When people think of Arabia, they tend to think of big sand dunes with Lawrence of Arabia standing in a pose with his hand on his hip and maybe a falcon on his shoulder for good effect. They don’t think of the mountainous country that is Oman. Peaks as high as 3000m and shear faces of up to 1000m, which should appeal to climbers everywhere. While it is literally covered in rock, due to the tectonic plates being pushed up from the Indian ocean, it is difficult to find good rock or at least the kind that appeals to sport climbers. Oman is, in fact, an incredibly beautiful country that makes for a great escape for those climbers stuck in European or North American winter weather. Pretty much guaranteed sunny weather all year round with ample amounts of climbing and other activities, it’s hard to think of why one wouldn’t consider coming to Oman.
Historically speaking, climbing in Oman is relatively new. The first mention of climbing in Oman was when Frenchman Raymond Renaud climbed the aptly named French pillar in 1979 with siege tactics to tackle Jebal Misht (1100m). Rumor has it that the Sultan had a helicopter pick the team up from the top and whisk them off to a celebration to commemorate their ascent. While this seems unlikely, it wouldn’t be the first time something outlandish happened in the gulf. Renaud and other French guides have been coming to Oman ever since and indeed have been behind much of the early development. There were also a number of British developers as well. Jeff Horby for one, who developed many adventurous routes up Jebal Misht and elsewhere.
In more recent news, Oman has had several famous climbers come and climb and get media coverage. People may remember Alex Honnold’s visit to the coast doing some DWS documented in this post by Mark Synott Impossible Rock. Along with Jimmy Chin, Hazel Findlay and Mark Synnott, they made a short film about their climbs in Musandum, Oman.
Interestingly many of these routes had already been climbed by a group of British climbers (Tim Emmett, Neil Gresham, Mikey Robertson and Seb Grieve) and local strong men Read Macadam and Toby Foord-Kelcey.
A short time after that, Chris Sharma and Stefan Glowacz came to Oman to climb out of a cave, literally! They called the route, what else but “Into the Light”. This was the same name that Read Macadam and Jacob Oberhauser called the route they climbed out of at a nearby cave a month earlier. As unoriginal as these names seem Red bull had an issue with two routes being called the same name. As Red Bull paid so much money and spent so much time organizing the trip and expedition, Read and Jacob graciously renamed their route “Out of the Dark” (Has to make you smile, right?). Both climbs were filmed and are available online:
Speaking of films, it’s also worth checking out Read’s film Valley of Giants which gives a great snap shot of climbing and traveling in Oman
However, as far as sport climbing in the Muscat goes, it wasn’t until Patrick Cabiro and Nathalie Hanriot were commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism that Oman started to see its first modern sport routes (2008). In fact, they were the driving force in the development of Wadi Daykiah and “La Gorgette”. They were also the first to bolt in Hadash. More importantly, they gave the impedes to local residents to start developing their own routes close to Muscat.
Hamza Zidoum on Abracadabra 6c (5.11a) Wadi Daykia Photo credit: Natasa Silec
Enter Kim Vaughn and Bill Huguelet, two local residents keen to develop routes close to home, who developed several routes in Kubra Canyon. They spent a lot of their own time and money developing these routes. We have a lot of thanks to give to Bill and Kim as Kubra is still one of the best afternoon crags. It’s also a great place to start your climbing trip in Oman with lots of moderates and a great bolted multi-pitch. Bill and Kim first called Kubra “Secret Canyon” as they kept the development a secret from the now bustling climbing group. One weekend they surprised the group with a new crag! A nice surprise to a have an additional 40 some odd routes added to your climbing inventory.
