9a Mike

A very strong french climber, Michael Fuselier, visited the UAE for a few days last week, hosted by a Dubai rope access gear distributor. As I understand it from various sources, he spent a couple of half days outside, which proceeded as follows: a drive up Wadi Shahah, but no climbing as there was “no potential over 6a”; a visit to Taiwiyan, where – in a time-honoured display of gallic superiority – he warmed up on Office Clerk in trainers then made an onsight ascent (the first, AFAIK) of Echo Beach, stopping at the crux to spark up a Gitane (*), then downgraded it to F6c. Splendid stuff.

Less splendidly, he then jumped on my unclimbed but bolted project there (the Caracal Tree extension). I’d specifically requested to three separate people who were there that the project’s “closed” status be honoured, so was not initially delighted to hear about this. However I have learnt that he just checked it out bolt-to-bolt rather than made a clean lead. After some prodding on Facebook, he also gave me a detailed opinion on the possible grade, for which I am grateful.

Observing the original equipper’s rights over a project is a much-debated topic around the climbing world, but the consensus is pretty clear: they are closed unless the equipper decides otherwise or the passage of time has become absurd. In this region that principle has been observed scrupulously over the time I have been here. For example, the cool-looking “Gutter” project on Wonderwall’s Central Wall has remained closed for 4-5 years. I have no intention of insisting on that for the CTE but one more inviolate season would be nice. Non-bolters may wonder what all the fuss is about. Rather than bang on with my opinion I’ll just highlight that Rock and Ice’s Jeff Jackson says it better here than I could. Worth a read.

One other note: overall the entertainment of Monsieur Fuselier could have been much better handled if his (non-climber) host had consulted more widely. At the moment, there is little in the UAE guidebook area to interest anyone operating at that standard. In fact, there may never be, as the rock rarely seems to erode into the sort of long/ steep/ clean features that lend themselves to F8 routes or above. For future reference, I do know of one interesting project that a cutting-edge climber could be pointed at, but someone would need to spend some significant time cleaning and bolting it first. Otherwise I’d say bouldering or DWSing could be more fruitful. For example, a repeat of Partheon Slots could have generated lots of spectacular photos for Mike to take home to his sponsors.

* actually I made that part up, but it would it be nice to think it were true.

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2 Responses to “9a Mike”

  1. Mike says:

    Jeff Jackson does indeed put it well. But, even if we don’t go with the ‘work of art’ analogy, simple respect for the expressed desire for it to be left alone, one would hope, should be sufficient.

  2. admin says:

    I think it’s inevitably a gray area. Some counter-arguments: “no-one owns the rock”, “you’ll never get good enough to do the route”, etc. It is also hard to say what a reasonable amount of exclusivity time should be.

    I like Jeff’s article because it specifically address the creative process (or illusion of creativity, anyway) that goes with first ascents.