3Somes is another area developed by Ralph Heath. It is in Wadi Shaha.
From the road, two main focal points attract the eye: the large left facing corner, of the Kingsize Bed area (the L hand buttress) and, across the central descent gully, a short, clean, curving off-width crack with a cave at its R hand base (the Menage a Trois area). The rock in the Menage a Trois area is generally better than the Kingsize Bed, but the slightly lighter coloured rock of the Menage a Trois slab (all the way to the R of the crag), is especially good. Approach approx. 10 mins
The routes are described from L to R. The first 4 routes are not typical of the author’s typical routes ie more cleaning needed.
I have used a star system to highlight routes that deserve attention for their quality:
1 star routes = of importance compared to other routes of the same grade at the same venue
2 star routes = of importance compared to other routes of the same grade in the wider general area
3 star routes = of importance compared to other routes of the same grade nationally
Therefore any route that I have done the first ascent, and attracts even 1 star, should be an enjoyable route with better rock quality than the average found in the UAE. I hope this assists you in selecting appropriate routes that maximise your enjoyment.
Where routes contain an abundance of poor rock I have written 'Not Recommended'.
From the Shamil garage (Emarat brand), at the Lamp/Lantern Roundabout in Ras Al Khaimah, continue West (W) along the dual carriageway, over two more roundabouts, past the RAK Hospital, and the Medical Sciences College. After about 4km and a lazy 90 degree bend (N) in the road, you arrive at a mini-roundabout where you go straight on for another 200mtr, till the T junction, where a R turn takes you past the military barracks (on L), and past 3 huge gas storage silos (on R). The next R is sign-posted Wadi Baih. Take this and stay on the main tarmacced road, past the entrances to several other wadis, past several villages, until nearly 20km in, where there is a roundabout (GPS Grid ref: N 254918.6 / E 0560645.2) next to a yellow house with white trim and red tile roof. This, incidentally, is about 3km before the border post for Oman (which is no longer passable for non-Emiratis). At the roundabout turn L (NW). You are now in Wadi Shaha. About 5km along the tarmac, at the worker’s camp on the L, a white telecoms tower makes measuring distances to crags very convenient. Distances are thus from this white tower…zero your odometer!!
Travel 8.9km past the white telecommunications tower - GPS N 255336.5 / E 0560640.1 - which is 150mtr past a property entrance on L. A square man-hole on the opposite side of the road also indicates the correct place to park. Despite regular cairns being built to indicate where to cross the wadi and scale its crag-side wadi 'bank'/wall, they keep being obliterated by the intermitent heavy construction at the wadi.
Lots of heavy duty road works are being conducted further up the wadi and the approach to this venue is often used to supply the wadi improvement project with stones, so bulldozers are occasionally found gathering or stacking rocks at or near the approach.
Wadi Shaha is owned and worked by Muslims. Even the imported workforce are sourced from Muslim Pakistan. Every visitor who wishes to climb, hike, or ride a bike does so due to the kindness of the locals. Please respect this! There are climbing areas in the UAE where the locals do not welcome climbers, and are actively hostile to prevent them.
There is a huge amount of governmental-funded landscaping currently going on in this wadi. 5 years ago there was no tarmac road at all. Now it spans nearly 15km and is being lengthened further up the mountain each year. The area at the top of the wadi is thus very busy with heavy construction vehicles and constant changes in the actual landscape of the wadi being carried out.
My routes are all at crags in the mid-section of the wadi and so have not been affected by this landscaping, but this may of course change...
There are fewer camping options currently at this end of the wadi due to the road improvement efforts. However, in the near future, when industrial scale trundling of rocks has finished due to completion of the road at this point on the mountain, the parking spot at the entrance to Trident Gorge also allows access to two wonderful camp spots. In the meantime improvised camping will have to be found on an ad-hoc basis anywhere further down the wadi where you are not inconveniencing the locals (somewhere where the wadi is wide and braided is where most of the locals camp. Between Thunder and Yellow House there are several access roads down onto 'mezzanine' gravel levels, but avoiding the flood area of the true wadi floor. These make great camping spots.
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Routes At 3SomesRazorfingers 54mtrs Grade HVS 4b F/A R Heath / Simon Cahill Dec 5th 2012
This route is listed in the 'Not Recommended' section. Start at the steep, short, sharp crack and ascend 5mtr to easier ground. Make a rising traverse L to a small recess below the main chimney of 3Somes Aren’t Fun. R of the chimney, a walkway ledge leads to the bolt belay of 3Somes and Anticlimax. Avoid the chimney, 3mtrs R is a steep crack leading you to a ledge. Traverse L to a seam/ramp to the finish.