Natasa Silec on The Bulge 6c (5.11a) Kubra Canyon Photo credit: Miguel Willis
So in a few short years, Oman went from about 5 sport routes to about 80. The only problem was that most of these routes were in the French grade 6 range (5.10). Very few 7’s (5.12) and no 8’s (5.13) had been developed. Not to mention one of the more picturesque crags (Hadash) was generally over looked. Here comes the Canadian influence, Read Macadam and Larry Michienzi. In a few short years Larry and Read started to develop Hadash to its fullest and easily doubled both the number of routes and a number of harder climbs in Oman. While Kubra and Daykia are home to some great moderates, Hadash is home to some of the hardest routes in Arabia and as the altitude of Hadash is 1500m it is a great place to climb from October to April.
Photo Credit: Natasa Silec
So while Kubra has some great moderates and Hadash has some great harder climbs Daykia is still home to the easiest approach (if you have a 4X4☺ ). You can literally belay out of your car if you want. It also has some fantastic 6c’s (5.11a/b)! and some nice moderates as well. Check out the slightly run out Turbo barbeque (6c/5.11a) and Agath Exit (6c+/5.11b/c) if that’s your jam. Insiders beta: head to Daykia early as it goes in the sun by mid-afternoon and even in the winter it can be quite warm.
Hamza Zidoum Gets beta from Local Photo Credit Natasa Silec
Two paper guides have been written about climbing in Oman. The Macdonald Guide (out of print) and a more recent guide also called ‘Climbing in Oman’ by long time Austrian climbing guide Jakob Oberhauser. While Jakob’s guide is very thorough it does lack the availability that an electronic guide can offer and also, while it has many details of the sport climbing in the area, it lacks some of the most up-to-date sport routes and topos. Of course, if it is multi-pitch climbing you are after, this is the guide for you. However, for those that want to do a little sport climbing in the Muscat area, this app is a very good supplement.
Larry arrived to the Sultanate of Oman with his wife, Kelly, in September of 2000 to teach at the Sultan Qaboos University. The combination of the laid-back atmosphere, kindhearted local people, potential for exploration and great weather, drew him in and he fell immediately in love with his new home.
Back in those days there was just a very small core group of climbers – even smaller than today! Less than a handful of bolted routes were equipped at the time, yet, the community was motivated and welcomed him with open arms. From that moment he was hooked, and he dropped his other pursuits – cycling and kite surfing – like that loose flake you tossed during your last ground-up mission.
After a hiatus due to injury – that darned loose flake – Larry returned to climbing and by then a few dozen sport climbs had been equipped in the country. Riding the momentum of their predecessors, Larry and a small group began to expand the sport climbing scene.
Larry Michienzi on Sparticus maximus 7c+ (5.13a) Hadash Photo credit: Natasa Silec
For the past few years Larry has been at the forefront of beefing out Oman’s crags and chances are, if you’re climbing a very good moderate route, especially at Hadash, you should thank Larry. In fact, we have worked so hard recently that the recently published guides cannot keep up!
Since arriving to Oman in 2008 I have also stayed. A lot of that is because the warm, open and motivated community vibe still lives thanks to Larry.
I think I speak for all of us climbers in Oman when I say, “Thank you, Larry, for all your hard work and thanks for this updated app guide!”
– Read Macadam, Nov 2016
Buy Yangshuo Rock here and save money versus purchasing from within our app via Apple or Google. It’s exactly the same guidebook, but offered at a lower price on rakkup.com.
Drone footage of the Painted Corridor, Photo: Rock Abond
If you’ve ever wondered what China or other parts of the Far East look like, now’s your chance. Yangshuo is one of the most unbelievably hip places on this planet. It’s a microcosm of everything you ever wanted in life. You know how there are those tiny locations nestled into the threadwork of each countries daily life labeled an ‘escape’, well Yangshuo is one of them. Life is pleasant here. Everyone walks around with a smile and are content with life. It’s a place removed from big city drama, allows cultures to cross, and welcomes every idea under the sun.
Traditional cormorant fishing culture, Photo: Anotherdayattheoffice.com
For starters, Yangshuo is located amidst the most amazing and fantastic scenery you will ever lay eyes upon. Plentiful 200m tall green towers rise abruptly in every direction starting immediately outside your hotel balcony continuing past your wildest fantasies. And when there aren’t any towers, you’ll find farmer villages surrounded by lush rice paddies and crazy amounts of interconnected trails with swimming holes and hidden caves. The best way to enjoy it all is by grabbing a bicycle and heading out to discover a surreal world where ancient lifestyles mingle with contemporary pursuits.
