Posts Tagged ‘new routes’

One new topo

Tuesday, 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

new Wadi Nakhab route

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

In a bid to unite the squabbling climbing tribes of camel-land (*), Andy La Bonte and Aiden Laffey have produced another route on the Red Wall in Wadi Nakhab with something for everyone: a ground-up first ascent style, hard bolted sport, trad cracks, short pitches and long pitches, summit register, even a contribution from the legendary John Gregory. Due to the uncompromising FA style, the route took several months to complete (imagine bolting F7b on lead …)

The topo for Little Princess 140m E3 and F7b is here. The route is left of and parallel to Andy and Pete Thompson’s 2010 route Vertical Vice.

A few photos thanks to Andrew Stelmach

The team

The sport bit (which ominously mentions reach – Andy is about 3 metre tall)

Aiden jamming

* actually this probably wasn’t their motivation …

2010/2011 season wrap

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Shockingly a whole year has passed since I wrote the 2009/2010 report. But as I brought things up to date in January, there’s not a huge amount to add. As last year, in chapter order:


Still neglected AFAIK.


Pete Thompson went back to his Stairway Headwall route with Pete Myers in February and made a one-day ascent. The route is now called Black Dog.


John Gregory has been cleaning and climbing new routes at Transition, another area in Wadi Shahah. No details available yet. Apparently Ralph Heath and friends have also been developing routes elsewhere in Wadi Shahah. No details available.


Very neglected. More reports of people failing to gain access even using the Dibba approach.


Lots of action at Tawiyan, both new routes and repeats, all noted in a February blog post.


Gordon Rech and friends have added more new stuff at The Narrows and also have a secret hard project on the go elsewhere in Wadi Khab Shamis. Matt Pfeifer completed the excellent slopey steep project at the Strip Club at about F7b, after quite a lot of effort. No name forthcoming so far. I made the second ascent in April.


The main excitement was the strong Brit/ Canuck team visiting in April, about which I have already written extensively and added an update guide. A few new routes have been added since their visit, notably at The Salt Mine, by Matt Pfeifer, Jose Molina and I.


At Hatta I climbed the trad crack project near Open Wide and Say Ahh in February.

Theo Giani has been bolting new stuff at NPZ. No details yet.

The Red Armada Publishing Ascent of the Season should probably go to Read Macadam for his first ascent of Parthian Slots F8a on the Dibba Coast, especially given the sponsored-heros snapping at his heels. But Matt Pfeifer deserves an honourable mention for his rapid progress through the grades within 18 months of starting to climb: two F7b+ redpoints and an F7b new route. Similarly Maddy Stocks has reached F6c within less than a year.

If anyone knows of anything significant I have missed, please let me know.

the DWS update

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Finally! This eleven page update to the book’s Dibba Coast chapter contains more than eighty new DWS routes … some probably the best you’ll do in the region of any climbing style (a recommendations list is included). The link can also be found at the updates page. It’s around 12Mb, so be patient if your internet connection is slow.

DWS visitors add over 60 new routes

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

A team of five climbers from the UK – Neil Gresham, Grant Farquhar, Seb Grieve, Mike Robertson (author of Deep Water), Tim Emmett – spent six days in a dhow on the Musandam coast in April exploring the DWS possibilities, along with Read Macadam and I. All have been involved with the early development of major DWS areas in other countries, notably the world-class routes at Cova del Diablo in Mallorca and Halong Bay in Vietnam, and were looking for similar potential here. The trip was very fruitful with over 60 new routes recorded from F4 to F8a. I will put out a detailed PDF update for the coast as soon as I can, but for now here are some highlights:

- the whole Indian Ocean coast of Musandam explored all the way north of Dibba to the Straits of Hormuz.

- a major new area, Big Wall Bay, a few km south of the Barracuda Stack, developed with 24 routes including the world-classic (in their opinion) Partheon Slots, F8a – sent by Read.

Read attempting Partheon Slots F8a, Big Wall Bay
Tim on Dreaming of Trevallen F6c, Big Wall Bay

- a total overhaul of the Gen’s Cave area including several long (15-18m) vertical routes at Gogarth East, a zone of very solid white rock right of the cave, re-ascents of Read’s unrecorded routes from 2006 plus the first ascent of the amazing direct route through the cave at F7b+ by Neil.

