Posts Tagged ‘sponsored heros’

stealth Musandam 2011 DWS film found!

Friday, January 3rd, 2014


 I was recently pointed to a nice 5 minute video of the 2011 British-sponsored-heroes visit to Musandam hosted by Oddly they seem to have uploaded it but never actually publicised it. Worth watching.

Link to video is here

The following routes are featured:

0:27 The Equaliser F7a+

0:43 Free Diving F6b+

0:57 One Liner F7a+

(1:54 the Red Armada editorial team chasing dolphins in a kayak)

2:32 Drop Zone F6c+

3:11 Partheon Slots F8a (incorrectly labelled as an unclimbed project – Read Macadam got the FA during this trip)

4:08 GenerationX F7b+

(5:14 the Red Armada itself, just visible parked at the dockside)


Musandam publicity ramps up

Friday, December 27th, 2013

 Screen shot 2013-12-26 at 13.14.39

In 28 years of climbing I’ve never seen rock formations as magical.

This month’s National Geographic carries Mark Synott’s article about the TNF/ NatGeo sponsored trip that he, Alex Honnold, Hazel Findlay and others made around the Musandam coast in October 2012. The website also has various supporting material including a nice DWS video. It is probably no coincidence that Alex and Hazel have also been talking about the trip for the first time in interviews. For example, in Hazel’s podcast interview at the excellent Enormocast.

I was slightly involved in the article. Mark gave my name as a source for fact-checking, which resulted in a quite lengthy email exchange with a NatGeo sub-editor in – oddly – Toronto! Mike Nott in the UAE also helped out. I was pleased to see Mark’s final article contained no mention of the team’s original claim to be the first to visit the area. However there was no mention of the active “local” climbing communities in the UAE and Oman; a shame in my opinion. Nor the beta on where to find the existing DWS routes (ie from this site!). Anyway, the stunning photos definitely justify the price of the magazine. Go buy it!

Elsewhere Gripped magazine in Canada has also just published an article about sport climbing near Muscat in its latest edition, focused especially on expat-Canuck Read Macadam’s new hard stuff at Hadash.

route descriptions from the TNF team

Monday, February 25th, 2013


the TNF team on a “Sand Castles” summit © Mark Synott, 2012

Around new year, Hazel Findlay kindly sent me descriptions for routes done during the North Face team’s visit last year. More recently Mark Synnott sent me some photos that complement her work. I have combined the material in a document linked here. Mark’s National Geographic article about their trip should appear in August.

Hazel also mentioned her visit briefly in a blog post … describing the area as “one of the world’s most beautiful places”. Though the team originally set out to do new long trad routes, they ended up visiting several of the previously-documented DWS areas. In a separate email Hazel commented to me specifically on the DWS that “the established routes we did or tried – we thought were really good, super classic” but that “I think the best sort of trips to this area, are more exploratory, for people who want to see the coastline, do a bit of climbing, snorkel, climb chossy ridge lines etc. I don’t think it will be the next Mallorca or Vietnam.” Neil Gresham offered a similar conclusion in his article in the UK press in 2011.


Hazel Findlay and Alex Honnold on their Lions Mouth first ascent © Mark Synott, 2012

PS hopefully I don’t have to tell anyone that the copyright symbols here have real meaning. These images are the property of Mark Synott and should not appear elsewhere without his permission.

TNF celebrity team visiting Musandam

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Jimmy Chin on the TNF yacht © Mikey Schaefer, 2012

Based on various small nuggets of information on the web, it seems a team of The North Face sponsored athletes, photographers and film-makers (Alex Honnold, Hazel Findlay, Renan Ozturk, Jimmy Chin, others) is visiting the Musandam coast for two weeks in a 40′ trimaran. Not much is known about their specific intentions, but as both Alex and Hazel are more associated with serious trad’ing (and soloing in Alex’s case) rather than ephemeral fun (!) like DWS, perhaps we will hear reports of long route ascents in due course. Certainly this event is likely to raise awareness of Musandam climbing.

The team didn’t research their visit directly with any local sources as far as I can tell. They are also talking on the web inaccurately about the “unexplored” coastline. Hopefully that’s PR spin and they have bothered with a google search before setting sail. There are precedents for being concerned about this: a few years ago a Black Diamond team visited the Jebel Misht area then sprayed about a big first ascent once back in the USA – but in fact they had just (unknowingly) repeated an existing route.

Anyway, I am sure all “local” climbers wish them well. Alex and Hazel are both at the top of their game right now and presumably have many options as where to travel – so it’s an honour they are in the region.

EDIT: I have had some direct contact with the TNF team. They say they did know they weren’t the first climbers in the area, so my comment above isn’t really fair. I suspect any shortfall in their research before coming may have been caused by the classic Oman/ UAE semantic confusion. Musandam is of course in Oman but has been developed by UAE climbers. A future guidebook should be titled “UAE and Musandam rock climbing” to make that clear.


Tawiyan PDF update and a new open project

Wednesday, 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

9a Mike

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

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.

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.