Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A perfect day to descend 65m into darkness

Caroline and I have gotten a little behind on blogging because we have been so busy! In the last few weeks, we had Passover, a visit from my family, and a visit from our friend Mike. We've logged a lot of hours on buses and trains, but this weekend we are taking it easy, so we hope to catch up on blogging a little!

My parents and siblings came to visit us here in Israel for Pesach (Passover), and we had a lot of fun adventures together. Our first few days were a real whirlwind. We went to see our family friends the Mosses in Ra'anana, and they hosted us for a really nice Seder. We brought my family up to Haifa to see Caroline's museum, the Technion where I work and our apartment.

From there, we went to Jerusalem and the surrounding area, where we went on an awesome hike together. My dad had found this hike, called Fox's Chimney, and it was a great find!
Wow that is a shiny reflective spot on my shirt!

The setting of the hike was really beautiful, in the hills alongside the Dead Sea. I'd been to the Dead Sea area many times before, but we have usually gone early in the morning. I had never seen the area in the late afternoon light as we did this time. The views were even better than ever.

We started by hiking up the hills. The Dead Sea is actually the lowest elevation anywhere on Earth, about 1300 ft below sea level, so that even as we hiked up we were still very low down! The hike was a lot of fun, since it included some areas where we had to use our hands to almost climb a little.
This is my favorite type of hike, where you have to do a little bit of light climbing.
We felt pretty cool when we made it to the top of the hills, and we were rewarded with great views!
From the left: Tamar (Joel's wife), my sister Tali, my dad with Caroline, my mom, and then my brother Joel
After a bit more climbing, we arrived at the namesake of the trek: a 65m rappelling descent into the Fox's Chimney cave. Our guide helped us put on our helmets and harnesses, so we looked really cool:
The girls
The boys
From there, our guide helped us go one-by-one into the gaping maw of the 65m descent.
Here is Tali with our guide, as she begins rappelling into the cave
Here goes Tamar, looking like she's totally got this under control!
My mom, looking cool as she heads down!
Caroline had this huge smile on her face the whole time!
The start of the descent was what you might imagine when you think of rappelling. Your feet were against the rock, and you slowly let out the rope to lower yourself down, walking along the wall. However, after about 5m, the wall curved way inwards and you found yourself hanging freely, dangling in the cave. At that point you are just lowering yourself down into empty space. It was a pretty crazy feeling!
This picture kind of gives you a feeling what it was like. Just realize that the black spot a little below the opening is a person! The drop is so big that the people looked really tiny at the start.
Inside the cave was really cool too. The Dead Sea is known for having extremely high concentration of salt, and even the rocks in this nearby cave had tons of salt too.
All these stalactites are made from salt deposits 
It was also COMPLETELY pitch black. There was absolutely zero light, so we all had to wear headlamps as we climbed. When we turned the lights off, we couldn't even see our hand an inch from our face. It was a very cool experience.
More fun climbing!
This photo without a flash shows what it was like when we were climbing in the dark
When we finally made it out, night had fallen and we were treated to this beautiful view of the moon rising over Jordan and reflected in the Dead Sea.
Please leave comments, we love hearing from you all! We will post lots more pics and stories soon


  1. whoa, that looks super cool! How did you get out of the cave? I hope you didn't have to climb back up!

  2. Good point Kschu! We did not have to climb back out. Once we were in the cave, we slowly made our way down to the level where we had started. That's why the first part of the hike was climbing up, so that we could do the rappelling and end up back where we started.

  3. Thats how you got out so fast, mom and I climbed back up!!!

  4. Whoa!!! That looks super duper cool! I am jealous.