People travel continents and cross vast seas to go on an adventure. For some, that is a luxury not easily attained, but the reward is still too big to just ignore. Mohsen Hosny faced this dilemma at a young age. "Four years ago, when I first entered a university, I saw an ad for the Three Peaks challenge. I tried reaching out to anybody that could help me do this challenge, and I couldn't find any. So, I let it go," Hosny says. He knew he wanted to go on adventure, and climbing Kilimanjaro wasn't exactly attainable at the time. So, he set his eyes on something a bit more local, yet formidable nonetheless. The three peaks challenge is climbing Egypt's three highest peaks -- Jebel Abbas, Saint Catherine Mountain, and Jebel Musa -- in one of three time frames: 72 hours, 24 hours, or 12 hours.Years went by and as his interest in his career as a physiotherapist grew, he wanted to do something that will even further his passion in his career as well as quench his thirst for adventure. "Four years after my first encounter with the challenge, I saw an ad for the Sinai Trail doing the Three Peaks," Hosny shares. It was a perfect opportunity to hit two birds with one stone – going on adventure he'll enjoy and strengthening his passion for his career. So, one month before the trip, he started applying what he learned in school about the human body to his workouts. Exercises included cardio, endurance, strength, and some nutritional tricks.He travelled to Sinai, and was paired with three more people who just happened to be triathlon champions: Beshoy Alber, Kareem Abdelkhalek, and Ibrahim Makram. The entire pack was 22 people, including the smaller group Hosny was in, who had their eyes set on setting a record that day. And while their morale was high with the early morning light, the mountains had something else to say. "With the first incline, things got real bad. We all started getting exhausted and sensed that this would not be easy. We hadn't even reached the base of Jebel Abbas!" he says. The groups got separated, and it was now just Hosny's group of four, along with a guide, and the road ahead.
Battling through the different slopes and his own demons, Hosny started feeling the weight of the task at hand. "I lived a sedentary life and didn't usually work out, and this was my first hike! Fortunately, I had three triathlon champions with me, because there was a lot I didn't know," he adds. They made it to Abbas in record time, and the first of the three peaks was out of the way – but with it, a good chunk of their energy. "After descending from Jebel Abbas, there was a valley afterwards in which we ran on our way to Saint Catherine Mountain," Hosny adds.But between Abbas and Catherine, there was a smaller hike that proved to be quite challenging. "There was this small mountain, Jebel Al-Ahmar, which was the most difficult part of the journey for me. It's a 4 or 5 kilometer power hike through large soft rocks, so there isn't any chance to rest through the inclination," Hosny says. Making their way through this road bump meant straining their muscles to avoid falling down, which even further drained their energy.Going through a roller coaster of emotions in a difficult time like that, when Hosny nearly fainted on Jebel Al-Ahmar, he started questioning his reasons for doing what he's doing, and he came to the conclusion that he wants to make a difference, and that doesn't come easy. "I remembered something Omar Samra once said to the people climbing Everest. He told them not to think about their reasons for doing this when the going gets tough, but to rather put one foot in front of the other and keep going," he adds. He grabbed a protein bar and did just that, but they were a bit delayed due to the difficulty of the conditions. While Saint Catherine was a relatively easy hike, they took their time with it to save their energy. "Once we reached the peak of Saint Catherine, I was relieved because the most difficult parts were behind us. What's next was Jebel Musa, and it's well paved because it's a tourist spot," Hosny says. With the help of some opioids and endorphins courtesy of their weary bodies, they went down Saint Catherine by sunset, and got over their fears of finishing in the dark and went to Jebel Musa. "The 750-stair hike to the top of Jebel Musa was extremely difficult. We scrambled our way to the top with the last ounce of our energy, with some of us so -- naturally -- high that they were singing weird songs," he addsWith Musa, their energy was completely drained, but they still had a hike back to their camp. "None of us had any energy left, and the road felt like it was endless. We kept asking ourselves why we're doing this. I think this part was so difficult because we got a feeling that we're done with the challenge, so why is this still so hard?" Hosny recalls. They dragged themselves to the looming camp, and arrived at 9:40 PM after a trip that had started after the break of dawn. Their journey took 14 hours and 40 minutes, and they finished only to find no one else made it to the camp because it started raining and snowing, not to mention the lightning. So, the rest of the groups decided to camp on Saint Catherine to make it in the morning. Their group was the only one that had completed the Three Peaks Challenge, and they even found out they set a new record! The new route they took is 6 kilometers longer than the old one, which has a different record of 7 hours. The other group that did the new route before them did it in 24 hours.While the journey was painful and exhausting, it gave Mohsen and his comrades the adventure they wanted, not to mention a new record, and it'll probably not be his last. "So many different feelings flood you – the pain, excitement, and joy of knowing your limits. When we woke up, people started coming in and we were treated as champions. I think they were the best three hours of my life."
Photos courtesy of Mohsen Hosny.