Anticlimax 54 mtrs Grade VS 4b F/A R Heath/Owen Pearce Jan 14th 2012
As the name hopefully suggests, in spite of the great looking line, the route never lives up to expectations, and is listed as 'Not Recommended'.
1.4b25mtr Start L of the slab, at Razorfingers' crack. Gain the slab above. Move R to the crack in the blunt nose and up to the narrow ledge and bolt belay (below a slight bulge)
2.4b35mtr Take the crack on the R. Static moves on the sharp holds are advised. Continue direct, past pedestal, with occasional steps R when needed to avoid loose bits. Short sections of face climbing between breaks, lead to Razorfingers' bolt anchor at top ledge. Head L past gendarme for same descent as 3Somes and project route.
3somes Aren’t Fun60mtrs Grade HS 4a F/A John Domoney/Ralph Heath A/L (Ben Ranson) Feb 28th 09
Not Recommended. After the 1st pitch, and during a long day in unseasonally hot sun, Ben Ranson succumbed to heat exhaustion and needed to be lowered to the ground. Our threesome had ended prematurely.
1.30mtrs 3c An easy line up the nose 10mtrs L of the main “Making the 1st Move” corner. Bolt anchors
2.30mtrs 4a Now eager to help Ben back to the car, the 1st ascent team escaped L into the obvious gully for a further 26mtrs of easy ascent (mostly without gear), before a protectable 4a move at a chockstone near the top. Gain main ledge, belay. Good natural anchor.
Fig. 2 from L to R: Razorfingers, Anticlimax, 3Somes Aren’t Fun, Making the 1st Move. The white oval indicates the belay on Anticlimax and 3Somes Aren’t Fun.
Fig. 3 Making the 1st Move
Making the 1st Move 57mtrs Grade Severe F/A Ralph Heath/Ollie Sampson Dec 24th 08
Not Recommended in its present state. Follow the prominent L facing corner that attracted you to the crag from the road. This route still requires substantial cleaning for ideal conditions, but will go if you’re delicate. It takes you to a walkway ledge at 58mtrs, below the main overhang. Ensure belayer is located above the first chockstone at base of route for climber to reach ledge. Weave from face to corner to face avoiding the worst of the loose & flaky terrain. The attractive (from a distance) continuation crack will be a serious undertaking, awaiting its 1st ascent, and very serious cleaning.
Descent for 3Somes and Razorfingers: scramble up 5mtr. Follow cairns L to descent gully.
Descent for Anticlimax & 1st Move: walk L on ledge, under roof, and past gendarme. Now follow the normal descent as for the above routes.
For the next routes head around the side to the R, cross some talus and head 20mtrs uphill, to a chimney with a really attractive crack at the top.
The Dirty Slag* 34mtrs Grade S 4a F/A Ralph Heath/Violain Maincent Dec 18 10
The Dirty Slag has beautiful lines and is captivating. Allow her to lure you for some fun in her depths. From the outset go down on your knees and bury your head into her deepest parts. Once lodged into her inner sanctum, ease all your limbs into her gaping cavern, employing relaxed movements to reach an enjoyable rhythm. Do not be deterred by a lack of protection, she’s had a clinical inspection, and was tested clean (however, be watchful on the L wall for protection before making a mantelshelf onto a ledge about 10mtr up). Approaching her climax, slide out of her grotto and get your fingers working in her welcoming crack. Having reached your peak, and with her crack exhausted, move your fingers up and cradle the side of her face to savour your well-earned release. Bolt anchors in roof sidewall.
Fig. 4 The Dirty Slag
Descent: Walk off R-wards to the large gully – either step up and over to a slightly hidden ledge to access this, or go R on the immediately visible but exposed, outer ledge and access it this way.
Across the descent gully is a short blob of rock. It has a cylindrical tube-like recessed passage with a small roof above. At its’ base are some holes in the ground that give out warm damp air. Here is
the site of the next routes…
Moist Holes** 14mtrs Grade E2 5a F/A Ralph Heath/Aiden Laffey Dec 8th 2012
By the L edge of the crag, a warm, damp, verdant section of floor gives a signal that subterranea is not too far away. Start by a short corner crack on the R and traverse L, into the tube-like passage. At the base of the tube, fiddly, dubious small nuts, even when equalized together don’t instill confidence. Levitate into the tube with difficulty, and protect the horizontal pocket on the L, above, before gaining the ledge on your R. Finish easily via another recess, and the slab to bolt anchors. Extend your anchor if someone is seconding. Definitely worth constructing a sling anchor and top roping.