Overlooking Yangshuo Town, Photo: David Kaszlikowski
Heading back into town, you might be turned-off by the blistering pace of China’s population and their go-get-it attitude, but then you’ll realize what’s ahead of you is more interesting than the tranquil nature 5 minutes at your back. The town of Yangshuo offers a different perspective of China’s rich history more than any other tourist destination. As said before, it’s used as an escape from the real world, a weekend holiday get-away. The upbeat metropolitan tourists have forced Yangshuo to host an array of first-world amenities rivaled by few and far between. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the comfort.
Approach to The Egg, Photo: Ursa Kenk
So as you can see, Yangshuo is a tale of two towns. One with unrivaled natural beauty and a downhome local scene, ahhhh…the climbing, local people, and landscape are simply amazing. Then the second, an upbeat take-it-as-it-comes metropolitan escapade, with either a romantic calmness or wild eccentric nightlife. Yangshuo is an incredibly rare treasure to find on this planet, and its calling for you to experience it. Bring your smiles, climbing shoes, and adventurous soul, all to let yourself get lost in the splendor of everything that is China.
The only way to discuss rock climbing in Yangshuo is to start with the complete experience. Sure, you can travel here purely for the climbing, but after a few days you’ll realize there is so much more. Yangshuo is stocked full of the most interesting international climbers you will meet anywhere, and when intertwined with such a huge diversity of climbing styles it has evolved into the epitome of a world-class rock climbing destination.
Moon Hill, Photo: Henn Photography
Yangshuo rock is stupendous. The karst topography present in South China offers an experience like no other; areas in Thailand Laos and Vietnam can’t compete with the plethora of rock nor the subtle variations found in the rock of Yangshuo. Each of the 50+ crags are located on different towers resulting in every climbing sector having different atmosphere, scenery, and approaches. Furthermore, none of the crags are similar to each other with regards to sun exposure, weather protection, or rock features. Once you experience it, you’ll easily understand why Yangshuo’s rock caters to everyone’s preferred climbing style…even limestone cracks!
Moon Hill, Photo: Henn Photography
As mentioned, there is something for everyone. Routes range in difficulty from 5.5/4 to 5.14d/9a with plenty of high-end Open Projects. There is steep pumpy terrain, technical edgy face climbs, and 3D body torqueing routes. You can pull on tufas until your heart’s content or tip-toe crimp your way to heaven. Everything is possible in Yangshuo including, multi-pitches, deep-water soloing, traditional routes, and limitless development potential. These are the main reasons why Yangshuo has been repeatedly featured in climbing films as well as magazines and continues to attract professional climbers from around the globe.
Yangshuo is one of the best climbing locations in the world. Yes, the rock diversity plays a major role in this designation, but when mixed with friendly welcoming people, a plethora of opposite sex eye-candy, comfortable and familiar living amenities, and easy access to international travel hubs, it’s difficult to find another location with such appeal. After you’ve been here for a while, you may never want to leave. The amount of psych emanating from your crag mates is unrivaled anywhere. You’ll push past individual mental limitations and find undiscovered motivation to attain your next high-point. Give Yangshuo the chance to show you what is possible in this world. It could be the next place you call home!
José Molina is a Western Massachusetts native. He grew up in Northampton, but was not introduced to the wealth of local cragging in Western Mass until his early twenties – too old to ever get really strong, but still young enough to become disproportionately interested in rocks with names. He is sort of useful on a rope, but his core belief that mantling is not an important climbing skill – combined with his breathtaking lack of explosive power – makes him a bit of an underachieving boulderer.
Since cutting his teeth at local Western Mass crags, he has since left the Connecticut River valley to seek his fortune elsewhere1. In the process, he has climbed rocks that people have given ridiculous names to in at least these countries: Australia, Canada, China, Laos, Mexico, Oman, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.
