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review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009) (Read 7537 times)

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review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 18, 2010, 08:24:49 am
The United Arab Emirates is the last place on earth many travelling climbers would consider as a destination for overseas exploits in the vertical. Considering its association with extreme heat, endless dry deserts and the historic wanderings of Wilfred Thesiger through ‘Arabian Sands’, it is an apparently unlikely place to find choice exotic rock. However, the remarkable limestone karst landscape that exists on the Arabian Peninsular's eastern coastal fringe, beyond Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and in the deep wadis (river valleys) of Ras Al Khaimah and the lofty Hajar Mountains, provides solid, varied and at times frightening climbing, in wild positions and in other-worldly locations.

Much of the rock, from a distance, looks like violently loose choss, inviting rapid demise for anyone foolish enough to attempt it. In reality, appearances are deceptive, and most of the crags described are remarkably solid and of respectable quality, though occasionally flanked by tottering limestone horror shows. Many routes listed in the guide required judicious cleaning prior to their first ascents, but the underlying rock is, for the most part, dependable and sound.

UAE Rock Climbing covers a wide range of climbing environments and styles, from hard valley bouldering, to long trad excursions and well-equipped technical sport routes, vast regions of Deep Water Soloing (DWS), and the author’s wryly described monster trad-route pursuit of ‘Chossaneering’. Route descriptions are carefully and logically presented and there are clear explanations of the condition of belay anchors, available trad protection, lower-offs, rap stations and descents. Despite the extreme heat of summer in the places described, it is still possible to find shady crags, rock pillars and sea cliffs that allow climbing all year round, though the months from November to March provide the most comfortable conditions, when temperatures hover around 20-25°C.

The author demonstrates an intimate knowledge of the region and its scattered and transient, but steadily growing, climbing community. Ancillary information, such as available campsites, required etiquette in this islamic region, rest day options and the reality of the risks posed by UAE climbing are clearly elaborated. What this book is not is a complete record of every vaguely recorded and remembered line in the UAE. The scope seeks to cover the major areas in sufficient detail and completeness to include the most worthwhile routes, focusing on areas showing the most promise for future development. It becomes clear after even a cursory flick through the guide that the quality and future potential of UAE rock climbing is substantial, particularly with reference to Deep Water Soloing (DWS) on the Musandam Peninsula, and the new profusion of well-equipped technical sport routes, that are reducing the spectre of gut-wrenching plummets due to marginal natural protection and friable limestone holds on some of the more traditional lines.

Much of the climbing described outside of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, and the small section around Al Ain, actually falls within the political borders of Oman. However, due to the complex nature of the deep limestone wadis of the Hajar Mountains and the wild and extensive Musandam Peninsula, these regions of Oman actually lie a long way from that country’s capital city, Muscat, and its climbing community, falling instead within day-trip and weekend driving distance of the UAE’s population centres: Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

The UAE Rock Climbing guide is required reading for anyone contemplating a trip to the UAE and central Oman. It is the most extensive, carefully-researched and up-to-date guidebook to the region. By any standards it is a high quality publication, and the fact that it is the author’s first  guidebook makes it all the more admirable an achievement. The overall impression is that the UAE and nearby mountains of Oman are already on the climbing map, and are likely to become even more recognised as world-class climbing destinations in the next few years. Highly recommended.


Contributed by Greg Caire. Greg is an Australian climber, photographer and outdoor writer currently visiting the UAE. He has been published extensively in the Aussie climbing press (Rock, Wild, etc) and has also authored Lonely Planet trekking guides to South America and Australia.


Greg on the classic League of Shadows, 6b+, Hatta


... and starting Office Clerk, 7a+, Tawiyan


habrich

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#1 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 18, 2010, 08:31:07 am
So this thread is a blatant plug for my book ahead of the winter season ...

Besides bullying Greg into writing a review, I also quizzed Dan Cieszynski, a strong Polish climber now living in London, who has just spent two months here on an IRATA job supervising the final construction of the steep side of this madness, what he thought of the climbing:

What was your expectation about the climbing here before you came?

I knew there were possibilities to climb, from  research on the internet and seeing the guidebook. I was coming here to work so I was hoping to do some climbing but didn’t expect to be climbing every weekend. I was worried whether I could find someone to climb with.

