Tuesday, 20 March 2012

We Found Aiin Heet Cave

We found Aiin Heet cave, also known as Dahl Heet according to website searches undertaken many moons ago in my quest for 'something to do in Riyadh'.

Our second attempt at finding the cave, because we had failed in our first search (and you can read all about that in 'Search For a Cave'), was a last minute thing which is why we engaged Mr Noor and his taxi instead of forking out rent money on the trusty Yukon.

Once again we enjoyed the dusty industrial view along the Riyadh - Al Kharj highway toward Heet.  This time, after a bit more time on Google, I had garnered a clearer map of the caves location.
Ain Heet Cave is very easy to find with a map.  Part of the drive requires a little off-roading, but nothing too strenuous - unless you're a taxi driver not wanting to ding your car.

We followed a track in the dust that took us up the rise toward the remains of a building.  At this point, the track heads down toward a massive rock face that looks as though it could, at any moment, collapse into the opening at it's base.  One can imagine driving into an abyss.

The taxi was parked and the Ain Heet hole assessed.  Hubster was doubtful.  Mr Noor was off like a fox, skipping and jumping his way down, every now and then stopping to make owl noises that echoed round the cliff face.  Hubster looked at me thinking, as I was, that any moment a huge boulder from above was going to break loose and bury someone.

Our descent was somewhat slower than that of our ever reliable taxi driver and, every now and then, Hubster would say, 'Are you sure there's water down here?  It's just rocks, there's no cave, there can't be'.  He repeated the same to Mr Noor once he caught up with him for a 'man-time' assessment of our situation.

Man-time assessment of descent into Ain Heet
Mr Noor, however, was willing to believe I might be right.   He encouraged Hubster on regardless of the ever present thought, that Hubster frequently mentioned throughout our visit, of a rock fall and our absolute inability to survive it.

Soon, there was a cry - 'It's flatter down here!'  The boulder clad decline had hidden the cavern that opens up after passing under the lip of the mountain hovering overhead.

Man-time assessment of cavern beneath the mountain.
The men-folk had torches and were exploring the cavern.  Then came the call I was hoping for, 'Hey, there's water down here!  I rattled my dags (Kiwi lingo for got a move on) and sure enough there, in a far-corner of the cavern, was a still and muck covered, mini-lake.

The water.
Hubster was impressed there was water in Ain Heet, though less impressed with the condtion of it.  'This is what we came here for?' he says.

'No, there's another chamber.  We have to find another chamber'.

'Another one,' says Mr Noor.  And off he goes with torch in hand and Hubster in dubious pursuit.  Honestly, that man should learn to be more trusting!

There is muffled conversation from the other end of the cavern.  Having finally captured a reasonable, though not fabulous, photo of the mini-lake, I clamber my way toward the muffle.

Hubster is on hands and knees peering into a man-hole sized gap created by two flat overlapping, plates of rock.  Mr Noor's voice can be heard rising and falling, in obvious prayer, from within.  Say's Hubster, 'Are you praying you can get back out of there Noor?'  There is no response.

'Wait here', Hubster says as I approach, and he spins around and slip, slides down a rope into the hole.  A rope?  Where the heck did that come from?  Anchored into the rock slab and disappearing into the hole currently containing my two companions is a taut, nylon rope.  The anchor point is eyed, just for a second, with doubt about it's strength and stability.

Curiousity, the fact that the rope didn't break when Hubster used it and hearing echoed voices call to each other underneath a mountain of rock meant the instruction to 'Wait There' for no good reason was ignored.  I head into the cavity.

The drop down isn't difficult.  At the bottom are the boys and rest of the lake.

The lake
Whoa!  Cool!  Excellent! - just a view exclamations that come to mind about Ain Heet cave.

Mr Noor was balanced atop the tip of two rocks peeking above the murky, and litter strewn, water.  Having heard, numerous times on this tiki tour, my ascertion that people have scuba dived this cave, he was looking for the watery passage underneath the mountain.

Flashes on camera's are wonderful things.  They make it seem the world underneath the mountain is full of light.  Trust me, it's not!

We spent a bit of time contemplating the formation of this place, it's condition, historical water levels (as mentioned on websites about Ain Heet Cave), what might be worth seeing with diving gear and a good light, and how keen (or crazy) you have to be to haul scuba gear all the way down here.  Mid musing I asked Noor - 'Did you turn off your taxi?'  For some reason the quiet that surrounded us while each were engaged in our own thoughts made me think of the still running taxi.

Mr Noor dissappeared quick smart, guided by the graffiti on the wall.

Hubster and I took a more leisurely approach to exiting the cave.  Once we'd scrambled back up the rocky man-hole, we viewed the sky above through the laughing lips of the mountain and realised it's a bloody long way back to the top!

Mr Noor was collapsed in the taxi when Hubster got there, completely exhausted.  He had run back up the hill because the taxi had been left running with the keys in and all doors unlocked.  'Crickey's Noor,' says Hubster, 'someone could've taken our lunch!'

The boot was duly unpacked and a picnic lunch of dates, cheeses, tuna salad and green tea was served helping us all to recover from a tiring, yet exhilirating morning. 

Picnic and relaxing next to Ain Heet

Map and Co-ordinates for Ain Heet Cave

Tomorrow the body would regret the activity, my hamstrings had started complaining on the return climb.   But thoughts of stiff muscles were forgotten on a picnic rug with tea in hand, neath a mountain face at the edge of Ain Heet.

*Update:  We returned to Ain Heet Cave some months later.  Read about the fun we had Swimming in Ain Heet Cave.

Ka Kite,

1 comment:

  1. Great Post.... Thanks for such vivid description with photos...



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