Neil scoping Gen’s Cave Roof Direct F7b+ before the first ascent

- a similar overhaul of the Limah Roof area with 7 new routes and a new area, The Badger Set, developed on the mainland nearby.

The team also swam with dolphins and sharks, caught barracuda on a handline, night-kayaked in phosphorescence and consumed their full booze allowance from DXB arrivals’ duty-free. Tim also set a new personal best at free-diving (28m). 

Tim chasing dolphins in Musandam

There should be a magazine article from Mike and probably some video from the trip appearing on sponsor sites.

Tawiyan update

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Tawiyan has been popular over the last few months. All the routes have seen some attention, especially on the Azimuth Wall. At the same time I have been tidying up some bolting and working on some new lines.

The rebolting is as follows:

Stone Pussy – first two bolts moved on to the normal line (previously too far right)

Echo Beach – bolt on the crux roof moved higher (makes for a more flowing redpoint, the next bolt is now only needed for working the route). The route has been redpointed by at least six people now and is currently well chalked and tickmarked. Perhaps only worth F7b+?

Burnt to a Crisp – new bolt just below the anchors (to prevent any repetitions of Solomon’s near-groundfall). A new sequence for the crux has also been found; some people now think that the grade is more like F6c.

Bloody as Hell – moved first bolt higher (safer) and placed new chain anchor (old chain was crap and in a bad position). In contrast to its neighbour this route doesn’t get redpointed often and seems to be holding on to F7a.

Another grade opinion is that Fujairah Spaceport may be easier than F7a+ but everyone who has done it has enthused about its quality. Frankly I think people deserve the grade for making the effort to go up there!

Matt Pfeifer flashing Fujairah Spaceport

Back down in the wadi basin, Office Clerk seems to be holding on to F7a+. Because of its centre-stage location it is probably the most attempted route at the grade in the region.

And the new stuff (click for larger images):

Tawiyan Feb 2011

1. Caracal Branch F7a+ 22m Start just left of Stone Pussy at twin bolt anchors, move up the easy groove for a few metres then shuffle right to the hand crack and follow it to where it ends in the corner under the flat roof. Cross this to a large flake then move rightwards with big dynamic moves for 7m to an obvious hole (and reasonable rest). Exit up and right on positive but spaced holds in a wild position. Chain anchor. Possibly F7b.
Toby Foord-Kelcey, 6 February 2011

2. The Caracal Tree F7b 25m Follow the Branch to the rest at the hole. Leave the hole with a tenuous move left then climb more easily up to the big hollow flake. A couple of strenuous pulls above this reach better holds and twin ring anchors where the rock turns blank. Possibly F7b+.
Toby Foord-Kelcey, 24 February 2011

3. The Caracal Tree Extension F-hard 32m Follow the Tree to its anchors, then somehow improvise a move past the blank section and continue up the spectacularly-positioned arete above to a chain anchor just under the Jebel Jebel traverse ramp. Take care lowering off.
a work in progress

4. Más Sangrienta F6b 10m Scoop and shallow groove right of Bloody as Hell to that route’s new chain anchor.
Toby Foord-Kelcey, 29 January 2011

The “Caracal Tree” refers to a macabre discovery Scott Barber and I made during the early days of new-routing at Tawiyan. About one kilometer from the cliff, in the gravel flats near a quarry entrance, was a tree with desiccated animal corpses hanging in it.

At the time we thought they might be foxes but a few months later a photo of the same tree appeared in The National newspaper, accompanied by an interview with the conservationist who had made the discovery, explaining that they were caracals and that they’d been trapped then hung there by local goat herders. (Though not very large, the cats are fast and agile enough to kill goats.) Unsurprisingly the corpses swiftly vanished after the article appeared.

Hatta update

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

I have been climbing at Hatta a few times recently. The cliff doesn’t seem to be as fashionable as it used to be, maybe because the core Dubai crew have done most of the routes. Still there were 5-10 cars there on each occasion I have been, and I even caught a glimpse of legendary Everest-and-the-poles-man Adrian (presumably mainly there for the grim approach hike?). It is still the best place to go for grade 5 and 6 sport routes.