Western Massachusetts Bouldering Guidebook author José Molina
Having climbed on the Taipan Wall, he can at least tell you this about rock climbing: there are crags in the world that offer much, much better climbing than anything in southern New England. However, he can also tell you another thing: he has had as much fun flailing on squat gneiss boulders nestled in the New England forest as he has had sending big on world class sandstone and limestone. Seriously.
He is now too old to climb even sort of hard, so mostly he just amuses himself by playing squash and cataloging small rocks. But he encourages you to round up some friends, go to the woods, and send big (or flail hard). Go now.
_____________________________________ 1Elusive fortune still being sought.
Moab is the name of a son, born of a young woman who tricked her father into having sex with her. It follows that it would become a wild child, run by a humpbacked flute player..the mythical Hopi symbol of fertility, replenishment, music, dance, and mischief. The place is a gypsy camp akin to “Burning Man”. Complete with the warm smell of colitas rising up through the air. Many of the town’s businesses are closed in the winter, when their owners move back to reality. A trip to this bustling recreational sprawl in the spring or fall is a “trip” with Kokopelli, indeed.
kokopelli-Moab Rock Climbing
Moab is a land of extremes. Such is life in a desert town born of a uranium mine. You can set up your tent in someone’s backyard in the middle of town for $10. Use the next door neighbor’s shower for another $5. And hit the cantina for tacos & beer 3 blocks down. You can check yourself into a “hostel” or “cabin commune” for a few bucks more and get a shower and microwave. Patchouli scent will be thrown in for free…whether you want it or not. $150/night is typical for a hotel room in April…if you book it by February. The same room will be available at a moments notice in July for $40/night. More traditional Forest Service campsites surround the town. Some are reservable…four months in advance. The rest are first come / first serve.
Ivan perevozov on Horizontal Mambo Photo By: Michael Loh – Moab Rock Climbing
Moab is a place people travel to for fun. The result is a gregarious party atmosphere of shared resources. Beer, campfires, coolers, drums, jeeps, bikes, ropes, boats, giant cams, bloody legs, bikini tops and cut-off jeans…all covered in a reddish-brown tint. Moab is four wheeling, dirt biking, river running, and rock climbing fun! Moab Rock Climbing is the most comprehensive guidebook to climbing on Wall Street, Moab’s most popular crag. But it also covers the most popular crags on Kane Creek Road and River Road with detailed route descriptions and color photo-topos. Over 150 routes are covered so far. All are within 15 miles of town.
Snake Slab (5.8) Moab Rock Climbing
Moab is Chinle, Cutler, Entrada, Kayenta, Moenave, Moenkopi, Navajo, Tuft, Vaqueros and Wingate. In the language of scientists and climbers alike. This “type locality” is the way we describe the ever-present sandstones in and around Moab, and that which covers the clothing, skin and hair of every person the moment they exit the vehicle that brought them here. Most cracks are parallel-sided, demanding mastery of jamming techniques. The surface of desert rock is like fine sandpaper. The dry air and porous rock will suck the sweat right out of your hands. If you’ve honed your friction skills on glacier-polished granite slabs you are in for some excitement on Navajo sandstone. Its a whole ‘nutherworld here. You may have heard horror stories about crazy old bolts and teetering loose blocks in the desert. They are all true. Ha! But this Moab Rock Climbing guidebook helps you navigate through the mix of good and bad protection and loose terrain with solid, up-to-date information and historic anecdotes.
Flakes of Wrath Photo By: Adam Winters – Moab Rock Climbing
Moab! The word makes the back of my hands tingle with the remembrance of pain, fear, and enthusiasm. Don’t worry if that’s not your kink. Its not all hand-jamming and teetering towers of mud here. This guidebook comes with equal parts crack, slab and vertical face. Nearly half the routes are actually sport climbs. And if you’re hankering for a road trip to a town with locals who actually welcome climbers, you might find a slice of heaven here.