Go back to Middle East.Why Oman? Mainly because it’s off the beaten (American) climbing track and yet full of great looking, multi-pitch climbs including Jebel Misht – the El Cap of the Arabian Peninsula. If reading about some sponsored trip to the region in the climbing rags was the initial catalyst, stumbling on the beta for the classic French Pillar online was the ignition point. Also, a bit like Jordan, Oman represents the “easy Middle East :” hassle-free entry, great infrastructure, and most importantly warm and friendly Omanis. As additional draws you have the region’s long and rich history (the ubiquitous Bronze Age beehive tombs for example) and a fascinating range of environments. Despite its openness, do keep in mind that Oman is an absolute monarchy with laws derived from the Sharia – show respect and you will experience nothing but warm hospitality.
Many factors have to line up for a climbing trip to be successful – particularly so in the winter time and especially when there’s only a week available: Shirley cannot be sick (she was two weeks before the trip); I cannot be sick (I was a week prior); flights have to work out (Dulles was closed the day prior to our departure due to snow); and the weather at the climbing destination has to cooperate (it rained in central Oman the week before). Somehow, it all clicked this time and we reached Muscat in the middle of the night after a long series of flights via DC, Zurich, and Dubai.