Dolomites of the Desert

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Selected routes on the 900-meter southeast face of Jebel Misht: French Pillar, 5.10, 1979 (red); Make Love Not War, 5.12b sport, 2003 (green); Yel-la Sadik, 5.10, 2008 (white); Shukran, 5.10+, 2006 (purple-red). The south face, with the new routes Flying Pegs and Kabir Hajar, is left of the French Pillar. Photo by Toby Foord-Kelcey.

Selected routes on the 900-meter southeast face of Jebel Misht: French Pillar, 5.10, 1979 (red); Make Love Not War, 5.12b sport, 2003 (green); Yel-la Sadik, 5.10, 2008 (white); Shukran, 5.10+, 2006 (purple-red). The south face, with the new routes Flying Pegs and Kabir Hajar, is left of the French Pillar. Photo by Toby Foord-Kelcey.

Traditional limestone on the new route Kajir Hajar (900m, 5.11c) on Jebel Misht, Oman. Photo courtesy of Dejan Miskovic/Pavle Kozjek.

Traditional limestone on the new route Kajir Hajar (900m, 5.11c) on Jebel Misht, Oman. Photo courtesy of Dejan Miskovic/Pavle Kozjek.

The massive limestone cliffs of Oman on the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula are hot this winter, with many new routes being established. Most recently, Slovenians Dejan Miskovic and Matej Knavs have climbed Kabir Hajar on the 900-meter south face of Jebel Misht, the most famous cliff in Oman. The two Slovenians climbed the route in a 24-hour round trip and no bolts, with climbing up to UIAA VIII- (5.11c).

Earlier last month, Miskovic and Pavle Kozjek established Yel-la Sadik on the southeast face of the Jebel Misht massif, climbing the 900-meter face in just nine and a half hours, with difficulties up to 5.10. The two descended the back side of the massif at night and began the 25-kilometer hike around the mountain, fortunately managing to hitch a ride partway and return to camp after a 20-hour round trip. As with Kabir Hajar, the new route was climbed with no bolts.

Hansjörg Auer climbing the new route Al Hamar (5.13d), likely the hardest climb in Oman. Photo by Heiko Wilhelm, courtesy of Planetmountain.com.

Dolomites of the Desert

At the beginning of the month, Austrian climbers Hansjörg Auer, Jakob Oberhauser, and Thomas Schreiber raced up a seven-hour first ascent of the 16-pitch Flying Pegs (VIII+/5.12a) on the south face of Jebel Misht. The Austrians and their friends also explored other limestone possibilities in the country, including a three-pitch 5.13d called Al Hamar they established in the canyons of the Jebel Sham Plateau, likely creating Oman’s hardest climb.

The climbing potential along the 300-mile chain of the Hajar Mountains is vast. Although much of the limestone is not solid, pockets of excellent rock, including enormous faces like Jebel Misht, have been discovered. A French team climbed the first route on Jebel Misht in 1979, and since then at least a dozen other full-length routes have been climbed. Most of these have been approached as alpine adventures, with minimal fixed gear, but in 2003 a German team established a 5.12 sport route up the face. In December and early January, a team from New Zealand put up seven long, moderate routes on Jebel Misht and other peaks in the area. Sport crags have been developed elsewhere in the country, and even deep-water soloing is being explored.

Nearing the crux on the new route Yel-la Sadik (900m, 5.10). The climbers skirted the roofs to the right via steep slab climbing. Photo courtesy of Pavle Kozejk.

Dolomites of the Desert

Googling “Jebel Misht” or “Oman climbing” will reveal many photos and topos. A guide to the French pillar on Jebel Misht can be found HERE. One excellent local source of information is Omanclimbing.com.

Dates of Ascents: January 2008

Sources: Pavle Kozjek, Planetmountain.com, Alpinist.com, Omanclimbing.com

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