Acknowledgement : I wrote this article for OURDOOR UAE magazine October 2015 issue, thanks a lot to Molly Loomis for her article in Climbing Magazine #291 (Jan 2011) for her article “Diamonds in the Dust” about climbing in Oman, which inspires me.
THE CUBE – RAK VEGAS
It was one of the sunny Fridays. Two of Bouldering aficionados are back to RAK in the middle of this September. What brought us here is “THE CUBE” a boulder that UAE forgot, a rectangular hut size rock in Wadi Shahah. Juxtaposition of Ras Al Kamiah’s Hajar Mountain Range in the background with this standalone boulder in the field, its texture and contrast never fail to attract us. Of course it is hot out there.
How to escape heat in the summer? The simple answer is “Don’t go out” just stay inside fully air conditioned offices and flats and often cars. But Can we really can spend our life in this shite, really?
Escaping intense heat by climbing in indoor gyms is fair enough in UAE summer, right. It is a way to get ready for the coming up winter climbing season to do training and stuffs too. Climbing outdoor in the middle of September is complex psych of thirst for being expose with earth, dust and humid winds and some add on stupidity. We have to brave enough to go out. Well, this made us to go climb a rock. We already are acclimatizing well with UAE summers. We were here at “The Cube” last year too, it was me and our friend, Emirati climber “Saif”, along with Harold marking 14 year old kid’s first outdoor trip in UAE. Harold’s family moved to UAE last year from Singapore where Harold made himself a Champion in Junior Bouldering Comp in Singapore. Kiwi-French youngster Harold is not only talented bouldering problem solver also having a climbing spirit in his blood.
This time of year, only I and Harold back towards RAK to repeat “The Cube”, hugging and chilling around by eating some chalk. Our crash pafs are our prayer mats to worship this Earth Wonder “ The Cube”. Some quiz of this obvious rectangular giant rock host us very well.
We didn’t see any chalkdust on boulder and boot marking around it, assuming no one has ever come back to hug this rocks since we did last year. We’re not surprise; “The Cube” is neither popular nor on top list for outdoor climbers. Lack of interest in bouldering, or considering it is too easy comparing with rope involve type of Sport or Trad, or lack of good spotting buddies and no crash pad, making “The Cube” a low profile boulder. Actually “The Cube” is just nearby some of the popular road side crags of RAK VEGAS (what climbers usually nick name Ral Al Khaimah as of its rich crags for climbing as RAK-Vegas ). Opposite on the other side of the road to the cube is Cleavage area for some of the busy sport routes. To the same side of the cube is Hajar Mountains “Dickinadozer” area where lots of Multi pitch sport and trad lines including Kharzang 90m 3 pitch bolted route we climbed last year.
We hit there by 10am. Keep ourselves hydrate is key in this heat. We laid out our crash pads and stretch. Harold warm-up on V1 the flake first. Whenever we get our toes into our s climbing shoes, feeling like skins are literally burning. It doesn’t really describes the actual suffering of my yet tiptoes. It’s way hotter. Sit back and chill while hydrating is another good part of the game too. Some breeze whispers our faces and we call it lucky moments to it. THE CUBE – RAK, is boast its feature stood by its name, 3 side climbing surfaces, with another face with a ledge like formation for easier descending off from the top of the boulder. After each climb on a particular bouldering problem, We downclimb. Or there’s a bolt on flat roof top of boulder for you to equip with ropes to rappel down.
We had two crashpads which often use as our comforter during rest. Working again on Mike’s problem V4 was 11 am alreadty under naked sun of its face. Rock is hot, wind is hot and everything HOT. This is not a very good day. “Dude!, my toes are Burning” , Harold said. He’s right, both of us suffer and we thougt it’s time to pack up.
“Weather is scorching hot, but it was awesome dude!” Harold said it out loud.
We then throwback some of our stories and sharing good vibes while rest. It’s one of the “Climbing” magazines of late 2010 is what brought me to UAE. There is an article about climbing in Arabian Peninsula “Diamond in the Dust “wrote by Molly Loomis. It describes Oman rock climbing; its Limestone rock, deserts dunes and sound of the ocean are which supported my decision to move to Dubai for work. In my early days of UAE, I did Buildering around Abu Dhabi and I was almost arrested by police (yes Buildering is climbing the building, making moves on any climbable manmade structures). Then I was inspired by Abu Dhabi climbers like Toby and Dave who welcomes to their home boulder wall to train. Nowadays, outdoor Bouldering in UAE seems getting grown from one dedicated boulder gym Rock Republic meeting folks with same interests. Whilst outdoor blunderers are still rare.
Harold is pretty positive about finding more boulders in RAK, he said “unknown routes, plenty to discover i think!”
He is right, some of them has been discovered yet such as in RAK, Red Wall boulder field which need an hour 4×4 heavy drive plus another hour hike approach makes those boulders more isolated. Even “The Cube” is least climb, classic Bouldering problem in UAE which is just an hour drive from Dubai airport.
UAE still has huge potential to develop Bouldering in the region, so much more to discover.
Go Climb a Rock folks.