Posts Tagged ‘dws’

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.

Limah Roof

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

I documented the Limah Roof in the guidebook with the words “The compelling stacked overhangs will probably have been climbed by the time this book is printed” – which has proved premature. I made the first ascent yesterday – more than two and half years after the line was first spotted and six months after the guide hit the shelves!

The route followed is slightly right of the line marked in the guide, but feels correct when you are on it. It starts easily up to the small pedestal ledge in the corner right of the overhanging face then steps left to follow a pumpy sequence of good horizontal rails, jams and pockets to the lip. The final move is an easy but intimidating rock over, with a 13m backflip into the sea as a possible consequence for failure. The grade is probably no more than F6c but definitely S1 for the height above the water.

There’s another harder line waiting to be climbed just right of the left arete of the steep face.

Thanks to Gordon and Hamad for organising the boat and Mike for cleaning the route ahead of my ascent.

DWS in Muscat and Musandam compared

Monday, April 5th, 2010

I was lucky to snatch a few hours DWSing in Bandar Jissah, just east of Muscat last week. A couple of people who have climbed both there and on the Musandam coast (“Dibba Coast” in the guide book) have told me that the Bandar Jissah area is more worthwhile. Now that I can make the comparison I thought I’d comment.

Roof area, Bandar Jissah

The short answer is that I think they are mostly right! The Bandar Jissah area is much less hassle, as the routes are all within a few minutes boat ride from the beach, and can even be accessed by kayak at high tide. The complex topography of small islands and peninsulas also concentrates a lot of different climbable facets in a compact area. And the best routes are very good.

Arete area, Bandar Jissah

The main negative is that the rock is not fantastic. There is a lot of salt and sand in the limestone, making holds variously a little fragile and dusty in places. The best of the rock on the Dibba Coast routes is better.

Barracuda Stack and The Pyramid, Musandam

Another obvious difference is that the Musandam coast is much wilder, especially at the locations distant from Dibba. The area around Barracuda Stack, for example, has some of the most dramatic seacliff scenery I have seen anywhere on earth (see photo above). But it is an effort to get there! Finally (caveat: I am no expert) a quick spot of snorkelling at Bandar Jissah also suggested that the sea floor there is far less pristine than in Musandam, with some rather sad dying coral. This probably reflects the rapid recent development there. The Shangri-La complex (three hotels) occupies one whole bay and there is apparently a new hotel going in at Bandar Jissah public beach itself.

The Bandar Jissah DWS is described in an online guide at and was also profiled in Climbing magazine. From Abu Dhabi or Dubai it is about five hours driving plus the unpredictable border delays to get there. A fair bit further than Dibba but factor in less time stuck on a boat on the way to the cliffs and the calculation is not so one-sided.

Persian Gypsy (a new route added that day), Bandar Jissah

All that said, making clinical comparisons and evaluations is quite contrary to the anarchic spirit of deep water soloing. I had not DWSed for about nine months and had forgotten just how viscerally-intense an experience it can be. Chasing specific grades can seem unimportant and success (on anything) can be as much about managing the jittery adrenaline highs as overcoming physical constraints; especially once a few of the 10-15m jumps necessary to descend have been completed. I don’t know anything else that delivers such a pure dose of elation.