Rock Climbing and Outdoor Adventures in Dubai, UAE
United Arab Emirates
Rock Climbing and Outdoor Adventures in Dubai, UAE Reviews
Very fun Mar 05, 2011
I was in Dubai 2 years ago and I loved the rck climbing. It is not the regular one you find in malls but a pro level.
I also liked the Dune Safari, which is just amazing.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Rock Climbing and Advetures Nov 12, 2010
If you are visiting Dubai, the surrounding Emirates or Oman try not to limit your visit to the cities. Out side of the cities lays a vast and wonderful Desert full of dunes and mountains.
Among the dunes and mountains there are many different adventures to partake in; one of which is rock climbing and my personal favorite. Groups of climbers venture out to the Hajar Mountains every Friday and Saturday to climb well established areas and routes and to explore new ones. The mountains are full of climbing, hiking, camping and many other things to do.
For the best information in one area please refer to the UAE Guidebook. The guidebook contains good topo's of the routes and decent directions to these areas. While it is one of the better guide books in which I have come across it leaves out some information and areas and routes. A lot of the info can be found on the guide books web page and other web sites in .pdf format or on the forum. These sites are listed on the bottom. You can also find the UAE Guidebook at Go Sports, Global Climbing, Picnico, on Amazon.com, or the books web page http://www.redarmadapublishing.com/updates.php
No matter how much information is online about climbing areas there will always be an apparnet need for climbing guidebooks nor does not replace that of any guidebook. I highly recommend purchasing a copy of the book. Buying copies of guidebooks helps to stimulate the local climbing culture and climbing economy.
Below is the information pertaining to rock climbing in this portion of the world. The information that I am a submitting about these areas has been compiled from my own experiences and from scouting the areas, from research I have done in the guide books and online and from other climbers which I have met or contacted. I am aiming to make the climbing and the hard work done by the pioneers here better know and established with the most useful and up to date information possible. Again however much info is posted online does not replace a guidebook. The information posted is to peak interest and direct you to climbing and to the UAE Guidebook...
If you read this and feel that I left things out, have added miss leading information, have a better description please contact me and let me know so I can update these areas. I am also looking for other climbers to help contribute to these areas. I am compiling as much information as I can, I am looking for pictures, topo,s, areas, routes, FA info, historical info, GPS coordinates......If you have or know any one that has any info please post it or forward it to me so I may post. Thank YOU. :)
The pictures which I have uploaded are pictures that I have taken myself, been given by other climbers or found online on open websites, if the information or pic I have posted came from another website the the appropriate web address has been given and referenced.
I do not take credit for that in which is not mine. Credit has been given to those who have put in the hard work. Links to where I get the information has been posted below. The only thing I do take credit for is researching and spreading the information about UAE climbing. Again reference links are given below.
Secondly but foremost recognition needs to be given to those who have put in many hours in the sweltering heat to develop these areas. For a more complete history please refer to the guidebook or info online. For a list of some of these great pioneers and heroes please see the bottom. For a complete FA list please follow this link.
Type of Climbing
Within the UAE/Oman you will find traditional climbing, sport climbing, top-rope climbing, bouldering and DWSing.
There are traditional routes ranging from a single pitch to almost alpine in scale, 800-1000m. A second ascent of the 13 pitch Barun Wall by Aiden Laffey and Andrew Labonte can by found on You Tube.
There are tons of sports routes. The majority of the sport routes can be found at Wanderwall or Hatta Crag, however there are other sport routes at other locations as well. The majority of the sport routes are less then 30m. You will find a few longer 2-3 pitch sports routes at various crags.
There is loads and loads of bouldering. One of the best know and more established bouldering areas is Damian's Boulders (also known as Boulder World). Damian's Boulders is a dense collection of large boulders in Oman not far from Dibba. There are also other boulder fields to be discovered. Various crags also contain large boulders here and there.
Deep Water Soloing (DWS) is along the coastal regions on the Northern region of Oman known as Musandam. The two best places from which to access the coastal cliffs are Dibba and Khasab. The miles and miles of coastline is stunningly beautiful and attracts many climbers in the heat of summer.
