. Getting on a mountain starts with just walking. Hiking is a great way to get fit because you have the reward of reaching a goal and a summit each time. And if you want to get ready for it, start by climbing some stairs!’
Search for UAE Trekkers on www.meetup.com