June 19th, 2012
The Red Armada publishing empire has just one month left before relocating to Canada (via a few weeks in Blighty). It’s a surprisingly busy period, not just negotiating the minefield that is UAE exit formalities, but also finishing up on some projects: a big final article for Outdoor UAE, some bolting, a possible topo for a RAK cliff.
Meanwhile I have also just committed (well, maybe, I’ll see how it goes …) to a new blog about my new life in Squamish, ripe I hope with climbing grade breakthroughs and pithy insight into the town’s evolution.
June 9th, 2012
UAE climbing is all on limestone, right? Yes, at the moment, but it is a little known fact that there are exposures of good quality red sandstone in Abu Dhabi’s western region. Unfortunately it may be that none of it is substantial enough to climb, even for bouldering. Here are images of some outcrops studied yesterday. The cliff height goes up to about 5-6m but the solid strata is only about 2-3m. If anyone is interested in the location, which is very beautiful and unique, I am not telling. Figure it out yourself!
Thanks to Emily for her help with this eccentric mission.
June 6th, 2012
Just uploaded a topo for the Read Stack, a DWS sector just past Gen’s Cave. It is a companion to the Shark Bay topo uploaded a couple of days ago. The available topos for DWSing now comprise: the chapter in the 2009 guidebook, the major DWS update from 2011 and these two new topos. Enjoy!
The Read Stack (left of centre) © Theo Giani
June 6th, 2012
I am using the free time I have right now to tidy up a few things in the guidebook coverage. Just uploaded is an update PDF for the popular right side of Tawiyan, since the guidebook was published.
Also an announcement: I am abandoning my rights to the Caracal Tree Extension project. It should now be regarded as an OPEN PROJECT. But if anyone does it, please tell me!
Toby on the lower 7a+ section of Caracal Tree in 2011
June 4th, 2012
I made a low-quality scan of this vintage article by Damian Cook from On the Edge magazine (1999? 2000?) a few years ago. I have finally got around to turning it into a PDF and uploading it.
Worth reading: “Carrots and Magic in the UAE“.
A few cultural notes:
- “Crispin” refers to Crispin Waddy, a legendary British trad climber and DWS pioneer, also from Dorset like the Cook brothers.
- “XS” is a no-longer-used British climbing grade.
- “Wurzel Gummidge” was a living scarecrow in a British children’s TV show from the 1970s.
June 4th, 2012
I have just put together a topo for Shark Bay, a DWS area quite close to Dibba. It was actually the location of the first ever DWS route (*) on that coast in 2006, but until now I had forgotten the location. A good range of routes from F4+ to F6b+. There are also several unclimbed projects.
A few photos:
Dave Watson on Insouciance F6b+ © Vanessa Becker
Mohammed the boatman contemplating the jump from Mohammed’s Route F4+ © Theo Giani
Emily Manuel on Whitewash F6a
A similar topo is in production for the Read Stack, further up the coast.
* EDIT: Alan Stark reminded me that the Cook brothers did some DWS in 1999/ 2000 ish near Dibba. From Damian’s article, which I will upload shortly, it sounds like they looked at the coast from a “serious rip-off” boat, but didn’t climb, but did traverse a bit along the coast from Zighy Bay.
May 22nd, 2012
Theo kindly contributed this update for Abu Dhabi emirates’ only substantial sport climbing area. I am quite amused by the TLA names.
May 15th, 2012
Aiden has sent me this description for his late December 2011 route “The Gambler” in Wadi Ghalilah.
In case anyone is wondering, this is what I know to be missing from the topo archive (and not in the guidebook) at the moment:
- John Gregory’s routes at Transition in Wadi Shahah
- various new crags and routes (trad and sport) of Ralph Heath’s around the RAK area
- some bouldering areas developed by instructors at Al Shaheen in RAK
- no doubt some routes by the same guys around RAK as well
- Good Morning Helena crag in the Buraimi area
- some routes of Theo Giani’s at NPZ near Al Ain
- some routes of mine at Tawiyan
- a few DWS routes done since the update last summer
- about twenty routes in a secret location near Dibba
- Strip Club near Wadi Hilti
April 23rd, 2012
April in the UAE means deep water solo season. The water is still refreshingly cool but not so cold that a frigophobe like me can’t stay immersed for a while. The sun is still low enough in the sky for long enough to dry out the caves and overhangs. The jellyfish of winter are gone, and with luck: the choppy seas too. The best conditions seem to last until the start of June. Further into the summer and the rock is either in the sun and too hot to touch, or in the shade and too humid. So now is the time. For me a good DWS session – last Saturday, for example – leaves such an excess of psyche that I can barely keep still at work and find myself crimping the edge of a keyboard or undercutting my desk.
|Middle-aged desk jockey sketches up Generation-X F7b+, Gen’s Cave
One background worry though: how dangerous is this game? So far in the six year history of DWS’ing out of Dibba there have been numerous minor injuries but none serious. Two types dominate: muscle tweaks and bruises from poorly executed jumps or awkward falls, or cuts from contact with barnacles or sharp rock near the water line. Both risks can be minimised with care. Learn to jump from someone with good technique (not me! though my older son isn’t bad), or at least study the photo of Jiri on page 127 of the guide book. Don’t try to climb on to the rock direct out of the sea, especially in choppy conditions when a limb can be loaded unexpectedly. (Some experiments have been conducted with rope ladders anchored to the cliff with skyhooks, for water exits, but the jury is still out.)
What hasn’t happened so far though, as far as I know, is an accident stepping from a boat on to the cliff. An obvious worst-case scenario could be something like this: 1. climber steps from the boat on to a low foothold, 2. unexpected swell pushes the boat abruptly forward and/or the climber slips, 3. the climber’s foot or ankle is caught between the boat and the rock. I don’t think it is possible to reduce this risk to zero but there are some obvious commonsense precautions. Padding the front of the boat with a bouldering mat makes it easier for the climber to jump off if the exit is going badly. And an attentive “spotter” at the front of the boat can help support the climber’s body out of harm’s way. The climber should always aim to step high … materially higher than the boat. Maybe I am being alarmist. But do take care.
PS Thanks to Alan Christmas for the photo.
April 4th, 2012
I have just uploaded five new topos to the new route page. Here is a list of the new stuff with direct links:
- Aiden’s Snakecharmer, the huge Ghalilah face of Jebel Ras Al Qays
- a 3D (yes: 3D!) update to the Cube boulder
- the Little Princess on Red Wall mentioned yesterday
- the Blindspot crag
- Paul’s (no longer) Secret Boulders. Be discreet at this one.