A few years ago Gordon Rech and Tom Kendall cleaned and top-roped a steep corner in the Eastern Buttress area but didn’t bolt it as it contains a continuous finger-width crack in its back that sucks up trad gear (very unusual for Hatta). They also never got around to leading it. After getting permission (thanks Gordon …), I led it last weekend after a failure the week before:

The Aberration 15m E3 The obvious line in the bay left of Open Wide and Say Ahh (p145 of the guidebook). The climbing is pumpy as the top half of the corner overhangs in two dimensions, but there are good fingerlocks and some spots to bridge. The crux is a quite wild and committing pull from the top of the corner rightwards to hidden holds around the arete, after which the climbing is easy. There are bolt anchors above. Take wires and a rack of cams to hand-width, with duplicates in finger-width sizes (blue and yellow Metolius, or green and yellow Alien, or whatever that now equates to with BD or Wild Country cams).

It may be soft for E3 – I am not sure as I only do trad routes sporadically. For what it’s worth, my belayer on the successful ascent declined the opportunity to second the route despite being happy enough on grade 6 sport routes.

Elsewhere at Hatta, as I have mentioned before, there are at least five bolted routes that aren’t in the guidebook courtesy of Jerry Spring but no-one has details at the moment (please Jerry …).

Of more importance than any of this for the long-term, the hillside behind the cliff is under inexorable assault by the quarriers. It looks like the cliff will be consumed in due course, starting from the eastern end. At the current pace, could be impacting actual routes within three years?

2010/2011 mid-season update

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

I thought it might be worth updating on some of what’s been going on in the winter season so far. It’s mostly from RAK, as the sport climbing tribe have been (admirably) focused on repeating routes recently.


In Wadi Shahah, the Gregory quarrying/ climbing machine continues to operate productively. A new cliff, Farside, has been opened opposite Nearside, with several routes. Descriptions here. Andy LaBonte has climbed a hard new partially-bolted route (Crack Rock Steady, F7b + E3 at the start) at Nearside. I have no other details but I am fairly sure it is just right of Tim’s Tipple.

Elsewhere in the wadi I also have update details for Yellow House, including new star ratings and descent details and one new route. Apparently consensus is that the rock quality is unusually good. The Far Right area at Dickinadozer is now known as the Zombie Skull sector. Some additional anchors and tidying-up has taken place – I am not sure of the precise details.


In Wadi Ghalilah, adherents of the noble art of chossaneering have been busy. Ben Ranson (*) has climbed the giant 1000m (!) Ghalilah Headwall right of Stairway to Heaven in two stages.  The topo is here. As mentioned late last year, Aiden Laffey added Wadi Roulette near the Shady Circus area. More recently he and Andy LaBonte repeated the 600m Barun Wall route (original description here), probably by a slightly different line to the original ascent. Looks bold, committing and – no surprise – loose.


Mid-summer 2010 Gordon Rech and friends started work on a new sector, The Narrows, a long way up Wadi Khab Shamis. There are four sport routes from F5 to F6b so far.


As previously noted, Aiden and I climbed The Pyramid.


There’s also some new stuff at Hatta Crag. Sadly I don’t have details at the moment, though I know they include a F7a eliminate through Spiderpig, another F7a on the back side of the same buttress and two lines left of Tadaima.


Solomon Lau passed me details of two new problems at Wonderwall. In other news, Gordon Rech made the probable second ascent of Ninja Smartypants on the Monkey Bars block.

If anyone knows of anything else, please let me know.

* whoops,  I mean Peter Thompson ;-)

more chossaneering madness!

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Aiden Laffey has just got in touch with a new seven pitch route in Wadi Ghalilah, including a full-blown aid pitch. In a similar vein, he and Andy LaBonte recently tried the (probably never repeated) Shady Circus route, Exit Surprise, and found the fourth pitch traverse much harder than expected, taking a fall onto old pitons. It seems possible that pitch was originally aided and not climbed free as reported? Beware …

The Pyramid

Monday, November 15th, 2010

The Pyramid is a large (300m?) semi-sea-stack above the Barracuda Stack, mentioned as a project in the Dibba Coast section of the UAE guidebook. 

Aiden Laffey and I made the first ascent on 12 November, approaching in Aiden’s yacht from Fujairah marina. Mike Olver supported us: helpfully staying awake through the night on the outbound leg and watching out for trouble whilst we climbed. The route is pretty easy (VS’ish) but quite serious with patches of very loose rock. The views from the top are amazing.

The Pyramid from the south
The Pyramid from the north
Looking down at the Barracuda Stack
Aiden following the last pitch
view south from the summit

For anyone interested in a repeat there’s a route description here. It would probably be possible to do the climb in a day using a fast boat out of Dibba.