A new era has begun in Oman. Two weeks ago, Sultan Qabus bin Said al Said died of cancer at the age of 79. For almost half a century, the monarch had led the country on the Arabian Peninsula into the modern age as absolute ruler with a steady hand: Qabus invested primarily in education, infrastructure and tourism. “As a traveler, you experience an open country, a high degree of hospitality and a feeling of security,” writes the 51-year-old German top climber Alexander Huber.
The younger of the two Huber brothers went climbing in the desert state in December with the Canadian Read McAdam and the Austrians Guido Unterwurzacher and Jakob Oberhauser. Their destination: the famous Majlis al-Jinn cave. The dome-shaped rock hall, one of the largest in the world with 61,000 square metres of floor space, is connected to the outside by three holes in its ceiling. The quartet wanted to open a new route through the second hole.
Loose pile of rubble
Oberhauser, a renowned Oman expert, has been trying to get a permit for three years. Now the time has come. The four climbers have to hurry, the permit is only valid for two days. “Because of the lack of erosion by wind and water, even a rock surface that seems to be solid turn out to be just a loose pile of rubble,” Alexander describes climbing in the cave. “It simply takes a lot of work and patience to replace this lack of erosion by clearing away the debris until you finally hit the solid rock underneath. Plaisir climbing looks different.” Huber und Co. succeed in climbing the new route “Out of the Dark” within the given time limit of two days.
Through the dark tunnel
Since they still have time left, they climb a second route in a neighbouring cave, which ends in a dark tunnel that goes up vertically. The quartet names the route “Tunnel Vision” – the “appropriate name for something I have never seen anywhere else. A journey into another world,” writes Huber.
After these cave adventures the climbers have four days left to let off steam in the mountains of Oman. The yield: new routes in the Wadi Tiwi, the “Valley of a Thousand Palms”, and on the about 2,700-meter-high Jebel Kawr. Alexander Huber draws a satisfied balance of the Oman trip: “Ten days, two caves, two walls, four first ascents, 33 pitches, friends and friendly hosts. It was worth the journey!”