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Oman Diary

Oman is one of the most beautiful and varied countries in the Middle East offering big, rugged mountains, vast deserts, incredible oases and wild coastlines with excellent diving and bird watching. Full of climbing, trekking, caving, canyoning and safari opportunities. Off road vehicle essential.

We carried out a major project here on behalf of Oman's Tourism Department in 1988, surveying the whole country for Adventure Tourism, in particular, climbing, caving, canyoning, trekking and desert safari.This project was encouraged by Alec MacDonald who was resident in Oman at the time. Gilles Rappeneau, another Omani resident climber also helped.

With us on the n.o.m.a.d.s. team were: Bernard Domenech and Wilf Colonna from France, Verena Jaggin from Switzerland, Mario Verin from Italy, Mike Searle from the UK and British Cavers Paul Seddon and Dave Brooks.

Since this project, adventure tourism in Oman has grown steadily and there are now a number of guide books available:

Guide books All include background info from the original n.o.m.a.d.s. Survey for Adventure Tourism 1988: Rock Climbing in Oman. R.A. McDonald. UK distributor, Cordee. Apex Published 1993. Out of print.

An Introduction to the Caves of Oman. Samir Hanna & Mohammed el-Belushi. Motivate Publishing, 1996.

Adventure Trekking in Oman, Anne Dale & Jerry Hadwin. 2001

Toby Foord-Kelcey has completed a downloadable guide to the classic French route on Jebel Misht and is working on a UAE guidebook. Meanwhile, Jakob Oberhauser has produced a draft of an Oman guidebook which he makes available in Muscat in photocopied form. He can be contacted through omanclimbing.com. There is also an Explorer Trekking Guide and a guide to Muscat Dive & Adventure, and see Alpinist website for climbing info and the 2008 Alpine Journal for Paul Knott's article on Rock Vultures in Arabia and new climbs in the Jebel Misht area.
The UAE Rock Climbing Guide by Toby Foord-Kelsey was published Dec 2009 with 184 pages of routes, bouldering, DWS and big wall. Looks excellent! Published by Red Armada, Canada, and distributed in UK by Cordee.

2018 See new climbing guidebook

More climbing, trekking, caving & canyoning info.

North to south:

The Musandam Peninsula. Separated from Oman proper by the Emirates. This is a wild and spectacular region, home of the Shihuh tribe who live in the high mountains. Surveyed by n.o.m.a.d.s. in the 1980s. Big climbs now being developed here by Geoff Hornby and others. Also routes in the canyons on both sides of the Musandam / Emirates border. Sea cliffs also offer potential, with access by boat. Possible trekking between Shihuh villages.

Western Hajar area. Some routes on the 1000m walls of Jebel Misht in Alec's guide. Nearby Jebel Kawr also now being developed, also the many possibilities in the huge Akhdar Massif. Excellent trekking in this area. Again, Geoff Hornby has collated some info on developments; see his Report on Oman 2002. There are also castles, canyoning and caving in this massif - the Canyon of Wadi Beni Awf and the Hoti Cave system are particularly spectacular with lots of swimming. Beware of flash floods! We were informed in July 2004 that the lower entrance to Hoti is going to become a show cave: lots of stals and a unique species of blind fish.

Capital and Eastern Hajar areas. Less climbing here than in the western ranges, but good short (1 - 200m) routes in some of the canyons, even close to Muscat (Wadi Aday). The spectacular sink hole of Majlis al Djinn is in this massif and there are some beautiful treks over the mountains from the east coast oases, such as Tiwi.

The Deserts. Wahiba Sands and the remote east coast offer great camel and 4WD safari opportunities. Even more well known is the vast Empty Quarter or Rub al Khali, scene of Wilfred Thesiger's 'Arabian Sands', one of the great books of desert exploration and Bedouin life. Between the two is the long and lonely desert highway heading to Salalah on the south coast.

The South. The south offers different terrain to the rest of Oman, catching the edge of the monsoon and offering a seasonal resort in the rain giving respite for sun-soaked Saudi Arabians! From a base in Salalah, the mountain ridge of Jebel Samhan offers trekking opportunities and superb coastal views. The giant gaping sink hole of Tawi Attair and other caves are also nearby and the coast itself is excellent and may have climbing potential.

Oman & The Emirates - an update
2005 The nearby Arab Emirates (adjacent to Oman's Musandam Peninsula) are opening up for climbing with a lot of development by John Gregory and friends. See the 2004 Alpine Journal and CLIMB magazine, Feb 05 for further info. Around twenty new routes a year are being climbed in Oman.
2007 Toby Foord-Kelcey is a regular in the Emirates and Oman. Check out his UAE and Oman website , also see UAE guide below.
Martin Zimmer writes "Oman has jaw-dropping amounts of rock, both up in Musandam by the Gulf and in the main part of the Hajar mountains closer to Muscat. A large number of multi-pitch trad routes have been done but are poorly documented. Geoff Hornby in the UK maintains a collection of paper topos that he can supply copies of for a small charity donation. The out of date McDonald 'Climbing in Oman' guide also has details for some of the older trad routes, notably the classic 1200m French Pillar of Jebel Misht, the 'Nose' of the region. The more recent sport climbing is better documented. I have put together a web page that summarises the scope with links to topos on the Foord-Kelcey website". See above. He adds,"In Musandum a number of us have started taking an interest in DWS routes, some photos. Note that the distinction between Oman and UAE climbing is quite blurry. Both areas fairly accessible to each other and topography similar." Contact Marvin Zimmer and see UAE guide below.
2008 Useful link for travel arrangements: the Muscat Dive & Adventure Centre and click here for route info. Also see the 2008 Alpine Journal for Paul Knott's article on Rock Vultures in Arabia and new climbs in the Misht area.
2009 The UAE Rock Climbing Guide by Toby Foord-Kelsey was published with 184 pages of routes, bouldering, DWS and big wall. Looks excellent! Published by Red Armada, Canada, and distributed in UK by Cordee.