6-8 January 2011

With another Austrian climber / caver in the country for a week, it was mandatory to head to the mountains in the Northern Emirates for a few days in search for new caves and to explore some exiting climbing routes in the area.
After he managed to get through Dubai airport passport control with an Israeli stamp in the passport, we headed towards Tawian and set up camp on a little hill in the wadi just after midnight.

Rule#1: Always make sure your car matches the 29 Dirham tent 😉

Woken up by loud “thunder” the next morning, it turned out that work in the local quarries starts really early! So we escaped to the quiet heights of Jebel Ybir (or at least as far as you are allowed to drive up the road) to get a good overview of the area and start our search for caves – but instead we saw a Russian (?) hiker running arm-waving towards our car – after finding the top of the mountain occupied by a radar station she just wanted to get alternative hiking suggestions…
Road to Jebel Ybir

Half way back down the mountain we found the first little cave, a 10m long, 15x1m wide gap between two layers of rock. At least easy to survey!
First Cave!

Rule#2: Always park your car in the shade and in walking distance from your cave!
Looking back down

Back down in the wadi, it was time to test some climbing routes and get used to the local rocks.
Tawian CragTawian Crag
 Tawian Crag  Tawian Crag

On the way to the cliff we had already seen numerous little caves, but we also spotted a larger hole not far away. So when we got tired enough from climbing, we had a quick look around this scary cave:

Large Cave Entrance

Actually not that scary – but hotter than outside and a bit smelly thanks to goats and bats…

Large Cave
As we were running out of time we had to return to the car and get on the road towards Wadi Bih to meet more climbers.
Offroad Driving!

The next day nothing could hold us back from climbing the nearest rocks!
On the Rocks

No, not just these little ones, real rocks! There are some really nice trad climbs here, so we found plenty of entertainment. Although another rope would have helped to get more people up!

Sentinel Peak - West Face

Can you spot the three climbers in the photo above?

View from Sentinel Peak
Half Way
The views of the wadi and the surrounding mountains were amazing – in the back passing the red and white mobile phone tower you can just about see the road to Wadi Bih – and temperatures in the low twenties were just perfect. This obviously put a very BIG smile on some peoples face 😉

Two ThirdsTom following

Almost there!

Three Monkeys

Looks like three monkeys at the top…
But we also had more unusual visitors. It was a bit of a surprise finding someone wearing the same brown colors that day – this praying mantis just didn´t want to leave again!

Unusual Visitors
A few shorter climbs to finish off
We finished the day with a few shorter climbs. This area had generally quite good rock, not as sharp as what we had encountered before at Wonderwall and other places, but you always have to be aware of loose rocks – helmets are definitely recommended!

Reinhard in action

Three of us then continued our journey further north. After an adventurous search for a supermarket, we restocked our cooling box with deliciously marinated chicken cubes and finally set up camp in Wadi Litibah after darkness, without seeing the surrounding mountains. Tired and full after a decent BBQ, we went to bed soon.
The last words heard from this nicely lit tent were “I definitely need a pedicure!” ?!? Maybe strange nightmares? Better don’t ask…

I need a pedicure!

The next morning, we were overwhelmed by the stunning mountain scenery. We started heading up the wadi, deliberately staying away from the small path to check access to some caves.

Wadi Litibah

Huge conglomerate terraces, eroded on their sides by infrequent floods, are clear evidence of the natural forces which created this stunning landscape.

Conglomerate Terrace
As we didn’t manage to find an accessible climbing route to the caves, we went back down into the wadi. A short drop can’t stop you when you have a rope….
Did you know that all these limestone rocks were created under water?
That’s why you can find some nice big fossils here:


At the end of the wadi a deserted settlement clings on to the rocks on one side.


The reason for it being there hides a few minutes climbing further on – even after months without rain, you can find some water here!

Up the Waterfall
This end of the wadi is also the main junction for the “Stairways to Heaven” roundtrip – you go up on the boulder slope on one side and – if you are lucky enough to find the way – come down in the canyon pictured here. It’s really fun to explore, even if you just climb up a little bit, with loads of huge boulders, plenty of rocks to climb on, and you are in shade for most of the time.


If you get tired, just find a spot to relax…

Tom playing Gecko

There was definitely something about matching colors on this trip!



< Jebel Khawr & Wadi Damm   Caves in the Hajar Mountains>

3 Responses to “On & In the Mountains of RAK and Fujairah”

  1. Tara said

    wow.. loved the account of your trip. I am not an experienced hiker and hvnt tried the ropes and such adventures but if i were to trek n hike on foot, is there anyway i can get a map of simpler route?

    • adalpine said

      there are a few books about hiking in the UAE and Oman, and also the explorer offroad books give you ideas of a few easy hikes…
      The main issue is that there are no marked trails in the UAE (there are a few in Oman), so it’s sometimes tricky to find your way.

  2. Christina said

    I’m happy to found so interesting information about climbing, trekking, hiking in the UAE. Lovely pictures too, guys. Will follow your site for more activities and if you decide one day to marks some trails in the UAE I will be glad to help you with the hard work, because do not know any mountain track in the country yet but love the mountaineering a lot.

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