TOPO Via ferrata

Snake Canyon, Jebel Akhdar

Topo published on |

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At the end of the Wadi Bani Awf, just before reaching the magnificent little village of Balad Seet, in the heart of the Jebel Shams, is the Snake Canyon via ferrata. Impeccably equipped for all levels, this route is well worth the detour, if only for the fantastic setting. 4 large, very aerial zip lines, an equally impressive final monkey bridge, technical and physical traverses and de-escalations, all with 100m of empty space. Unfortunately, the ferrata has been dismantled at the start of the 1st and 4th zip lines! It is unfortunately not feasible at present (as of March 1, 2016).

Technical summary

Type ✦ Via Ferrata
Location ✦ Bilad Seet
Region ✦ South Batina, West Hajar
Country ✦ Oman
Height difference ✦ 80m
Direction ✦ South
Difficulty ✦ K3
Duration ✦ 2h to 3h
Interest ✦ ★★★

Access to the place

See the 2 maps and precise directions on the original topo by Bill Huguelet and Kim Vaughn. The finish via Wadi Bani Awf is easier, with less track and, above all, less dangerous. The finish via the pass from Al Hamra is superb, with breathtaking views over Jebel Shams, but very steep and impressive. In all cases, a 4×4 is essential. Park at the white and red pylon (unmissable, see map on doc).

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 20'

Descend, joining the edge on the right. You'll soon see the 1st zip line. Improvise a passage through the rocks (beware of a slightly exposed descent). A series of cables leads back to the start of the 1st zip line.

Course 1h30 à 2h

The Snake Canyon ferrata is perfectly equipped from end to end, with an impeccable lifeline and numerous points, some of which can be used for abseiling. You may need a 50m rope to help you at the end of the 1st Tyrolean traverse (otherwise you'll have to haul about 10m), and gloves won't go amiss. Double pulleys a must!

1st Tyrolean traverse

The longest and, as it's the 1st, the most impressive! Then a traverse on the side, slightly overhanging in places, with the cable and rock for your feet. Quite physical, but very beautiful.
2nd zip line

Short and well-balanced, you arrive with your back to the wall. The transition to the 3rd is easier, with an aerial traverse but no real difficulties. A bit of climbing at the end to reach the start of the zip line.
3rd zip line

Equal to the second, short and fast. The section that follows is long, with a nice, slightly technical descent to the bottom of the canyon, before climbing back up through a natural porch (little monkey waiting for you). A vertical wall leads to the 4th zip line.
4th zip line

This is a very comfortable start, so you can start off happily. The next transition is a traverse before heading up the cliff. There are a few more technical and aerial passages. Climb to the final platform.
The monkey bridge (or 5th zip line)

It's simple: walk like a crab or head-on (more fun) like a tightrope walker, holding the upper cable (phew!). It's a great feeling, as you can see your shadow rising from the bottom and slowly approaching the opposite wall. Then follow the lifeline on the ledge before climbing the final small rung section to exit onto the plateau.

Back

Cross the plateau and climb up towards the track to reach the starting pylon.

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