What do you think of the climbing now?

I think climbing in UAE is good and worth recommending. You can find here a lot of different types of climbing: bouldering, trad, sport, multi pitch and deep water soloing. And the UAE has more to offer then just climbing. The culture here is quite different from Europe which can be very interesting. I think it should be interesting for all sort of climbers ...

You have been looking for another job so you can stay in the UAE over the winter. Why?

The good weather for climbing, the very cool people I met here and the possibility to climb every weekend. In the UK weather is the big problem for climbers, you climb when the weather lets you, not when you want to. And there’s great potential for opening up new routes which I would like to do.

What are the best routes you have done here? Can you describe them?

Acquiescence (E4, 4 pitches, Shady Circus): Beautiful and perfectly located. A dry waterfall line - the polished stone makes it more difficult. It is very challenging and keeps you under pressure right to the end - which I liked.

Echo Beach (7c, Tawiyan): a great line going through  two overhangs,  and you have to pass two boulder problems with poor rest between. The moves are very hard and it was tough for me to link.

Jebel Jebel (6c, 2 pitches, Tawiyan): nice climbing on a very exposed ramp, you feel like you are climbing a big wall route!

Tradistan Incursion (E4): an overhanging finger crack which is very pumpy to a mantle move which is very scary - a perfect finish.



habrich

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#2 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 18, 2010, 08:40:18 am
And a few photos, mostly from the book:


The Flake, V1, The CubeMaz's Birthday, V2, Damian's Boulders
The Pyramid and the Barracuda Stack, MusandamBarracuda Arete, 5+ S0, Barracuda Stack
The Mud, the Blood and the Beer, 5+, HattaEcho Beach, 7c, Tawiyan
Tradistan Incursion, E4, NearsideCesta Nejmensiho Odporu, 6b S1, Limah RockExile, 7b, Wonderwall
« Last Edit: October 25, 2010, 08:17:30 am by thesiger »

Bobling

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#3 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 22, 2010, 08:04:28 pm
So that's why the camel...

habrich

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#4 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 23, 2010, 09:59:11 am
Ah yes ... which reminds me  ... a shocking omission from the photo gallery:


grumpycrumpy

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#5 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 25, 2010, 08:01:15 am
By 'eck I wish I'd had a copy of this book last year ...... On my one day off I ended up at the wall down near The Hilton ...... I had a car , my shoes and a full chalkbag ...... I'm now thinking of the fun I missed out  on ...... 

habrich

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#6 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 25, 2010, 08:16:23 am
In Dubai presumably? You're not the first person to say that. It is not obvious there's any rock in the region at first glance as around the city/ airport is nuttin' but sand.

 :google: is of course your friend in these situations ...

Bolter

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#7 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 25, 2010, 10:03:53 am
Looks good shit. I take I from the pics that there is some DWS action there? How much. I mean do I have to take one of those rope thingies or can I just go there with chalk and shoes?
BTW where does one get this book from?

slackline

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#8 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 25, 2010, 10:19:58 am

BTW where does one get this book from?

Try the link in thesiger's signature UAE guidebook blog then follow your nose from there.  ;)

habrich

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#9 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 25, 2010, 10:25:01 am
Looks good shit. I take I from the pics that there is some DWS action there? How much. I mean do I have to take one of those rope thingies or can I just go there with chalk and shoes?
There's about 100km of sea cliffs on the Indian Ocean coast. So there's almost unlimited DWS; we have hardly scratched the surface. The catch is that so far the areas we've explored have boat access. There's dhow and speedboat chartering available - basically there to serve scuba folk who dive at sites along the same coast. The book describes all that in some detail. There's also endless scope for bouldering so, no, you don't need a rope. The only issue with bouldering is that it is often not well-shaded, unlike the north-facing cliffs that can be in shade all day, so the bouldering season is quite short. ie mid-winter.
Quote
BTW where does one get this book from?
Cordee, Amazon, a few discerning shops (Outside in Hathersage had one or two last time I checked). Locally in GoSports stores in Dubai.

Grubes

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#10 Re: review: UAE Rock Climbing (2009)
October 25, 2010, 11:29:37 am
my copy has just arrived looks really good

Now just to convince my Boss I should work in dubai this winter.