Posts Tagged ‘bouldering’

new topos

Wednesday, 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:

Beyond RAK
- Aiden’s Snakecharmer, the huge Ghalilah face of Jebel Ras Al Qays

RAK Inland
- a 3D (yes: 3D!) update to the Cube boulder
- the Little Princess on Red Wall mentioned yesterday

Dibba Inland
- the Blindspot crag

Al Ain
- Paul’s (no longer) Secret Boulders. Be discreet at this one.

2009/2010 season wrap

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Some notes on what has been happening since the guidebook was published:


Oddly neglected!


At Shady Circus Greg Caire and I made the first ascent of the four pitch Acquiescence in early December, just days after the guide went to print. Andy La Bonte and Nasim Eshghi then repeated the route in February, confirming the overall E4 grade and technical grades. However Andy did think that an E2 leader, also able to do F7a sport, could try the route as the cruxes are not runout. Aiden Laffey has been chossaneering elsewhere on Jebel Ras Al Qays with a view to pushing a route all the way to the top of the 1000m face … would be impressive if ever complete.

Outside Ghalilah, some new routes have gone up at Grayskull but the area seems to still be regarded as too sensitive to be publicised. Nearby some short routes were done at Clint Eastwood Crag.


John Gregory and fellow tradistanis continue to develop the Nearside/ Junction area. There are about ten more routes additional to those in the interim guide. I hope to get these written up by the end of the summer.

Further down Wadi Shahah, Dave Watson climbed several more problems on the Cube including the obvious sharp line right of Mike’s Problem, probably V5ish, and the fun arete right again at about V2.

Yellow House has seen some traffic. Al Zawir, Ruby in the Dust and Captain Flamingo are all considered worth two stars. The latter now has bolt anchors.

At Roadside,  Steve Worth soloed the Clog Dancer project at sounds-likes-a-sandbag E2, calling it Oates So Easy. Round the corner Andy’s Project is still unclimbed and now open to all to try. Pokemon has now had five ascents (me, Read Macadam, Andy, Juliette Danion and Gordon Rech) with opinions on the grade ranging from F7a+ to F7b+.

The long Hila routes get some traffic. Over the Hill is regarded as worth a star or two.

Further south in Wadi Naqab – which will one day deserve its own guidebook section – is Andy and Pete Thompson’s uber-project, the Vertical Vice; as yet unrepeated. I am awarding this the inaugural Red Armada Publishing Ascent of the Season (… there might even be an actual prize when I get paid for the book by the distributor, which will be when they get paid by GoSports, etc). There’s plenty of other potential in Naqab and the wadi road has been extended recently.


Also neglected. There have been some worrying reports of the Omani border post refusing entry to the wadi from the east side, except to GCC passport holders. Seems to be a sporadic phenomenon and possibly negotiable. Above the pass between Wadi Bih and Wadi Khab Shamis, Aiden has found a high-altitude summer bouldering venue: The Hole in the Sky – great name!


At Tawiyan, Arash Alam repeated both Echo Beach F7c and Fujairah Spaceport F7a+, confirming the grades. Strangely the route on the book’s cover, Jebel Jebel F6b+ (or perhaps E3), has still only had one clean ascent. Of the projects mentioned in the book; the Columbian Slapper remains virgin, Office Clerk has been bolted and should have been led by the end of the summer and the aptly-named Your Face is a Mess has had hangers removed. The Stone Pussy anchors have been improved. Roadwork above the cliff seems to be finished for now and access is now very quick.

The Colosseum remains ignored, probably because of the long approach walk.


Damian’s Boulders have become wildly popular, not only with real climbers. Dave reported finding a large school group camped there. Hopefully access won’t be compromised – there is a village nearby. Dave has been working through the harder problems, notably making the probable second ascent of Days Don’t get Better V7, which he confirmed as hard and brilliant. Around the corner, Gordon and the other Dubai crew have started developing The Strip Club, a new sport crag.

The giant Nant Bidey also remains untouched.


Also popular though most groups don’t get beyond the Conga Line area. As blogged recently, I got the first ascent of the properly-scary Limah Roof project at Limah Rock, with help from Mike Olver, who had eccentrically kayaked over there (40km!) to clean it the evening before.


