"Not all those who wander are lost"

SDR & 5.12s

To be tested is good. The challenged life may be the best therapist.

Gail Sheehy



It was a crazy, hectic, week from hell preparing for my System Design Review (SDR).  Andy, Allie, and I spent almost every waking minute trying to prepare.  Thursday came well before it was wanted.  The day started out with a tour of the local desalination plant in Jebel Ali.  It was great to see the largest desal plant in the world, especially since we learned about it in my Renewable Energy Systems class and are doing desal for our Senior Design project.  It was disconcerting to find out that they don’t even remove fish from the water before blasting it with chlorine and killing everything.  There was even a large dead fish floating in the first reservoir.  Unfortunately the actual flash desalination takes place in large chambers that are not visible, but we got to track the entire process and see all of the other processing that goes into creating drinking water from sea water.  To top it off we even got polos, a computer mouse, and fed mini sandwiches at the end that were tasty and vegetarian.  Interesting, informative, and free food: all the components for a good tour.

We headed back to RIT for our last few hours of preparation and our SDR.  We practiced the portion of the presentation we had each decided to present for a few hours until the time came and the real thing got underway.  Dr. Hensel, the head of the ME department was in Dubai for the week and attended our review in person so we were a bit nervous about it.  Other than skype working even more poorly than normal, the whole thing went alright.  Having Dr. Hensel there in person turned out to be very helpful as we could talk with him in person for the first time during our project.

The three of us made it back to EA just in time to grab a bite of food and head out to celebrate with the rest of the gang at Fibber McGees.  We had dinner, chatted, belted out songs we knew when they were played (ok, that was mostly just me and Andy) and had a jolly good time.  Much later than I should have been back since I was climbing in the morning the first group headed back to EA and I joined.



I woke up to my phone ringing.  It was Brian.  He was already at my building to pick me up.  Apparently I forgot to set alarms or just slept through them all.  I grabbed my climbing gear, some water, and some snacks and stuffed them into my backpack and ran out the door.  I was still exhausted, hungry, and dehydrated when we got up to RAK to climb.  The group ended up being Brian, Renata, Ludmil, and me.  I pounded water, ate some of my snacks, and we walked up to the base of DickinaDozer to climb.  I skipped the easiest climb and worked my way up the other four from the 5.10a (Motivate) to the 11.b (Reach for the Sky).  They were a good set of climbs and by the time I had done a couple of them I totally forgot about being hungry or thirsty, I just wanted to climb more.

(Me on Dog Leg Interruption, 5.10b/c)

Brian and Renata headed off while Ludmill and I did the 5.11b so once done we headed around the corner to Zombie Skull where there were some more routes.  There are several easier routes that we had done during xmas break but I had my eye on the prize:  The Space Between.  It’s a F6c+ in the book, but the consensus is that it’s a 7.a+ (5.12a) route that goes up the almost blank side of a giant boulder.  I geared up and started to lead it.  I got as far as the first bolt and kept trying some ungodly hard moves to get higher off a razor sharp two finger pinch.  It wasn’t working.  After a while of trying things I finally gave up and came down.  I was planning on leading and easy trad line that I could use to get to the top of the boulder and set a top rope when a guy showed up.  He introduced himself as Ralph, the guy who had bolted the newer and easier (than 5.12a) routes Renata and Brian were on.  We chatted for a bit and he told me that the bolts on The Space Between were weird and that I actually don’t really follow them but stay to the left more.  Before resorting to the TR I gave it another go.  This time things worked out better.  I stayed to the left and made it past the second bolt.  The holds were tiny and sloped, but I pulled through and made it up the first part.

(Me on the lower part trying to get up to the second bolt)

(Me about to reach the top of the lower section)

The route got a positive grade and I scrambled up the 15 ft to the next section of hard climbing.  I was on the left side of a rounded edge of a slab face with no holds.  I worked my way up and down a couple times trying to find a way to get myself all the way onto the slab.  I managed to find the two smallest crimps and with some tricky footwork and lifting my foot above my waste I found a sequence I thought would work.  The first couple moves worked out but as I had to stand up onto my foot which was on a steep slope and balance using holds that were well blow my waste when I stood up I was precariously positioned.  Before I could reach up to find another hold my foot slipped and I went sliding backwards off the rock.  Back down 15 ft below I was disappointed, but knew it would work if I could balance.  I went back up and tried again, this time I was more unsure of my foot.  I had to bounce a bit to keep sliding it up and reposition it which is never a fun thing to do when one foot is the only thing I had to hold me up.  It worked though.  I stuck the move and finished some slab moves up to the top.  So much for the difficult part at the bottom, this was definitely the crux.

After Ludmil had a go on The Space Between on TR we moved the rope over and I TRed Cyclops Eye (7a in the book, 7b or c by consensus which is 5.12b or d).  I was already tired but managed to haul my way up the decent holds and hard moves to the top with a few stops along the way.  It was no clean run or even a lead, but it sure worked the muscles.

(Throwing up a heel hook to get over the lip of the roof)

(In the eye of the cyclops)

Still not burned out enough I decided to lead Axis of Evil (5.10b) because it was the only bolted route there that I hadn’t done.  It was a good finisher, fun moves, but not terribly hard or requiring lots of energy.

After that we headed back to the car.  Despite the rough start and not having a real meal all day it had been a great day of climbing and I did the most routes I had done in a day in the UAE, including an 11b, 12a, and TRed 12b/d.  Before I didn’t know that I could even do a 5.12, but as I headed back I decided I have a new goal:  climb at least one 5.12 every weekend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *