Kuwait – Unnamed Point

Kuwait
Unnamed Point – ~1000ft

At the approximate summit area

At the approximate summit area

Eric Gilbertson
September 5, 2016

The highest point in Kuwait is a bit of a mystery. Based on SRTM (satellite elevation surveys) the highest ground is in the southwest corner of the country, near the Iraq and Saudi Arabia borders, but there is such little variation in the topography in that area that there is uncertainty in the exact location. SRTM data shows the highest point as a spot near the Saudi Arabia border, with an elevation of 306m (1,004ft). However, SRTM

Soviet-era topographic map of SW Kuwait

Soviet-era topographic map of SW Kuwait

data can have an error up to 16m (http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/statistics.html), and the surrounding area varies in elevation by much less than 16m. Thus SRTM alone cannot definitively pinpoint the highpoint location.

A Soviet-era topographic map of Kuwait

SRTM-derived highpoint location as green circle (source - peakbagger.com)

SRTM-derived highpoint location as green circle (source – peakbagger.com)

(http://gigapan.com/gigapans/130369) shows the highest surveyed point as 285m, at a location about 10 miles WNW of the SRTM highpoint. Another online topographic map resource (http://en-gb.topographic-map.com/places/Kuwait-5421615/) shows the highest point almost exactly at the 285m survey point from the Soviet topographic map, listing an elevation of 294m (965ft). The source of this data is unclear and not listed on the site, though the resolution suggests it may be satellite based.

Map from topographic-map.com showing highest elevation 965ft

Map from topographic-map.com showing highest elevation 965ft

The true highpoint location will likely not be known with certainty unless Lidar or some very careful surveying is done. For now, I would consider it sufficient to visit the approximate highpoint location and count this as visiting the highpoint. I chose to visit the location of the Soviet-surveyed point, which happens to be on a side road a few hundred meters from the Kuwait-Saudi Arabia border crossing checkpoint.

On September 4 I boarded a plane in Manama, Bahrain and soon arrived in Kuwait City that evening. The temperature outside was 50C (122F) and it felt like I just walked into an oven. I rented a car and immediately started driving out of town. I briefly stopped in a grocery store in Jahra and loaded up on pita bread and hummus, before driving west into the desert on

50C on my car thermometer parked in the shade!

50C on my car thermometer parked in the shade!

highway 70. By 11pm I turned off on a side road, and then pulled off onto the sandy desert. It was hard to

tell how soft the sand would be, but luckily I did not get stuck. There were no lights around, so I reclined the seat and went to sleep. I left the windows open all night, and even though it only dropped into the mid 90s F, a light breeze kept me reasonably comfortable.

In the morning I continued driving west, and soon arrived at the border crossing for Saudi Arabia. Just 100m before the crossing there is a side road to the

A nice campsite

A nice campsite

right leading to some sort of police center. I took this road, which follows the border fence. The highpoint location from topographic-map.com is just before the police center along this road, so I stopped just before the police center, got out to a small dirt mound on the side of the road, and took my summit photo here.

The whole surrounding area appears to be almost completely flat, with the only topography some dirt mounds on the side of the road, likely left over from construction. In fact, highway 70 is elevated a few meters above the surrounding desert, and this road near the checkpoint may in fact be the highest ground, though it is man-made. I drove off the road in a

Sand blowing across the road

Sand blowing across the road

few other places to cover more area, then headed back to the coast. The wind actually picked up until it was blowing sand across the road like a blizzard. I drove across the country to the eastern border with Iraq, but had to stop short when a sand-drift blocked the road. That evening I stayed in a cheap hotel in Kuwait city so I could clean up before my long flight back to the US the next morning.

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