"Not all those who wander are lost"

The Last Weekend in Dubai

Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain-tops are within reach.

-John Muir

 

2/16

After presentations for Renewable Energy Systems Javi picked me up and we headed to the Rech cave.  Unfortunately I hadn’t finished the report for my renewable energies project so I spend half the time bouldering and the other half finishing the report.

 

2/17

We got the usual crack of late morning start and headed to Hatta.  I was shocked to see the number of people at the crag:  the group of usually around 10-15 was doubled as well as another group of four.  From the top I counted 14 cars parked at the bottom.  This isn’t a big crowed for people who have climbed other placed, but compared to the scarcity of climbers in UAE it’s like the great migration.

After the approach Javi and I got started on Balrog (6c).  It was a good route with a crux reaching for a hidden hold.  Of course, I didn’t see the hidden hold so I did a several difficult moves on horrible slopers and a tiny pinch.  After that I had wasted so much energy it was a bit of a struggle to do the easier moves but I managed to pull through and get the onsight.  After Balrog Gordon and I wanted to do Thin Slapping (7a).  We began meandering that way but it was still in the sun so we waited for a while and belayed people at the Bat Cave.

(Maddie on Justice League)

(Scooter (left) on Gotham City and Javi on Boy Wonder)

(Javi on Boy Wonder)

Eventually Thin Slapping went into the shade and we moved over to give it a go.  On my very first trip to Hatta I tried the route, but had no idea how hard it was since we didn’t have a book and ended up down climbing.  Since I couldn’t get a true onsight Gordon went for it.  He made it just past where I had made it up to and struggled.  From there it’s a series of awkward technical movies through a couple crux sections the neither of us got clean.  After our attempts we were both knackered and decided not to give it another go.  Regrettably, I never made it back to Hatta to finish the route.

After the beat down on Thin Slapping I tried Boy Wonder.  It wasn’t really an onsight anymore because I had been watching people on it for a while already.  Maybe if it had been a true onsight I would have been able to do it.  As it was I made it through most of the route but twice got stuck trying to do what I thought they had said was the next move, but was actually not.  After a good wrench to my ankle which I felt for weeks after I didn’t try to do the non-move and finished the right way.

The sequence…

(Enjoying the hands free rest)

After another belay break I tried Justice League (6b) and finally got another onsight.  It was a fun overhanging route with a great photogenic start.

Everyone was winding down for the day as we headed back toward the Fridge (one of the areas).  More than half of the cars were gone from the parking area or had people meandering toward them.  But it was still light out, for the moment, and there were still draws on Spiderpig for me to get.  Javi was keen to try it too so I let him give it a go, knowing I would only have time to do it if he couldn’t.  Instead I went to the Fridge to try to get someone to belay me on an absurdly overhanging route called Chloe (6a+).  Nobody was interested.  Everyone wanted to head down so they wouldn’t have to hike down in the dark.  Despite my first experience at the crag, only wearing flip flops for the full hike, and not having a headlamp, I was still eager to get more climbing in.  Maddie obliged and belayed me up the route.  It was interesting because the first bolt was several moves in to avoid excessive rope drag so I got a spot for the first third of the route.  After that I clipped and managed to finagle my way through the rest of the overhangs to the top.  At this point the smart thing to do is lower off and have someone clean it, even if it had just been me again.  Of course, that’s not what I did.  Thinking it would seem worse if I climbed it again I ended up down climbing most of the route to get my gear since it traversed so severely.  When I unclipped the second bolt and began moving to reach the first I hit the end of my rope.  Regardless of the slack Maddie gave me I just couldn’t move any farther.  Once again, the easier option to leave it and get it from the ground was not what I did.  Instead I secured myself directly to a bolt and managed to wiggle my way to some nearly upside angle where I could reach the bolt.  Cleaning the route was officially much harder than leading it.  Even after going to check on Javi, who had completely Spiderpig, we made it down in perfect timing just before it got dark.

We headed back to Gordon’s for the world premiere of Madworld 8, barbecue, and bouldering.  Well, the bouldering didn’t really happen.  Everyone was too tired from climbing and wanted to rest up for the next day.  I, on the other hand, still hadn’t had enough so I bouldered for a bit by myself.  Hamad arrived and we watched Madworld 8.  Laughing, guffawing, teasing, and merriment ensued and continued for the remainder of the night.

 

2/18

The group consensus was a return to Tawaian.  For me that meant one thing: Fujeirah Spaceport (7a+).  Using the first pitch of the climb as a warm up Gordon and I headed straight for it.  To be honest, it wasn’t terribly exciting.  Gordon onsighted it.  With fresh arms I red-pointed it no problem.  I was happy to have finished it, but I know I should have had it my first try so it wasn’t much consolation.  I rested up while watching some of the other guys do a great looking, extremely exposed 2 pitch route called Jebel Jebel (6b).

Next I set my sights on Toby’s newly bolted and finished route called Caracal Branch.  It was a very fun route with several hard moves.  The first move that seemed hard was a big reach to a finger lock under a roof.  It turned out the move wasn’t as hard as it seemed and the finger lock was so good that I got my finger seriously stuck in it and took several tries to get it out.  Next was a seemingly impossible reach to a shark tooth shaped rock.  To my surprise I managed the move.  The route got progressively harder for the next move.  Despite Toby’s beta, I just couldn’t do his powerful pull with a foot at my stomach height and found a way to use some bad side pulls instead.  The best, or hardest actually, was saved for last.  It was an intense move that required a nearly full length lay-out using a side pull and almost no feet.  I was able to do it using a knee bar to get the edge of the hold but to fully get it I then had to slowly remove the knee bar as I inched (or millimetered) my hand into the hold.  After that it was one easy move to the top, by which point I had fallen several times and was nowhere close to getting an onsight, but had hope for the next trip to the crag.

After the two routes I was burned out, but gave Office Clerk a go for a workout.  I managed to do a different method through the crux which I had thought was going to be much more difficult and just hauled my way though the route.  I may have done other stuff, but nothing good enough to stick in my memory so I’ll say that was about the day.

(Preparing for the big crux move)

(The move was so big I went out of the frame)

 

2/19

Despite Thursday being a holiday so everyone had a three day weekend I still only got two days of climbing in.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get anyone to climb with for Saturday even though I certainly tried.  Instead most of the RIT crew headed to the spice souk for another round before we all left.  It was much like previous visits: I was underprepared, although I finally did have a list of spices and prices, and didn’t know enough about what I wanted to buy.  I got some spices to bring home and decided to forgo several of them.  We headed to an Iraqi restaurant for dinner that Andy raved about.  Sadly it was not only extremely expensive, but had absolutely no vegetarian meals.  Maybe it was a good combination though because I only got an appetizer and didn’t have to spend the full money for a dinner.  Overall I was still really disappointed that I had gone to the Iraqi restaurant instead of taking the quick trip across the river for the awesome vegetarian restaurant.  Lots of tiny violins played.  I survived.

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