Jerry Spring continues to add routes at Hatta, mostly in the Fridge area and the complex territory left of Tadaima. Detail has been posted on the forum. Tadaima has had at least two repeats, by Juliette and Arash, and is confirmed at F7b.


The main event in the Al Ain area has been the ongoing development of the awesome Shark Fin, sadly accompanied by accidents: of which by far the worst a serious head injury caused by lowering off a 30m route on a 50m rope. Be careful. The three big routes there, all Gordon’s creations – Trencherman, Lactic Labyrinthe and Second Life – have all had multiple ascents though with some dissent on the grades. All are in the F7a to F7a+ range. Lactic Labyrinthe has seen the most failures so is probably the hardest. There’s is much more to be done at Shark Fin so no guide yet. Elsewhere I am not writing much about Good Morning Helena crag as I have still never been there, still not sure where it is and a spy assures me it is a bit crap. However Gordon says his F6c there is good. Will add it to any eventual Shark Fin guide.

Wonderwall has been host to a lot of partying/ camping but little new climbing. Gordon has been making valiant attempts to get the third ascent of Exile and bolted some easy routes on the new Bunny wall. Ninja Smartypants remains unrepeated AFAIK, despite some attempts, and may be hard for F7b.

On the UAE side of the border I have peered hopefully at the extensive chossy cliffs on the east side of Jebel Hafeet and even bolted some minor things at White Wadi. Again see the forum for detail.


Astonishingly Crag on 34th Street has still only had one visit. Abu Dhabi municipality are building a bridge over there to encourage more interest (at least, I assume that’s the reason …).

Please let me know if there is anything important I have missed.

Feedback on the book #1

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I mentioned Damian Cook in an earlier post. I received an email from his wife, Eszter, a few weeks ago. I hope she doesn’t mind me reproducing some of it here (and I hope anyone reading this doesn’t find it too mawkish or sentimental):

“I received the UAE guide three weeks ago but it actually means so much to me that I could not gather myself to write a thank you e-mail to you. But here I am now and I would like to say thank you for putting Damian’s boulders in your book and I would also like to say thank you for mentioning him in such a nice way and putting the picture in the book. It was the best Xmas present ever and it meant a lot for the whole family. Thank you for sending it to us! …

My daughter, Rebeka was very moved by the book as well, there are some routes named after her, Damian used to call her a ‘Fluff Top’ for example. The picture made her jump up and down, she is very proud of herself that she is in a book. They still can bond after so many years …

Damian would be so pleased about this book. He spent so much time at his boulders climbing, taking pictures of the rocks, creating topos of the area by his computer. It was always on his mind. He said that the quality of the rock was as good there (he meant the boulders) as in Fontainebleau and he wished that more people had known about the place and enjoyed climbing there. I can recall seeing the back of his head for hours while he was deciding about tiny details on his topos by his computer and I clearly remember when we were at the boulders the last time together. He had a distant look on his face and said that maybe nobody would ever climb on those rocks again.”

Whether he had this sort of crew in mind is another matter …




Thanks to Nasim for the photos

The late great Damian Cook

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

I have nothing much to do at the moment – the book should be printed tomorrow and Saturday – so I thought I would upload some animated GIFs of Damian Cook bouldering that I have had for a while. I couldn’t use them in the book as they are too low-res. They were originally in a draft online guide that Damian put together but never published.

As many people will know, Damian drowned in Mallorca in 2004. He was based in Abu Dhabi from 1998-2002 and was essentially the first person (with his brother Dominic) to bolt sport routes in the region. After Dominic left, he developed the boulders in Wadi Khab Shamis almost entirely by himself. Before he was in the UAE, Damian and his brothers were amongst the first DWS pioneers, on the Dorset coast of England. Their “Into the Blue” guide from 1996 remains a cult classic in the UK.

Days Don’t Get Better (V7?)

Damo’s Traverse (V7?)

I don’t think either of these problems have had proper repeats. Both look very good.

February 2010 UPDATE: since I wrote this a few people have done Damo’s Traverse and consider it a bit of a path! My impression is that this may be due to a higher level of gravel in the base than before … I think Damian started further left.