The great pyramids of Giza, Egypt weren't always climbable. The stepped sides of the pyramids were originally covered with limestone. Over the years the limestone has been stripped off to be used for building projects. Also, much of the limestone has simply eroded away under the influence of sand (they have lots of it) and wind. Part of the limestone covering is still visible at the top of Khafre.

Of course, the stair shaped form of the pyramids have attracted many people to climb these structures. One climber should be mentioned; Hefnawy the Champion. Hefnawy was an Egyptian tour guide whose record was that he could climb up and down the Great Pyramid in less than seven minutes. The president, Gamal Abdul Nasser used to have him climb the pyramid as an attraction for visiting Heads of State.

I remember the stories from my teacher Latin, who as a young student back in the sixties climbed up Khufu. Not a small feat if you'd ever see the fellow; an erudite, quiet man whose greatest enjoyment was to play the organ for the local church on Sunday. A great guy though, and he would blush from excitement if you managed to have him to tell the story again in class. It sure beats learning Latin declensions.

Climbing the pyramids used to be allowed, or at least not regulated. However, in the past if you were to undertake such an adventure, you would be overwhelmed by guides who will either claim you're going to die of a curse going up, from a fall (and that's serious) going down, or simply being shot by tourist police.

Nowadays, as far as I know climbing is illegal. Too many people have died (and in fact still do during illegal climbs). The 51 degree incline goes far beyond any acceptable building code for stairways; not that it was ever designed for this purpose. The rocky steps are far from perfect after thousands of years of sand blasting. The bottom line: if you fall, you will soon discover the bottom line.

But... say, one could of course take a taxi to the Giza plateau at 3 AM. No tourists would be around to raise unwanted attention, and no guards would be able to see any climbers in the desert darkness. There would be a guard at the gate, but small change may do great wonders. Quietness would be key, to avoid other guards with dogs patrolling the compound.

A climber could proceed to the north face of the pyramids, since this side is less illuminated by bright spot lights. Climbing Menkaure is probably be the easiest and safest, since it is the smallest pyramid, and also farthest away from humanity. On the other hand, the limestone on top of Khafre would make this pyramid impossible to ascend completely, but the Great pyramid of Khufu is fully climbable. The corner stones of the pyramids may be less sandy but slightly more eroded, and one would probably have to traverse on the way up. No doubt the view is wonderful, with the open desert on one side, and the vast city of Cairo on the other. Listen to chanting imams from the minnarets, while watching the most gorgeous sunrise.

However, the descent would be damn steep, so one should really take it easy going down. Oh, there are probably tons of mosquitoes out there (doing who knows what), so insect repellant could be handy!

But I'm just fantasizing. It's illegal and too dangerous. I would never recommend doing such a thing to anyone.

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