Grading Systems Used
The following grading systems have been used on climbs:
• Sports Routes: French
• Traditional: British
• Bouldering: V
• An accurate grade converter can be found at
Where to Climb
The UAE/Oman has some very interesting, challenging and enjoyable climbing. The UAE/Oman is abundant in routes of all types; top-rope, sport, trad and DWS. Within the UAE and the border between UAE/Oman holds a significant potential for rock climbing, hiking, camping, mountaineering, mountain biking, off-roading... In the last several years there has been a large amount development of a lot of crags, which continues still. However, there is unmistakably room for more routes on current crags and a lot of new crags to be found. The general areas where climbing has taken place are as follows:
• Khasab- On the Northern tip of Oman on the Musandam Peninsular, DWSing and some nice looking beach cliffs.
• Al Ain -On the UAE/Oman border, East of Abu Dhabi and S. East of Dubai. Holds lots of trad and sport routes at Wonderwall.
• Wadi Bih- On the UAE/Oman Border, East of Ras Al Khaimah. Mostly trad climbing. The border post on the UAE side is closed. YOu can still access the by coming over from Dibba.
• Ras Al Khaimah (RAK)- The largest concentration of climbing is within the Emirate of RAK. There is trad, sport and bouldering. East of Dubai.
• Beyond RAK- N.East of RAK and just South of the Musandum (Oman) border.
• Dibba Coast and Inland- In Oman, just past the UAE/Oman border, Dibba gives access to DWS on the Eastern side of the Musandam Peninsular. Inland from Dibba is a very famous bouldering area known as Damian's Boulders.
• Central (Madam)- On the UAE/Oman border 45 min East of Dubai. It has a very large area with a very large collection of sport routes at Hatta Crag.
• Abu Dhabi- In Abu Dhabi, one small but nice bouldering area on the coast
• Southern Slope- Near the UAE/Oman Border. N. East of Dubai and West of Dibba.
• Dubai- Home to two nice man made climbing walls
Character of Rock
The rock formations are very beautiful, unique and diverse. The climbing is located within the Hajar Mountain Range. For the most part the mountain range is made up of limestone. The quality of limestone is also quite unique and diverse. You will find some hard dense rock but expect to find lots of loose flakes, choss. Unlike many other limestone climbing areas of the world the UAE does not see lots of rain or freezing temperatures; therefor it has not seen much weathering from water or freeze-thaw effects. The combination of wind, some water but mostly the high temperatures has resulted in a layer of surface rock that is often brittle. This top layer is like a skin from a few millimeters to centimeters thick that often peels or breaks off. While there is a lot of smooth rock out there it takes time to find and clean. What you are likely to find is a lot of very sharp and unstable rock. Below the surface layer, the rock is generally hard but can be fractured like many limestones. A post by Global Climbing after Fischer Bolts came out and tested their bolts state that, "The sales representative of Fischer said that the UAE has one of the hardest Lime stone in the world." (The link can be found here www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001213269218#!/photo.php?>>> ). Some routes are very well cleaned while others are not. Expect dirty crags and a lot of loose rock and flakes. The top layer of uncleaned rock often just peels away from the underlying rock.
UAE is virgin land. The opportunity for first ascents is amazing, however do not expect to come out and make a first ascent in one day or even a few. Most of the climbs here take several days or more of hard cleaning. There are a lot of routes being set up. Those that are setting up these routes take lots of time to develop and clean them. If you come across a new route please be courteous to those that are doing the hard work to set them up and give them the right of first ascent (or attempt at it).
Sixty meter ropes are sufficient for the vast majority of routes; double or 1/2 ropes may be considered for trad routes. For sports climbing you will need up to 15 QDs and a few longer slings. For traditional climbing, an extensive and varied rack including cams and nuts is recommended with a few extra medium sized nuts on wire. There are a variety of lower offs at the top of sports routes so be prepared for lower off chains through to two normal bolt hangers. If you are planning to top rope off lower off chains it is requested that the rope is fed through a screw gate carabineer to preserve the abseil rings. You can purchase most of the climbing equipment that you will require here in the UAE from either Go Sports, Decathlon or Picnico; these outlets are all within Dubai but it is anticipated that an Abu Dhabi outlet will be available soon.
You will be climbing in the desert. I recommend bringing along a Camelbak/Platypus or similar apparatus. Along with water it is also wise to store a few energy bars is cargo pockets.
I also recommend having a first aid kit with you and in the vehicle. Non-toxic super glue will be your friend out here. Carry it on climbs, but be careful. Not only will it sterilize a cut but it rather quickly stops bleeding and leaves a hard protective coating on your fingers to continue climbing.
