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Waiting for the slow ones, Al Hamra Tower, Oman

Climbing

oman-eng

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3 stars won't be enough for this incredible route on the north face of Al Hamra's east tower! Excellent rock, clever and varied route, great aerial climbing and incredible panorama over the valley and the Jebel Shams massif. What more can I say except that this is one of the region's must-do routes, accessible what's more, and equipped just right for enjoying yourself without (too) much fear. The route is semi-equipped, with some pitches in trad and others equipped on the most difficult passages or the most delicate to protect. Slabs, small overhangs, cracks, tafonis, impressive traverses, it's all there.

dans la L7, final de la voie

Technical summary

Access to the place

Al Hamra is located between Ibri and Nizwa, at the foot of the Jebel Shams on the southern slopes. The town, set in a vast palm grove, is dominated to the south by several towers: east, central and west. Look for the road running along the base of the towers and park to the right of the central tower (GPS N 23°05.046′ E 057°18.079′).

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 45'

From the parking lot, climb diagonally and at sight to reach the base of the central tower (cairns indicate the path at mid-height). Follow the base of the central tower and pass under the col between the east and central towers to finally take an obvious ledge (cairn) which cuts the base of the east tower and leads to the start on the main ridge. 2 cairns more or less in place and a bolt at 5m indicate the start on a long ramp.

Course

The route has a north-easterly exposure and is sunny in the morning for the first 2 pitches, then shaded thereafter. 275m (perhaps a little less) in 7 pitches (25m, 45m, 45m, 45m, 45m, 45m, 25m). Most belays are bolted, and pitches L3, L4, L5, L6 and L7 are semi-equipped on all difficult passages (bolts). Bring a set of friends and stoppers to complete and pass L1 and L2 (easy).


L1 (25m, V)

Short and easy except for a small overhang at the start, not so obvious (and average rock at this point).


L2 (45m, IV)

Climb the steep ramp, superb rock, easy protection to reach the base of the large overhanging boulder on the right.


L3 (45m, V+)

Incredible length! Pass to the right of the overhang for a very aerial ramp with little protection (piton in the middle). At the end, change wall and tackle a magnificent slab with bolt-equipped cracks to reach the R3 belay on the ridge overlooking another face of the rock (small plateau for landing).


L4 (45m, V)

1st traverse of the route. Descend before ascending a small ledge, 100m from the ground. 3 or 4 bolts for protection, 2 tricky de-escalation steps. Nothing nasty, but what an atmosphere!


L5 (45m, V)

Another magnificent pitch. Make a move to the right to enter a tafoni ramp in the form of an aerial tunnel that goes back to the left, exit onto the slab (very aerial) and climb on bolts to reach a small ledge that leads to the right to the R5 belay under a crack.


L6 (45m, V+)

Follow the crack, pass to the right of the large boulder (not V+) and reach a bolt under a wall. Then traverse right horizontally for 20 or 25m, protected by bolts, on thin holds. Great sensations and a few delicate steps. Great! The R6 belay is under the final wall.


L7 (25m, 6a)

The relay exit is protected by 2 bolts for climbing the crack (not 6a only at this point). Higher up, a lunula, leave the crack on the right and climb diagonally left on the beautiful sharp holds, but without any protection! 10m overhead, fall to be avoided (V/V+ max). Exit onto a flat area below the summit, the end of the route.

Back

Go over the second summit or around it to the right (not exposed), then down the south-facing slope (cairns) to quickly reach the pass between the 2 towers. Climb down to the bottom and rejoin the approach path, in the opposite direction.

Map & topo

Photos


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