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Wheels of Steel, Ras Al Khaimat, Emirates



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Another foray into this magnificent wadi north of Ras AL Khaimah, just before the border with Musandam. Today's special: a long route in the Shady Circus, the main area of the area. We decided on the leftmost route, not too long, not too hard, just for a little (and eternal!) reprise. The weather was grey, almost rainy but mild, and in the end ideal for climbing at this time of year. We followed the guide's instructions, but after the first 2 pitches, we may have forked off onto the next route, or taken an in-between route, which is more likely. The route is entirely in adventure terrain, with no equipment in place, fairly easy belays to climb and no major difficulties, apart from L3, which is a little more vertical and involved. The rock is generally good, although the route could do with a little cleaning up, which we did by climbing second. A great outing to celebrate spring!

Sommet de la voie

Technical summary

Access to the place

From RAK, take the coastal road up towards the border with Oman. Past the inevitable (and horrifying) cement factory, turn right onto a road signposted "Wadi Ghalilah", which you must follow for a few minutes before finding a road that leads off to the right towards the dam painted in the UAE colors. After crossing the dam, take the gravel track on the left, this time in the bed of the Wadi Litibah. Go up a few hundred metres to reach the Shady Circus on the right, easily identifiable with the waterfall in the center. Look for a parking space on the side.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 5'

Very fast. Go straight ahead on sight towards the foot of the track, on the right-hand side of the cirque, just above 2 characteristic trees.


The route is north-facing and about 160m long in 4 pitches (35m, 45m, 40m, 40m). No equipment in place, but a full set of friends and belayers, possibly doubling up from 0.75 to 3. The maximum level required is V+. It is also described in the UAE climbing guide, page 34, English grade (170m, VS, 4c).

L1 (35m, IV+) start at the base of the tree, on small steps, then pass to the right and reach a second tree higher up in a wide hole. Climb relay R1 preferably on the right, crossing the ridge to anticipate L2.

L2 (45m, V) climb the dihedral, then continue over ledges and small walls. No difficulty and reach the 3rd tree, in a dihedral, to the left of a roof (visible when climbing). R2 climbed up the tree.

L3 (40m, V+) exit at the top of the dihedral and cross a little to the left to climb a nice crack and a second dihedral ending in a mini roof. Just before the roof, take a step to the right to tackle a small wall with lips. Exit onto a flat area and take a second wall on the right. R3 to the right of a fairly wide ledge.

L4 (40m, V) cross to the right, descend a little to attack a vertical crack that is easy to pass. Then continue upwards. At a flat spot, take a small step to tackle the last small dihedral leading to the exit ledge (far from the summit!).


From R4, follow the path to the left. Stay level, climb a little at times, follow until you find a waterfall that forms a descent gully. Climb the steps and ledges without difficulty, finishing by cutting off to the left (small step). Finish in the right-hand gully to the ground (20′ from the top of the route). Walk back to the parking lot (10′).

Map & topo



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