It is slightly possible to climb year round. During the summer months it is recommended by those who climb here to move inland to Hatta and Wonderwall or the crags in Wadi Al Bih. The temperatures will be in the mid-40s (Celsius) and the humidity tends to be lower in these areas than on the coast. From October through to April is the "Winter Season" when the temperatures are much cooler. During this time frame expect to see a lot more activity at the crags. Apart from the winter months, it is strongly recommended to avoid climbing in the sun. Several people have sustained serious injuries from doing so.
For the DWSer; water temperatures in summer will be mid 30s and in the late winter (February) will fall to a around 20 degrees.
There are likely to be a couple of days of rain during the winter months and the risk of thunder storms year round in land; just make sure that you stay clear of wadi bottoms during and immediately after any rain. Certain wadis maybe subject to flash flooding. If you are in a wadi and it starts raining it is recommended to leave asap. There are stories of climbers/hikers... being trapped by flood waters from a few days upwards to two weeks.
This is desert climbing at its best. Don't expect a lot of clouds here, it is very sunny; however there are a lot of shaded areas depending on where you are climbing and it is reccomended to seek out these areas to climb in. The valleys and wadis are where you often find more shade. Shaded areas also depend on the time of day.
Fling into Dubai or Abu Dhabi is usually the easiest and best way to go. There is also an airport in Sharja and Ras Al Khaimah.
The majority of the current climbing locations are accessible by 2WD but I highly recommend a 4WD vehicle, you can get close enough not to require a 4WD vehicle.
Driving in the UAE/Oman is also very dangerous. The accident rate is very high. Pay close attention while driving and be on the defensive at all times.
Maps and GPS-
Do not rely on you Tomtom or Garmin to get you there. The roads here change day by day. One day you will take one road and the next it won’t be there, no seriously. GPS isn’t updated enough to use in these region, while they are nice and can be helpful they can also get you lost. There are several good off-road maps and atlas books that you can purchase that will be very helpful as well.
Held held GPSes are best. There are tracks, routes and maps that you can find online.
The UAE and Oman is abundant with places to camp for free. If you are camping please make sure that it is in an area as not to disturb UAE locals. Please clean up after yourself.
There are not traditional "Pay" campgournds with showers and electrical hook up that I know of. That is also what makes it more fun.
Access and Other Considerations
Home, Home, Home on the Crag
The local populations are generally hospitable and friendly to climbers and the number of adverse situations has been minimal. Please avoid parking in villages and camping on what may be pasture/farmed land. The right of access to climbing locations is untested and hopefully will remain so. Please ensure that you conduct yourself in a dignified fashion at all times. In the event of a local requesting that you move on, it is strongly requested that you do so promptly and without argument. It is suggested that if you are climbing to have someone with you that speaks some Arabic.
While climbing do not be surprised at all if you gather an audience either. Locals and people of other nationalities often like to stop and watch what is going on. One of the routes on Farside, Angle's Way, was informally named by a local that had stopped to watch those climbing. He stated that, "they look like Angles way up there."
Keeping the locals happy and having a good relation with them is very important. Please be respectful to local customs.
Some areas are accessible from the road and others require a hike through the wadi's. If you are out be sure to bring extra food and water and make sure you have four wheel drive if you are straying away from paved roads.
Never leave any gear unattended and unseen. If you will be away then lock your stuff in your vehicle. Anything left outside will grow legs and walk off.
Again Some of the climbing is very near the UAE/Oman border or in Oman. Make sure that you have your passport or Visa at all times.
Everyone in the UAE litters, so please don’t be like them. As climbers we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. Please keep the climbing areas clean not only for your self but everyone else. Please take all of your litter and trash home with you (cigarette butts and water bottles included). I advise that you bring a shovel and bury your shit and TP as well.
Some of the areas are along the UAE and Oman border. There is still some disputes as to where exactly the border is. They debate over weather or not a certain side of a mountain lies with in the UAE or Oman. Passports and Visas may be required and are highly recommended.
Alcohol and or transporting of it is also illegal in certain areas.
Conduct in the areas is also very important as to make sure that the climbing areas with in the UAE and Oman remain open. Please be respectful of locals and their customs.
