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Thunder Canyon, Wadi Shah

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As the weather is more pleasant, we return to wadi Shah to pass Thunder Canyon again and take a few more precise notes for the topo. It's a fine approach, admittedly physical, but one that enables us to gain height quickly and dominate the wadi and beyond. The descent of the canyon presents no difficulty apart from the impressive, aerial 1st abseil and a few jumps to unclimb. Fairly open, the route crosses a first large cirque before narrowing a little for a series of waterfalls interspersed with a passage through a chaos of huge boulders that clutter up the torrent bed. The route is obvious, even if in the chaos you sometimes have to look for the best option. No escape all the way. Note that the R3 and R5 cascades are now equipped with sport climbing routes, with trad climbing on R5 and sport climbing on R3.

Technical summary

Location ✦ Wadi Shah
Region ✦ Ras Al Khaimah
Country ✦ United Arab Emirates
Type ✦ Dry canyon
Vertical rise ✦ 200m
Difficulty ✦ v4-a1-III
Max abseil ✦ 55m
Duration ✦ 4h to 5h

Access to the place

From Ras El Khaimah, head for the entrance to Wadi Bih before turning left into Wadi Shah. Further on, the wadi starts on the left at the following points: 25°51'47.46″N 56°05'51.39″E

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h à 1h15

Not an easy task. Basically, you have to find an absolutely unmarked path up to the first plateau on the opposite side. Then continue along the ridges, sometimes skirting around to the right, climbing 2 or 3 times over slightly exposed III or IV boulders to finally reach the small plateau at the very top bordering the canyon. Once you reach the edge of the plateau, follow the canyon entrance to the right, in the shape of a large cirque, to reach the bed of the old water passage. You then come to the 1st large waterfall with the 1st belay. A few cairns along the way, but difficult to see in all this rocky terrain!

Course 3h à 3h30

The canyon is exposed East, North-East and has 5 abseils (55m, 20m, 35m, 30m, 10m). The GPS starting point is 25°51'46.15″N and 56°05'30.93″E. All belays are fully equipped.

Rappel 1 (55m)

Impressive, on the edge of a wide cirque. The finale is a spider's thread.
Rappel 2 (20m)

On the left. Easier to get over an overhang.
Rappel 3 (35m)

Installed on the left. Quite airy here too. Before joining abseil 4, there are a series of jumps to de-climb, including one above a pot, which is quite exposed and impressive, but not too difficult in the end.
Abseil 4 (30m)

Also on the left. Aerial start in a small cirque.
Rappel 5 (10m)

Can be unclimbed with no problem.


We emerge at road level, just a little higher than the parking lot.

Map & topo



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