Encouraging mountain-climbing, while championing the conservation of this wealth, is also in line with the government’s longstanding policy in support of environmental conservation
-Rashid al Jabri
YAHYA AL SALMANI –
Muscat, March 9 –
Mountains make up roughly 15 per cent of the Sultanate’s topography, thus affording fantastic opportunities for mountain-climbing buffs to pursue a great hobby. They come in different heights and pose different grades of challenges. Famous climbing spots are: Khubrah and Hadash in Wilayat Nakhl, Wadi Dayqah in Qurayat, La Gorgette in Wilayat of Rustaq, Wadi Ghool in Al Sharqiyah South Governorate and Jabal Misht.
Although mountain-climbing as a hobby was first introduced by foreigners several decades ago, many Omanis have since gravitated to the sport. In fact, a growing number of locals now pursue mountain-climbing with great enthusiasm over their weekends and public holidays.
For die-hard Omani enthusiasts, mountain-climbing is also an opportunity to explore some of Oman’s finest natural treasures, particularly hidden away deep in the rugged countryside.
Nature lovers and photography aficionados recognize the benefits of scaling mountains in to gain vantage views of the surrounding landscape, observe rare birds, photograph wildlife or gain access to little-known springs. Oman’s mountains shelter a rich array of flora and fauna which needs to be celebrated and conserved at the same time. Nature photographers do a great service to this cause when they photograph from afar aspects of this rich natural heritage. Encouraging mountain-climbing, while championing the conservation of this wealth, is also in line with the government’s longstanding policy in support of environmental conservation, says Rashid al Jabri, an Omani climber.
But climbing has its risks, and may only be pursued by those who have the requisite skills and stamina. Beginners should first bone up on their knowledge of mountain-climbing, what it entails, and so on. “Before we set out, we read up on what it takes to be a safe and sensible climber,” said Abdullah al Siyabi, an amateur climber. “We also study the experiences of others who have been successful in this field.” Also as weather conditions vary from one area to another, climbers have to be aware of the time of year when it is suitable to go mountain-climbing or not. Each region has its own optimum season for mountain-climbing, according to Abdullah al Seyabi.
But climbing is not simply a matter of strength and stamina. There is also mental component to it, akin to the moment when you know it’s time to change gears correctly — in automotive parlance.
There is also the issue of ‘ethical mountaineering’, which beginners are strongly encouraged to learn and embrace before they consider climbing as a sport. As many of the mountains identified as ideal for climbing are in remote locations, enthusiasts must be mindful of the sensitivities of local communities and also respect the environment.
Both Rashid al Jabri and Abdullah al Seyabi are now working together to introduce this sport to the general public. “It’s been our hobby for the past three years during which we’ve scaled all of the popular landmarks. Our goal now is to introduce this sport to children.”
Abdullah and Rashid want Omani children to learn rock climbing because there are many practice lessons to be learned in the process. “It helps children to improve their stamina and build their mental concentration. As climbers go out in a group, they learn to work as a team. Children will gain confidence and become better motivated,” they explained.