"Not all those who wander are lost"

Desert?? Adventures

Of all the people I have ever known, those who have pursued their dreams and failed have lived a much more fulfilling life than those who have put their dreams on a shelf for fear of failure.




The group was planning on a 9am departure from Dubai.  Impatient to climb and wanting to make the best of every minute in the UAE Sam and I planned to head out before 8.  After trying unsuccessfully to find someone to take care of her dog for the night we headed out at 9, still about half an hour before everyone else.  We made it up to Tawayan and hiked down into the wadi under clear blue sunny skies.  I climbed the F5 for a warm up and belayed Sam on it.  After that it was game time for my redpoint attempt on Office Clerk.  I got up to the crux and stuck it no problem.  Then I fell the move after.  I had concentrated so hard on the one move that I had messed up the move after.  I took a break and belayed for a bit so I could be fresh on my next attempt.  Before I could get another try dark clouds began to move up the wadi.  The thought on everyone’s mind was “AGAIN? REALLY?”  Were we really going to get rained on two weekends in a row climbing in the desert?  The answer was yes.  We moved our stuff to the base of the overhanging crag and stood to see if we could wait it out like the week before.  A wall of rain moved up the wadi toward us.  Hopes sank, but I still had quickdraws on Office Clerk.  I grabbed my shoes, rallied a doubtful belayer, and tied into the sharp end.  The rain poured down all around as I climbed.  About 10 feet up I knew it was a hopeless attempt when wind whipped a sheet of water onto the rock soaking the hold I was reaching for.  I had no chance to hang on slopers if they were soaked.  Sure enough I fell.  Not wanting to leave my gear I down climbed the bottom third of the climb unclipping my draws as I went.  The crag was now wet and our group of 18 climbers, 1 two year old, and 3 dogs had scattered as people and dogs headed for shelter.  Wadis are dangerous places during a rain storms.  This one particularly had proved itself a few years earlier when I flash flood raised the level of the ground by 10 feet.  I still had gear on the warm up route though.  Not knowing when I would be back or wanting to risk losing gear I went for my second climb in the rain knowing that at any time a torrent could wash down the wadi taking us all with it.  This time the rock was already soaked.  The wind gusted nearly blowing me off at times as I made my way up the route.  If people ever want a way to make routes they think are easy more interesting my suggestion is try climbing it during a hurricane.  It was a completely different challenge and I loved it.

The last of us hiked out of the wadi as the wind nearly blew us over.  Most people had already headed back into the little town to meet there and make sure we were all accounted for.  Gordon invited everyone to hang out at his house and boulder.  By the time we made it back to Emirates road it was sunny and beautiful again.  At Gordon’s everyone hung out, bouldered, watched climbing movies, and ate food.  It turned out to be a great day despite getting rained off the rock. More than half the people decided that we wanted to go back out Saturday and decided to not even bother going home so we just spent the night on Gordon’s floor (he had tons of ultra comfy homemade sleeping pads).


We got a lazy start in the morning not knowing if we were going to just drive an hour and a half to find rain and turn around.  We checked out the view from the weather station (Gordon’s roof).  It looked hazy but not too ominous toward Tawayan.  The convoy headed back to the crag.  We were happy to find clear skies and dry rock when we got there.  I warmed up on a new route Toby had just bolted the previous weekend and I think rated a 6c or 6b+.  It was interested and very chossy but I managed the onsight for my warm up.  After a warm up Gordon got on his project Echo Beach (7c/5.12d) and redpointed it.  Lots of shouting and cheering ensued.  After a bit of a break it was time for me to get to business too.  Before anyone could get over to belay me Matt asked me to belay him on Echo beach too (he had been projecting it as well).  I obliged since he was going to just come down if he fell anyway.  He didn’t.  Matt got the redpoint only minutes after Gordon.  Now it was really my turn to send.

I felt like I couldn’t fail this time.  I knew the crux and knew I could do it.  I knew where to rest so I shouldn’t get too pumped.  I knew I could do it.  I started off like normal having to deadpoint a sloper from a mono pocket.  I pulled through the next couple moves and came to the crux.  I got myself it the right position (right foot pressing on a tiny vertical edge, left foot up to my waist, right hand on a not so good crimp) and reached way out left to another bad crimp.  I fumbled grabbing it and had to adjust my fingers several times but managed to hold on.  I bumped up to the next hold and got the right spot where it’s not just a bad sloper.  One move later I was passed two of the three spots I had fallen.  I made it to the large sloping crack in the middle and rested for a minute before I continued up onto a vertical lip.  I got a little worried on the lip when I realized I had to switch my hands at a spot where I really didn’t want to.  I managed to switch one finger at a time and not fall.  Finally I made it to a big undercling and rested for a minute since the next move was one I had fallen on just because I was too pumped.  After a rest it was no problem and I pulled around the bulge and to the top.  I had redpointed my first 7a+/5.12a.

While I was climbing Javi onsighted Stone Pussy (6c) too:  it was turning into a send fest.  More climbing ensued.  I mostly glazed over it all, just basking in the glory of my hardest climb.  After a while of muscle recovery Matt and I went over to try another 7a+ called Fujeirah Spaceport.  He had already done it so after an easy first pitch I took over to lead the hard part.

(belaying Matt on the first pitch of Fujeirah Spaceport)

The first 25 feet of the climb are still on the positive face with extremely loose rock.  One step I took went straight through soft rock that barely missed Matt on the way down.  The ~45 degree overhanging roof had lots of big holds and good moves.  The crux was a couple moves on some good crimps.  I managed it no problem.  After the crux I reached up to where I thought the next hold was.  Instead of the good ledge I was expecting I found a bad sloper.  I grabbed at another spot on the ledge but found the same.  NOOOO!  I couldn’t hold myself anymore and fell off after the second try.  I ruined my onsight of the 7a+.  After a quick rest I started again.  I had fallen to below the crux.  I pulled through the crux no problem again but this time easily found the good spot on the ledge.  It had been right there and I had missed it, just like my onsight.  I finished out the climb and belayed Matt as he redpointed it again.  After he was down I gave it another go but was too pumped to clip once I was passed the crux and fell again.  When I fell at the crux on my third try I knew I just didn’t have the energy anymore.  Disappointed with how close I was when I failed to onsight it I cleaned my draws and headed down.  Despite my disappointment in my performance on Fujeirah Spaceport I was pleased at the same time by the fact that I was disappointed I didn’t onsight a 7a+ even though it was the first day I had ever redpointed one.  Ultimately I was just happy about Office Clerk.


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