Double the Fun 13mtrs Grade F5b F/A Ralph Heath / Simon Curson Mar 2011
A balancey route. 3mtr R of Moist Holes, ascend a 1mtr corner with a bolt on it. A balancey rockover follows, then a hollow plate is held delicately to pull to the top. Bolt anchor
Ignore the next 10mtr of messy rock, devoid of routes. The next line is the easy-angled ramp-line…
Pleasuring Oneself 13mtrs Grade Difficult F/A Ralph Heath (solo) Mar 4th 09
Although I have soloed this route 3 times this route has not been cleaned – fancy some public service? Scamper up the easy corner/ramp to the ledge like a little Easter bunny. The rock above is steep & drastically harder than Difficult, and is of dreadful quality beyond this. I wouldn’t recommend going any higher. The ledge on the R leads above 3Somes Are Fun, and lots of large, very loose blocks above it await the unwary, not to mention those climbing that route. Walk off L.
3somes Are Fun* 14mtrs Grade HS 4a F/A Ralph Heath/John Domoney/Ben Ranson Feb 28th 09
This route was originally climbed to the top of the crag, however loose blocks and lack of anchors above, produced this much shorter, better morsel. This route is about 15mtr R of the descent gully, and is identified more easily by its very obvious neighbour the super mellow ramp of ‘Pleasuring Oneself’.
Start by surmounting a large chockstone, and immediately transfer to the R-side shelving that leads to an attractive crack and a side-wards bulge at 10mtr. Behind this is a squeeze chamber leading to a ledge, and a size 2 camalot hand crack. Finish trending L, up the face to chain anchors.
Fig. 5 From the L: ‘Pleasuring Oneself’, ‘3Somes Are Fun’, ‘The Mental Block’, ‘Good Vibrations’, ‘Hand Job’, ‘Tantric Joy’ and ‘Voyeurism’. Unseen to the L are 'Moist Holes' and 'Double the Fun'
The Mental Block** 33mtrs Grade HVS 5b F/A Ralph Heath (unseconded) Dec 12th 10
10mtrs R of 3Somes Are Fun, past an overhanging wall, is a clean hand crack and struggling tree. Go up this, and traverse L under bulges. The crack turns vertical and gets very thin (crux), to gain the hollow below the overhang. Dodge L and soar up the main crack. Before reaching a sandy opening, exit R using face pockets for cams. Finish by passing a thin torso-sized, vertical block on a ledge shared with the finish of ‘Tantric Joy’, into the final crack section. Gear anchor and walk off uphill then L. Patiently belayed by Shahan Contractor (a thousand apologies for taking so long!).
Good Vibrations*** 21mtrs Grade F6a+ F/A Ralph Heath/Simon Curson Mar 2010
Start as for Mental Block, but go high via bolts on face. Gain a small ledge. Now to figure out the intimidating and very balancy arête to gain several breaks. More ways to do it badly than easily. Finish through a roof. Chain anchor.
Fig. 6 Ralph on the shared start of ‘Mental Block’, ‘Good Vibrations’, and ‘Hand Job’. The Mental Block follows the L diagonal crack, below the rippled rock, then up high on the L. Good Vibrations & Hand Job stay R of the red rope (used to clean and bolt those routes).
Hand Job** 21mtrs Grade F6b F/A Ralph Heath / Owen Pearce Jan 16th 12
Same start as last two routes, but stay R following a crack and block, and gain the ledge to the L. Staying central-R of face, follow crimps beside bolts to same chain anchor as Good Vibrations, avoiding the pockets of Tantric Moments.
Tantric Joy*** 30 mtrs Grade F5b F/A Ralph Heath (unseconded) Jan 17th 11
A platform of rock forms the base to the chimney start of Voyeurism. Start at the front below this platform. After the 1st bolt keep to the arête avoiding the chimney of Voyeurism. Getting past the 2nd bolt is intimidating if you don’t use your eyes/feet. At the ledge 5mtr from the top, positive crimps allow a high-step. Chain anchors. Belayed by John Gregory
Voyeurism* 25mtrs Grade S 4a F/A Ralph Heath/Aiden Laffey Dec 18th 10
Same start as for Tantric Joy. The chimney takes big gear making this less exposed. At the ‘Humping Stone’ most head directly over, and enjoy a sit down – look this position up in the Kama Sutra! Continue up and R to the final short steep section. Belay with your feet just under the chains and your backside against the opposite wall. Chain anchors.
