TOPO Climbing

La Snifonie, Wadi Tiwi, Oman

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Arrivée au R7, 300m du sol

Just above Sur, on Oman's north-eastern coast, lies the small village of Tiwi on the edge of the Gulf. This is the exit point of the fantastic Tiwi wadi, which descends from the heights of Jebel Hajar. Following the trail for ten kilometers or so, we reach the last village, Mibam, the starting point for most of the major routes in the area. The walls here are between 350 and 500m high. The atmosphere is extra-ordinary, with quality rock and committed climbing on adventure terrain. To discover the area, we set off on one of the most accessible routes: the Snifonie, 360m, 8 pitches, generally in the V, with only 3 or 4 pitons left by previous rope parties. The route is fairly easy to find, except on the last 2 pitches where the passage to the summit is not obvious. A grandiose atmosphere, 6 to 7 hours of climbing with the wadi and its pools of green water below us, and the Gulf of Oman in our sights. An outing with 300m of more than aerial abseiling on lunulas and you have an idea of the mega day in question. Not to mention a return trip at night to get lost in the scree and palm groves. Great experience, unique place.

Technical summary

Access to the place

Take the freeway from Muscat to Sur via Quriyat (route 17). Exit at the village of Tiwi and, before entering the village, head for the W35 trek (obvious pass under the 4-lane bridge). The road soon becomes a track. It's about 10km to the last village of Mibam. The road climbs steeply in places, and some passages are very narrow, but overall it's not difficult (4×4 strongly recommended). A little before the village, as you descend to the left, you'll find a small terrace where you can bivouac.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h15

Cross Mibam and look for a path that will take you up the wadi, staying on the right-hand side (not easy as there are several routes). Stay high if possible. The large walls on the opposite side are easy to spot. Then, at the level of a large cave on the right-hand side, cross the wadi (or a little before) and climb the left-hand side to reach the foot of the routes. The start of the Snifonie is at the foot of a dihedral with a small triangular roof at around ten metres and a tree (easy to spot with the topo photo). There's also a white arrow on the rock just to the left of the start pointing to Tafoman L1.

Course

The north-facing route is 360m long and can be climbed in 8 pitches (50m, 35m, 35m, 30m, 60m, 60m, 40m, 50m). Very little equipment in place, a few pitons at the 1st pitch belays, 1 bolt. Bring a full set of friends and jammers, and lanyards to climb lunulas.


L1 (50m, V+)

Dihedral up to the right of the small roof, then straight on. Higher up, fork left under the overhang of round stones to exit onto a ledge. No real difficulty. R1 with 1 piton, comfortable position.


L2 (35m, V)

Follow the dihedral that rises slightly to the right. Pass over the slightly loose rock and finish by traversing over the void to R2, at the foot of a crack. Here 1piton + 1 bolt at the belay, it's party time.


L3 (35m, V)

Follow the crack, a more vertical but easy passage, then enter a dihedral again. Halfway up the dihedral, 1 piton for R3.


L4 (30m, V)

Finish the dihedral and at the end turn right at a hole to join a wide ledge and a wide recess to climb R4, very comfortably and with a view of L5.


L5 (60m, V)

Go to the end of the rope, traverse down a little and then grab the obvious crack that makes a big upward turn. At 3/4, there's also a piton to climb the less comfortable R5 belay.


L6 (60m, V)

Difficult start to protect, continue to follow the upward curve, a new dihedral in the form of a ramp to pass to the left of a large cut boulder. Climb the belay here or a little further on a wide grassy ledge.


L7 (40m, IV+)

Transition to the exit dihedral. Cross almost level. The dihedral is on the far left, at the end of a wide slab. Climb the R7 on a lunula at the foot of the dihedral.


L8 (50m, V)

Big atmosphere. The dihedral goes to the left for a few meters, then right again to the end. Not difficult, but challenging, with some difficult passages to protect and some gas... To get out, look far right for a sort of half chimney with holes. R8 just below the summit.

Back

We'll be rappelling on the Banane and Citron route. To reach the abseiling line, follow the summit ridge to the left and after a small ridge you can clearly see the large cairn indicating the first abseil. Do 5 or 6 abseils between 40 and 50m, not easy because they're not always in line. Difficult if it's dark, so don't look too closely at the installations to avoid getting scared... Once you reach the ground, it's not easy, you have to find a way back to the bed of the wadi. Given that we ended up using headlamps and got lost, I can't say much more than that. But it's long, and not that easy.

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