TOPO Climbing

Wonderwall, Al Ain

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Départ Shard of Narsil (6c)

A super wall, as the name suggests, with very wide vertical rock faces, bumpy and with holes in places, in very abrasive slab with sharp scales. This climbing area is one of the closest to Dubai or Abu Dhabi and is on the Oman side, behind the town of Buraimi, on the border with Al Ayn. Lots of equipped routes, adventure terrain too, from IV to 7b, so accessible to all. There's even bouldering and a few 2-pitch routes. Nearby, 2 other recent sectors: Shark Fin and Wadi Donk, but with fewer routes and a higher level. It's easy to camp at the foot of the walls, with golden spots in the hollows of the few dunes licking the bottom of the rock. The wall is well shaded from mid-day onwards and, a little higher up, you can climb with an impressive view of the desert valley leading up to it.

Technical summary

Access to the place

Access has changed since the border posts changed the rules of the game. The Wonderwall is technically in Oman, just over the border with the Emirates at Al Ain and, unlike before, passports now have to be stamped to officially leave the country. (A route via the north and Hatta is apparently possible to avoid formalities, but has not been tried). The best thing to do from Al Ain is to aim for the Khatam Al Shakla border post. Then, at the roundabout, take the road on the right towards Hafit for about 17 km before turning right to join a parallel road for trucks. A little further on, take the track on the left (2 boulders on the ground mark the entrance) and follow it over a mini pass, continuing to reach the Wonderwall, which you can see in the distance. Pass alongside the village to reach the sand tongues at the foot of the walls and park.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 10' à 15'

This can be done on sight over rocks and boulders to reach the foot of the walls, or by climbing a 1st floor, depending on the sector.

Course Les voies

Wonderwall's sport routes are all very well equipped, and the belays are equipped for abseiling. The Wonderwall route descriptions are detailed in the UAE guidebook (2009) and the new routes are available on the Elstyx website. The sub-sectors below are presented from left to right (south to north), and the routes by sub-sector are also presented from left to right, except for the bouldering zones at the very bottom of the article. Only climbed routes are described. On the whole, the climbs given in the UAE topo guides or updates are accurate, but on a few routes we've re-quoted (often to within a 1/2 level).





QUEEN OF SHEBA AND CENTRAL WALL

Large, vertical wall with scales and hyperabrasive rock.


Guronsan (20m, 6c+, 7 quickdraws)

Very hard on the first 3 bolts: sharp half-fingernail-wide rulers, tiny foot, single-finger, in short quite complicated. The rest is a little more accessible, but demanding right to the end.


Glucosamine (18m, 7a)

A rocky start for the first nail and a second impossible step (?) to reach the second. The rest is fine and hard on the fingers.


Exile (18m, 7a)


On the central wall. First pitch only (2nd in 7b). A small overhang to reach the slab. Then it's very fine, with scrapes and sharp scales. Great continuity.





SWISS CHEESE AND UPPER CENTRAL WALL


Solstice Delirium (18m, 6a+)

Invigorating start with a recovery step. The rest is vertical but good holds. Distant nails.


High Rise (45m, V)

Well equipped with 3 short pitches, but L1 and L2 can be done at once. Great for warm-up.


Zoot Allures (25m, 6c)

Very nice, varied route, but the 3rd nail is too high for my taste.





THE OBELIX AND BELOW

The Obelisk sector, upper part, can be reached by climbing one of the lower routes to access the ledge.


IV+ route (20m), easy and very well equipped, which is rare. Good for beginners or for gently getting back in touch with the rock. Another V route next door, not tried (same belay).


Arabian Knight (25m, 6a+)


A little lower on the right. Very original, diagonal. Interesting and very well equipped.


Sheherazade (25m, 6a)


Almost below Obelisk. Very pretty, fine, continuous route. Pleasant climb. Enables you to finish at the foot of the Obelisk (one nail above the belay).


Border Patrol (25m, 7a, 8 quickdraws)

First 4 very hard nails, round holds, no rest possible, really hard. The rest of the route to the hole is difficult but accessible. The final climb out is not so hard, but it's better to have a good rest first...


Check Point (22m, 6c, 10 quickdraws)

On the Obelisk. Nice athletic route, but accessible for the level. Save your energy for the exit from the hole and the final climb on picots!





ALADDIN'S LAMP

Triangular lower section in the shape of a magic lamp (?). For a complete guide, see the Elstyx PDF guide.


The Djinn (17m, V+ then 25m,6a+)

Can be done in 1 pitch (20 quickdraws), perfect warm-up. The V+ is fine up to the hole in belay 1. After that, L2 in 6a+ is very good, really sustained in the level with a recovery step to get out of the hole and then a very vertical climb.


Relentless (35m, 6a)

The top of the sector. Very well equipped, aerial, homogeneous and varied route. Really nice climbing.


In Search of Oil and Sand (35m, 6a)

Beautiful route. An awkward step and exit at 2/3.


Redemption (35m, V+)

A nice, not so easy route that could also be worth a 6a for continuity. You can use the previous route's belay if you're climbing with a 60m.


E.O.C (30m, V+)

In my opinion, this is worth a V+ rather than a V, given its length and one or two tricky pitches, particularly in the final dihedral.





SPAGHETTI WESTERN

A very flat wall with fine scales, very abrasive.


Paint your Wagon (15m, IV+)

A short, introductory route. Great for warming up gently.


A fist full of Hangers (25m, V+)

Nice slab, thinner and more sustained.


The good, The Bad and The Bolted (15m, V+)

Same as above. Good slab, fine climbing.


For a Few Hangers more (25m, 6a)

A bouldering step at the end of the pitch, athletic with a small overhang.





MORDOR AND GONDOR


Uruk-Hai Overhang (20m, 6b+/6c)

An easy slab with just one finer step at the top under the overhang. The well-equipped finish is invigorating with some fine holds. The exit is the most tricky, with sharp picks!


Witch King (25m, 6a)

Over-equipped route (13 points!). Fine climbing on very sticky rock with small blades and a few finger holes.


Senil Deliquent (25m, 6a)

Very well equipped here too (13 or 14 nails). An athletic pitch at the start but not so hard, an easier middle section and the small final roof with a sporty but well-protected recovery.


Shards of Narsil (15m, 6c)

1 big bouldering pitch at the start, very difficult (even more so for smaller climbers). The rest of the ascent remains athletic, leading to an easier spiked slab.





GOOD MORNING BLOCK

Routes from left to right. The routes on the topo guide do not necessarily correspond.


Freshy Squeezed Armpit Juices (6m, 6a)

Difficult start with 2 sharp holes (but was it the start of 6b?) and finish on round tafoni.


Liquidizer (6m, 6b)

A series of very athletic movements on a slight slope.


Dicer (6m, 6b+)

A bouldering step at the start on mini holds (do you have to go lower under the rock, but then much harder). The rest of the route is similar to the one next to it.

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