Americans Climb Big Route in Oman


Zoe Hart begins the upper third of Cracker Pterodactyl 5000 (VI 5.10+) on Jebel Misht in Oman. The four-person American team bivied on a large ledge system two-thirds of the way up the 900-meter wall. Photo by Jonathan Thesenga.

Jebel Misht in the mist—or, rather, in the desert haze. Photo by Jonathan Thesenga.

Four Americans climbed a new route on the 900-meter south face of Jebel Misht, the enormous limestone wall in Oman, at the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Climbing in separate pairs, Brittany Griffith and Zoe Hart, and John Dickey and Jonathan Thesenga, led Cracker Pterodactyl 5000 (VI 5.10+) ground-up, following corners, ramps, and cracks up the heavily featured wall. They climbed onsight and used no bolts or pitons, the preferred style for the large majority of routes on the desert face. The route may sharesome ground with Paradies der Fakir (Oberhauser-Jochler, 2003), but itappears to be mostly independent.

The team completed the route in a day and a half, finding superb mountain limestone in the lower two-thirds and some lower-quality and run-out rock near the top. They bivied on a large ledge system two-thirds of the way up the wall, and then topped out around 1 p.m. the following day. After a brutal 1,500-meter descent of the peak’s north face, they were fortunate to quickly catch a ride and avoid the 25-kilometer hike back to their campsite.

Griffith said the people in Oman were “amazing—extremely giving, honest, and welcoming” and that “the terrain around Misht is a Mars-scape of red-rock desert.” Although the six-kilometer-wide face of Jebel Misht has several dozenroutes, the Americans said there are “countless corner and ramp systems on the wall that will go free in the sub-5.11 range.” The biggest downside to the climbing is the heat—the team endured blazing sun and temperatures around 85°F during their mid-February climb. Even the north-facing descent was in the sun.

The line of  the new route Cracker Pterodactyl 5000. A pair of Slovenian climbers established a new route to the right of this line in late January. Photo by Jonathan Thesenga.

The Americans saw no other climbers at Jebel Misht during their visit, but this has been a big year for new routes in Oman, with several foreign teams visiting during late December and January. See Dolomites of the Desert for a run-down of the new climbs.

Date of Ascent: February 2008

Source: Jonathan Thesenga, Brittany Griffith

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