Fig. 7 Ralph just below the humping stone, on his 1st ascent of the off-width delight ‘Voyeurism’. The marked arête on the L is ‘Tantric Joy’.
Project name Two Mouths to Feed 30mtrs F/A project Ralph Heath 2013
Start on the L of the cave. With heel-hooks and mucho-gusto, traverse R into the crack of ‘Starting at the G-Spot’. Escape directly up the crack and features above, continuing to the top of the crag through all the bulges. Bolt anchors
Project name Open Project Anticipated Grade at least in the high F7’s F/A open project
Starting within the cave, think light thoughts to gain the roof’s mouth. Neither cleaned or bolted.
Project name Stroking the Thigh First 14mtrs F/A project Ralph Heath 2013
Scamper up the messy, loose R-side guarding wall, to gain a small, off-balance shelf. Slide L-wards along a horizontal rail till the curvaceous features above can be used. A short vertical section brings you to the anchor. Chains on R
Harder Than Your Husband*19mtrs Grade F6a F/A Ralph Heath unseconded (belayed by Matt Jones) Mar 12
13mtrs R of the cave is a 3mtr tall V-shaped slab, leading to a featured face, a L traverse, and a chain at the R of a roof. Gaining the final bolt via a small crimpy pinch on the blunt arete is the intimidating crux, those w/suspect balance/finger strength might struggle. Matt Jones belayed.
French Tickler* 21mtrs Grade Very Difficult F/A Ralph Heath/Violain Maincent Dec 12th 10
15mtr R of the cave feature is a crack that forks in two at about 12mtrs. Head L, past a suspect bulge. Chain anchors.
Twice as nice 20mtrs Grade V.Difficult F/A Ralph Heath (solo) Dec 16th 10
This route follows Double the Fun till the crack forks. Take the R branch to a bolt anchor.
Across the gully is a narrow slab with impeccable rock. The 3 bolted routes are all superbly entertaining.
Fig. 8 Ralph Heath on the 1st ascent of Swinging in RAK. Completing the hand-traverse leads to lovely thin crimps. Above L in the photo there is a dark roof – if TR’ing descend next to this to avoid a pendulum. If cleaning draws, secure yourself to the belayers rope with a draw to your harness to avoid same pendulum.
Swinging in RAK** 24mtr Grade F6a F/A Ralph Heath/John Gregory
Dec 10th 10
Start on the flake, gain its’ ledge, and clip the bolt that protects the hand traverse R. I apologise in advance for though I try to set routes that are not height-dependent, this route’s features cannot help but make it harder for the shorter climber. Once past the hand traverse, take a line that is adjacent to the arête. Chain anchors.
Descent: To avoid a scary and painful pendulum it’s essential to head into the gully’s sidewall, at the halfway roof (dark-brown rock). If removing the ‘draws, clip yourself to the belayer’s rope to protect from this same pendulum.
Fig. 9 John Gregory on the 2nd ascent of the wonderful route ‘Mutual Stimulation’, with the upper line marked
Mutual Stimulation*** 27mtrs Grade F6a F/A Ralph Heath/John Gregory
Dec 10th 10
A steep start gains the slab. Options abound (especially to make this route accidentally harder). The line as with all sport climbs follows the bolts so, at the bulgy crux at the top, stay central – an easy L foot hold unlocks the F6a sequence, I promise! Chain anchor
Auto-Eroticism***31mtrs Grade F6a+ F/A Ralph Heath/John Gregory Dec 10th 10
Start in the corner and access the short chimney. Either pay homage to your trad brethren by tackling the off-width section, or celebrate your sport pedigree by moving L onto the face asap. Either way, gain the slab on the L soon enough. Avoid straying onto easier rock on the R - be strong young Jedi, the line is close to the bolts on F5c nubbins. At the steep crux, don’t get suckered into the corner (though at F5c this short escape bypass is a great line deserving two solid stars itself). Hold your F6a+ line direct to the bolt, on small crimps. Pleasant climbing afterwards, reaches the top ledge. Chain anchor