In January 2009 Olivier Cantet, Régine Lemaire, and Emmanuel Ratouis put up five new routes, and made two new canyon descents, in various parts of Oman.
They first visited Tahab Canyon in the northeast of the country. Access is via the road to the coastal town of Fins. Just before Tiwi when coming from Qurayyat, leave the road and follow a piste across the Salmah Plateau toward Qurran. After 5.7km there is a piste on the left, which stops after 250m. This is a good bivouac spot. From here it is an awkward descent via an old Bedouin route into the canyon. On the 9th Lemaire and Ratouis put up the 200m Pancréatite Aigue, a fine route on excellent rock with an airy fifth pitch, traversing left above overhangs. The route is equipped and has six pitches (5b, 5a, 5a, 5c, 6a, and 5c), followed by 80m of 3+ to the top.
The team returned on the 18th, and all three climbers added Sans Foie, ni rate (280m), another fine climb on excellent rock, save for the start of the seventh pitch. Anchors are equipped for a rappel descent, a set of Friends is necessary, and the pitch grades are: 4c, 5b, 5a, 5a, 5a, 6a+, 5b, 6b, and 5a.
On the 13th the three French visited Wadi el Hemia (south of Sint) in the Western Hajar, not far from the well-known Jebel Kawr. The team climbed highly sculptured rock in an area of orange and gray slabs, completing the 180m L’esprit Ludique at 5c obl. Two bolts are visible at the start of the first ropelength, and pitch grades are 5c, 5c/6a, 5b, 5a, and 5a. Belays are equipped for a rappel descent, but it is easily possible to walk off left from the top. Take a good rack of Friends, as there are only a few bolts on each pitch.
On the 16th the team put up En Attendant Allah in Wadi Tiwi, approached from Mibam, again in the northeast of the country. This is a magnificent and varied route on excellent sculptured limestone, with the belays equipped for rappels, and one or two protection bolts per pitch (take full rack of Friends). There are nine pitches: 5c, 5c/6a, 4c, 5a, 5a, 5c, 5c, 4c in a tube then 6b, and 5c. Descend in eight ca 50m rappels.
Further northwest, and close to the border, lies Wadi Surwayh and the natural baths of As Suwayh. After parking in this village, it is a 30-minute walk via the aquaduct to the foot of Révélation (200m, five pitches, 5a, 5b, 5a, 5b, and 5c), put up by all three climbers on the 20th. The last two pitches are simply brilliant. Again, the belays are equipped but only a few protection bolts were placed.
In January 2010 Lamaire, Ratouis, and friends returned, but a serious car accident, which resulted in the vehicle exploding, equipment burnt, and one member seriously injured, curtailed activity. Later, Lemaire and Ratouis were generously lent gear by a British climber, which allowed them to complete one new route (and a new canyon descent). The new route was established in the Cirque d’Umq, 40 minutes approach (including three rappels) from the village of Umq and Al Majin cave, well west of Fins. Together with local Ali (upper pitches only), the two climbed Providence (250m, 10 pitches: 6a, 6b, 5a, 4c, 5b, 3c, 3c, 4c, 4c and 5a; 5c obl.). While not sustained, this is a very worthwhile route on excellent sculptured limestone in a wild cirque, and the first line climbed by Ali.
Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, from information provided by Emmanuel Ratouis