People: Mustafa Sahin

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Age: 42
Nationality: British (Turkish Origin)
Profession: Chief Outdoor Instructor & Company Director, Challenging Adventures, Ras Al Khaimah

“It’s important for me to feel at one with nature, respecting what it has to offer always, leaving nothing but a footprint behind and taking nothing but the memories with me along my journey,” says the avid mountaineer Mustafa Sahin, for whom being in the mountains is like connecting  with his inner self.

What does mountaineering mean to you?
Mountaineering to me translates into freedom, peace and respect. I love nothing more than mountaineering to explore nature; it gives me a sense of freedom without the constraints of modern life, leaving behind the pressures of city life, the hustle and bustle of traffic, people, electronics, etc.

When and how did you get into mountaineering?
I was born in the Taurus mountains of Turkey and grew up living there. I would take the animals up the mountain to graze and bring them back before dark fell. Sometimes this would be riding mules or horses or sometimes it would be on foot. During the summer months we would move to stay on top of the mountain at a place called “Yayla” (I named my daughter after this amazing place!) for the cool air and the plantation and summer farming. In the winter I would go hunting with my father or brother, climbing up the cliff to reach the beehives to collect the wildest of mountain honey.

As a child, my favourite time of year was waiting for the spring to arrive. This was the signal I longed for so we could go exploring in the mountains once more. Spending my childhood and having such colourful happy memories has definitely left its mark on me!

How would you like to inspire others?
I want to encourage people to move out of their comfort zones and explore the amazing world that we have beneath our feet, taking them back to nature to appreciate where our food comes from and how the mountains affect our everyday lives. I hope the more people see this, the better chance we have of preserving what we have for our future.

Where in the UAE and Oman do you go for mountaineering?
I have been mountaineering throughout RAK – I don’t think there is a wadi that I have not been to! I’ve also been to most parts of Oman, although one place that is on my to-do list is Salalah. I think it’s such a shame that once these beautiful places become accessible by vehicles (I know it’s lovely to make it accessible for everyone), there’s an increase in the amount of destruction and mess that humans leave behind. This really upsets me.

Please share some tips for a good mountaineering expedition.
When going into the mountains, be prepared for all kinds of weather conditions. It is very important to have the correct kit, food and drink, understand the timing, the time of the day you start and finish the expedition, the time of the year and the kind of weather at the bottom or top of the mountain. It’s no use starting an expedition with glorious sunshine at the base of a mountain wearing shorts and t-shirts to get the top and be faced with freezing wind or rain and not have the correct clothing to protect yourself from these elements. This is where danger sets in and the situation can spiral out of control.

Arm yourself with a couple of alternate plans. Dynamic risk assessment is vital to the safety of yourself and others.

People always forget the humidity and wind chill when checking the weather as this makes a massive difference to what the actual weather conditions are. Don’t just look at the temperature, look at the whole picture. If unsure, refer to an expert for advice.

Words by: Bandana Jain
Photos by: Supplied

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