Yellow House is a large crag in Wadi Shaha in the Hajar mountains of the United Arab Emirates. There is a huge amount of rock (limestone) in the Hajar, but it does tend to be rather loose.
Nevertheless there are many fine crack lines on Yellow House which provide worthwhile routes. The climbs are mainly long single pitches which have been well cleaned and lead to bolt abseil anchors. Originally some of these lines were climbed to the top of the crag, but the best rock and climbing were found to be on the first pitches.
From Dubai drive north towards Ras Al Khaimah, reached in one hour (a 4-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary to visit Wadi Shaha). Head inland towards Wadi Bih (see the guidebook for a detailed description). About 1 km before the Oman border in Wadi Bih turn left at a roundabout into Wadi Shaha. This new asphalt road up Wadi Shaha has led to a fair amount of climbing develpopment since it was opened in 2009.
Yellow House is on the east side of the wadi opposite a yellow ochre house, about 7 km from the roundabout. The open book corner of Al Zawir on the right side of the crag is most easily identified from the road. Approach up either of two gullies in about 25 minutes.
Yellow House is about 1 km wide and over 200m high in places, rising up in two main tiers. Rather than develop a small area we picked the best looking lines, so they are spread out along the crag. Most of the climbs are in the UAE climbing guidebook, but a number of bolt anchors (chains) have been added since that was published and these are described below.
The climbs are described from left to right. Also see the route photos.
Flag Cascade 60m E1 5b
Starts at twin cracks just left of a UAE flag painted on the rock on the left side of the crag, lower tier. Pitch 1 30m. Climb the left hand crack to a hard move over an overhang. Pitch 2 30m. Continue more easily with a runout section before slanting right slightly, keeping on the waterworn rock, to finish at the bolt anchor. 60m ropes just reach the ground for the abseil descent.
M for Murder 40m HVS 5a
Starts below a big roof 80m left of the top of the left hand approach gully. Climb the crack and traverse left around the overhang. Continue up the off-width crack to the bolt anchor.
Ruby in the Dust 40m HVS 5b
Starts 100m right of the top of the left hand approach gully, just right of a chockstone chimney. Climb the leftward slanting crack to the bolt anchor.
Big Flake 45m HVS 5b
Starts 70m to the right of Ruby in the Dust below a crack leading to a flake. Climb the left hand crack and the off-width flake. Traverse left to a ledge to finish at a bolt anchor.
Al Zawir 45m VS 5a
The open book corner 100m right of the right hand approach gully. Start up a short crack right of the corner and continue up the corner to the bolt anchor.
Fat Boys Dilemma 45m HVS 5b
Starts 70m right of Al Zawir. Climb the crack with increasing difficulty where it widens. E1 without a large cam. Gear belay. Traverse right on a ledge to the bolt anchor on Captain Flamingo for the abseil descent.
Captain Flamingo 50m HVS 5b
Starts 20m right of Fat Boys Dilemma around the corner. Climb the rightward slanting crack with an off-width finish through the overhang. Bolt anchor.
All Dried Up 40m Severe
Starts 150m to the right of Captain Flamingo in the back of the gully. Climb the waterworn chimney to the bolt anchor.
Afternoon Sun 50m Severe
Starts 20m right of of All Dried Up. Climb the leftward slanting crack/chimney. Gear belay. Traverse left on a ledge and slightly down to the bolt anchor on All Dried Up for the descent.
Take a large trad rack including large cams, and UK-style double half ropes which make it easier to protect with plenty of gear and enables an abseil descent from the bolts at the top.
First ascents were by Pete Thompson with a variety of partners between December 2008 and January 2010.
According to UKClimbing.com Logbooks and Crags database Flag Cascade, M for Murder, Ruby in the Dust and Al Zawir are the best climbs with two stars each.
When to Climb
The UAE is very hot and dry with temperatures in the forties during the summer. However, temperatures are pleasant in the winter, best for climbing between November and March. There isn't much rain, but sudden thunderstorms can bring flash floods in the wadis. Yellow House is west-facing, so climbing is best in the morning when it is in the shade.
There are no campsites, but camping is allowed just about anywhere outside inhabited areas. In the mountains, avoid terraces unless they are obviously not in use. There are snakes and scorpions, but the incidence of bites is small.
M for Murder