Saturday, April 28, 2007


Wadi Hilti update

This crag, developed by the Cook brothers in 1999, has been visited a few times over the last six months. All the routes have been repeated, one new line added and one new set of anchors added. The rock here is the best I have climbed on amongst the crags easily accessible from the UAE: water-smoothed with lots of slopey holds and pockets, and almost no sharp edges. The written location description is accurate in the Al Stark guide but position marked slightly wrong on the road diagram. Park 10km into Wadi Khab Shamsi from the mosque roundabout in Dabba (the Oman side of Dibba), where the track rises up from the main wadi bed on the left. Hike easily up into the side wadi for a few minutes. The cliff is the first encountered on the left. There seems to be plenty more potential on other crags in the wadi higher up. The environment is really pleasant, secluded from the road and shady with some surprisingly large mature trees.

From left to right the routes are:
  1. Each Perfect Second F7a+ Continuously overhanging climbing with no rests but no really hard moves. Repeated onsight by Dan Donovan in January 2007. The route used to share anchors awkwardly with the next route; I have now added an independent set right above.
  2. Shooting My Mouth Off F7b+ Very technical and powerful moves past the first two bolts on slopey layaways and two-finger pockets. More easily to a rest, then one more strenuous sequence to finish. I repeated redpoint in April 2007.
  3. Groovey Chick F5 Quite awkward diagonal line, up a ramp and short corner.
  4. Shooing My Wasp Off F6b New line added by Scott Barber in April 2007. Climb directly up the vertical wall to join the previous route.
  5. Potter's Field F6a Steep moves on big edges.

Dan about to fall off the crux of Shooting My Mouth Off

Damian Cook, probably the most talented climber to be based in the UAE, who tragically drowned in Mallorca in 2004, also developed the large boulders in Wadi Khab Shamsi between Wadi Hilti and the (closed) track to Zighi beach. The topos were bundled on the CD-ROM of Al Stark's guide. By chance I recently got an email from Eszter Cook, Damian's widow, talking about these boulders:

I spent lots of days there with him, at his boulderfield, and he was always wondering if anyone would ever climb there again after we left. His brothers - Simon and Dominic Cook - also used to love climbing there with him. ..... [When] I was pregnant with my daughter Damian would get up at 2am, drove 4 hours to the place, climbed for 3 hours and was back for lunch.

They lived in Abu Dhabi - so an incredible distance to drive for a morning's climbing!

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