"take it to a higher level"

Quarried Away: Hatta Crag Disappearing

I used to climb at Hatta Crag regularly; since I started my own projects two years ago I do not head to Hatta Crag climbing too often; however last week I was at there on Wednesday and Saturday. I have been to Hatta one other time this year in June, before this I haven’t been to Hatta Crag since December of last year; prior to December 2012 I was there in September and prior to that it had been almost a year. Each time I head to Hatta Crag I always notice a few things going on and not going on.

Each time I head there I always find more loose bolts. Last Wednesday I found 5 and previous times I have also found loose bolts. This makes me wonder how many climbers are heading to Hatta and climbing on these loose bolts? How long have these bolts been loose? Hatta sees a lot of traffic and yet I have not seen one post or received any messages about loose bolts at Hatta. Every time I am out climbing whether I am bolting or not you will find a wrench in my kit. This is for the reason above. If I happen to be in Hatta I will address any loose bolt issues. Bolts can be tightened; however they can only be tightened so many times, if are loose because of slippage then they need to be replaced.

In the last year I know that there has been at least two new routes bolted in Hatta and I have also heard rumors of a new section being bolted on the far right side(whether it’s true or not I do not know). So this means that veteran climbers with bolting experience and tools have been to Hatta Crag; yet none of them took it upon themselves to do a little route maintenance? In fact two of the loose bolts were on two of the easy top rope routes (next to The Fridge) that were recently bolted for lead climbing. The bolts were tightened but new chains need to be installed. I was out of chains at the time but will gladly give two sets to any one heading to Hatta that knows how to safely replace them. So this means that some one recently bolted these top rope routes yet didn’t take the time to replace the anchors?

As I have said before I do not climb at Hatta too often (I’m usually at The Ranch), however if by the off chance that I am there (or any crag) I at least take the initiative to check any anchors that I come across and tighten them if they are loose. Are any of the other veteran climbers or active bolters going to do the same at any crag they happen to be at? I would like to think so; however finding many loose bolts at Hatta while knowing that “veteran climbers” have been there leads me to believe that they won’t take the time. What about the novice climbers? Are you going to take the imitative to let someone know that you came across a loose or rusty anchor? Again I would hope so. Get in the habit of carrying a spanner on your harness, be proactive.

There are four Facebook pages dedicated to climbing in the UAE, three group pages: UAE Rock Climbing, Rock Republic, and “The Real UAE Rock Climbers” (I am not even going to get started on that but if you are so “Real” how come no one is doing any “Real” route maintenance? I am not bitching that is a valid question) and there is the community page: UAE and Oman Rock Climbing. These pages are resources for climbers, so if you come across a loose, rusty, damaged etc. bolt or anchor then post it so at least the climbers that are going to these areas know. “Hopefully” if someone knows then the issue could be addressed and fixed.

We all know or at least should know that we climb at our own risk every time; however route maintenance by climbers that are climbing and or bolting in these areas should also be going on. Routes that are potentially unsafe should be identified so climbers know.

So onto the next issue.

Hatta is disappearing. We all know that the crag is on the back side of an active quarrying operation. During the few and far between visits I have there I always see that another portion of the mountain has been blown away.  This time was no exception as they have clearly started cutting into the far left side of the crag. Luckily there are no route in that portion (that I know of), it is only a matter of time before they start working their way towards the rest of the crag destroying years of hard work, many great climbs and a great climbing area. Although my favorite area is The Ranch and is where I intend to do the majority or my climbing and bolting I do not want to see any crag in the UAE or Oman destroyed. Hatta Crag is great and if I do not get permits to Dibba or can only climb for a day then Hatta is where I would go.

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So what can “we” the “climbing community” do about it? There are plenty of things.

Last time (sometime last year) I raised the subject about getting the “climbing community” together and organized in some fashion to attempt to do something about Hatta crag (like approaching the quarry); it turned into yet another huge online ego driven rant and rave bitch fest. Hopefully maybe by the off chance if we can set the ego aside we can all come together and attempt to do something about it. If you have an issue with helping out, getting the climber organized to save Hatta, can’t set your ego aside and only want to bitch this is me tactfully telling you to keep your mouth closed and to take your personal and ego issues elsewhere.

At least if there is an attempt to save Hatta Crag it will be better than the climbing community doing nothing and it being destroyed in the next few years. The climbing community has grown a lot in the past few years from what it was when I first arrived. Some of us have good connections with various companies and government officials in the UAE and Oman the might be willing to help out. The MoT (Ministry of Tourism) Oman is pro climbing and pro outdoors, I know a few of us have connections with people at the MoT, so if we can get organized, form a plan then this might be a good place to start (since technically Hatta Crag is in Oman). I have also talked to a very influential big name company that will stay disclosed for the time being that is VERY willing to support an effort to attempt to save Hatta Crag as well.

So is anyone willing (other than me) to take the initiative to step up and get this project started. I am more than willing to get it started to help and do my part; however I currently do not want to be lead on this project (as I have other projects that I am committed to).  Please feel free to comment any thoughts or suggestions (as long as they are not ego driven or turn to a bitch feast) as to how we can make this happen.

Maybe TraksPro, Rock Republic, Adventure HQ etc. would be willing to organize a climbers meet at their facility so that the “climbing community” can meet in one place to discuss and brainstorm ideas.

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