Posts Tagged ‘UAE’

understated trad grades

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Simon Cahill sent me this note on a multi-pitch route at Sentinel:

Just had a great couple of days out with Maddie, day 1 climbed a route on the sentinel, can’t remember the name something like Kasarkstan [actually: Kharzang] and is route number 1 in your book. The grade given is v-diff. It’s a great climb but at v-diff is way off and potentially dangerous as a good severe leader would have an epic. I think it’s pretty solid VS with a lot of 4b climbing and I had to work the crux several times to get it so I think probably 4c ….I talked to Ralph about it this morning and he thought it was an HVS horror, not that bad but not V-diff. I think any update of the guidebook should include a serious regrade.

The descriptions and grades for trad routes were in most cases taken verbatim from Alan Stark’s PDF guide (I bought the copyright from Alan). Those descriptions were in turn mostly taken direct from first ascentionist’s accounts. Many routes have only had one ascent. John Gregory did review the text to some extent before publication, but it is reasonably likely that there are some other errors in there. However, thankfully this is the first error of this magnitude (2 -3 Brit trad grades difference) that has been identified. Be careful out there! Generally, in my opinion, as spelled out in the introduction to the guidebook, UAE trad should be approached with caution, especially on first acquaintance.

policy on topo uploads

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

I have temporarily deleted links to a large proportion of the topos and additional route information I have been collecting for the last four years. I am currently reviewing various options for updating the guidebook, as its 5th anniversary approaches. Most likely I will restore many of the links soon. Meanwhile, message me through the contact page if you are looking for something specific.

EDIT: January 2016- most of the topos are now available again. Click here.

some updates

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012


3Somes is the area midway up the gully left of centre. Viewed from the Wadi Shahah road.

Ralph Heath has uploaded details of some of the new crags he has developed in RAK over the last few years to SummitPost. A mix of trad and sport.


Zombie Skull


Birthday Crag

I repeated some of the 3Somes routes about a year ago: some good stuff there.

Maurizio Piccoli has been busy repeating routes in Wadi Ghalilah, including Acquiescence and Exit Surprise (maybe the third ascent – I blogged about the second ascent last year). He sent me a hand-drawn topo for Exit Surprise that may be useful for some people. Again it seems the guidebook’s E2 is a very low grade estimate for the route … it sounds like E3 at least.

I also now have a written account of routes done in Musandam by the TNF/ Nat Geo team. I am hoping to obtain some photos to go with it. Then I will upload it.

reworked Acquiescence topo

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

the last moves of pitch one of Acquiescence

Someone took an interest in my route Acquiescence in Wadi Ghalilah recently. This reminded me that neither the topo on the website nor the description in the guidebook (from when the route was still a project) are very good. I have uploaded an improved PDF topo here.

Obviously as the first ascentionist I would write this, but: factoring in the rock quality, the easy approach and the amazing cliff architecture I think Acquiescence is a strong contendor for the best route in the UAE. Anyone up to the job should go do it.

EDIT: as far as I know the route has only had three ascents so far. Greg and I got the FA in late 2009, then Andy LaBonte and Nasim Eshqi repeated it in early 2010 then Daniel Cieszynski and Aiden Laffey did it later in 2010.

mystery Cleavage route and other RAK notes

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Yesterday Dave Watson, Paul du Toit and I did a midsummer tour around the Roadside and Wadi Shahah area. I redpointed the mystery bolted line left of Hanging Haemorrhoid at the Cleavage. Unless anyone else claims it and has a name, I am calling it Lidocaine (*). The grade is F6c or F6c+. Hanging Haemorrhoid is slightly harder than it used to be since the removal of the cheat blocks underneath, maybe F6b+ or F6c.

Dave Watson on Hanging Haemorrhoid. Lidocaine is the line to the left.

A few other notes:

- the excellent Thug Monkey at Roadside needs a proper lower-off.

- Dave managed an almost-redpoint of Pokemon at Roadside despite the heat. Grade estimates for this route continue to vary wildly. Dave thought the guidebook grade F7b+ seemed about right.

- Crackrocksteady (Andy La Bonte’s E3 + F7b right of Tim’s Tipple) at Nearside is no longer climbable in its original form as a huge starting block has been removed by the Shahah road crew.

- I plan a topo for John Gregory’s Transition crag in Shahah when he has reached a suitable stopping point – October?


(* I have changed my mind on the name a few times, but I think this is my last edit. 14 Aug 2012)

the mythical sandstone

Saturday, 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.

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

Damian Cook’s article about UAE climbing

Monday, 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.

NPZ Update

Tuesday, 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.

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