Climbing is dangerous in any part of the world. Some say that it is more dangerous here and I would have to agree with them for a few reasons.
Many of the climbing areas are in remote area where there is no cell phone service. Furthermore in the areas where there is service emergency response numbers are often changing. While you may be able to get a hold of EMS they may take some time getting to you.
It is rumored if there are repeated accidents or incidents in areas then it may result in the government taking action and closing such areas.
If you want to assist with the development of UAE climbing then there is a fund where voluntary contributions are always welcome to offset the significant personal contributions that the route developers make themselves. To contribute please contact me. My self along with a few others will be more than welcome for the contribution and make sure that it gets put to great use. I can also put you in touch with the others that would use the bolts or equipment. You can also get in touch with them on the UAE climbing forum of Facebook page or by following any of the links below.
UAE Pioneers and Heroes
Every one below has played a part in helping establish climbing in the UAE and Oman. They all also have played a small part in making this page. A lot of the information I am posting would not be possible if it were not for them. THANK YOU!!!
John Gregory is one of the original pioneers. He has been setting routes here for over 30 years and helped a lot of people make their first FA. His routes vary in length and difficulty. John mostly puts up trad routes and they are known for their variations and for beenign well cleaned. He sometimes works with his sons Ian and Chris and various other climbers like Tony Kay. Dee McEnery is one of John Gregory's partners.
Alan Stark was the original composer of the first guide book and developed many routes with partner Tim Richards. Toby Foord-Kelcey wrote the second guide book and runs the redarmadapublishing.com wed page for the book. He has also organized a lot of climbs and put up a lot of amazing routes.
Gordon Rech routes are said to be, "amung the most popular in the UAE." Godon has spent many hows laboring to put up amyn sport routes Bernard Warren is known for helping to develop Wonderwall and NPZ.
Damian and Dominic Cook put up many sport routes and are best known for their work at Spice World. Damian was the pioneer for Damian's Boulders. Damian unfortunately past away in a drowning accident in 2004.
Pete Ardinkle and Guida Verschut run the Global Climbing Company and are responsible for many FA's and great routes.
Hamad Sajwani is a strong climber and well known for working to keep the peace with the UAE/Oman locals. Mike Oliver is known for renting bouts and taking hordes climber to the cliffs for DWSing.
Andrew LaBonte and Aiden Laffey are two very strong climbers that have put up some amazing routes. They recently made the second ascent of the Barun Wall in Ras Al Khaimah.
A few other people you are sure to hear about or meet are Bill Wheeler and Antoine Fabre.
A lot of the information that I have collected and consolidated for this page can be found at the below links. These links contain more information as well. This is but a brief overview of climbing here. For the best info please follow the links. If you are to venture here I strongly recommend that you purchase a copy of the guidebook and or one piece of climbing equipment even if you are here for a day. Buying the guidebook and or equipment will help stimulate the local climbing culture. Climbing gear here is limited but I believe that if sales of it pick up so will the supply.
Above is the Guide Book it contains great directions and information. The website has information left out of the book as well as topos, the FA list, mini guidebooks. The guidebook is Maintained by the Famous Toby Foord-Kelcy.
Toby is an excellent climber and worked herd to put the book together. If you venture to the UAE please seek out and purchase his book to help support climbing in the UAE. I am told that he uses some of the proceeds to maintain climbing areas and routes in the UAE.
Above are forums where you can meet other climbers as well as find topos and other area and route information.
Above are web pages to find other area and route information.
The links above offer classes, guide services and outdoor equipment. Global Climbing is a very established well known company that supplies equipment to several retail shops. They are also responsible for many great routes and information.
Rahhalah is a company based in Dubai that offers excellent trips to places like Nepal, Kenya, Malaysia, Iran, Tanzania... The name is rooted back in history when Arabs ruled one of the largest stretches of land in the old world. They traveled, explored and reached lands that were only known to their native inhabitants, with them, they carried, new religious beliefs, social systems, language and prosperity to name few. Traveling was a way of life to many and a holy duty to others. It involved courage, a yearning to learn and a strong will to educate. As decades passed, those who crossed all these borders were known as Rahhalahs, a term that translates to English as those who are always on the move to explore. We at Rahhalah, have solid commitment to revive the spirit of our old Rahhalahs and a promise to pursue their adventures and endeavors in a professional and responsible way.
Part of the UAE 2010-2011 travel blog