Accident in Oman - Always be Prepared

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 UKC Articles 06 Aug 2014
Gaz after 3 hours of bum-shuffling down from Jebel Misht, 4 kbEvery climber has a dream route or objective. Gaz Leah's was to climb a new route on Oman's Jebel Misht.

In this article, Gaz describes his attempt at a new route that very nearly ended in disaster after a rockfall occurred on the route...


 yossarian714 06 Aug 2014
In reply to UKC Articles:

A harrowing experience well described.

But I'm interested: what further preparation could you have done that would have made the accident into less of a disaster?
 FreshSlate 06 Aug 2014
In reply to yossarian714:

Not a whole lot reasonably as a 2 man team. Obviously something resembling to a support team or something but that would have been over doing it. Rockfall is generally one of those shit happens things. I imagine they were on high alert for rockfall but you don't always see it coming/have much option for dodging the stuff. It's an interesting question though.
In reply to UKC Articles:

Nicely done, with true down-the-pub understatement. Joe Simpson managed a whole book out of his situation, though

For me, what seems obvious is that in many parts of the globe, you're going to need to take a more active role in being found: either knowing your exact coordinates, or failing that a couple of smoke flares.

What you also did, though, was more important: you took responsibility for yourself. All the gear in the world's useless unless you make that simple decision. Good one.

 ejected 07 Aug 2014
In reply to UKC Articles:

Sounds like you got off pretty lightly; just a couple of stitches, could have been nasty.
king_of_gibraltar 09 Aug 2014
In reply to UKC Articles:

I'm a bit confused by what happened with your boss, Rob. Hand's up, he got to you guys really quick and brought some kit to help you out. He organized the Helo Casevac and then left. Isn't there anything else he could've done in an effort to help get you out of there faster? As mentioned above, your coordinates could have helped the helo find you sooner, as well as flares or any other signals kit.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing the guy of abandoning you or anything. I'm sure that someone in his position would be extremely professional in a situation like this but some clarification on what happened with him would be good.

On another note, for anyone interested. In the effort to get spotted by a Helo in a casevac or similar situation, a headtorch attached to the end of a rope (about 2-4m long) works really well when spun around fast in a circular motion. When seen from above it will give a Helo team a good idea of where you are, distance and lay or the ground which you are located in.
RobOman 11 Aug 2014
In reply to king_of_gibraltar:

My side of the event Rob Gardner

I was already leading a trekking group (15 paxs), and I was nicely tucked up in bed, when I get a call from GAZ (6:30 ish), saying he has fallen and needs help. We were in Nizwa which is about an hour or so from the mountain
Gaz had phone communication which was good, I don’t remember what I said at this point to him , I then knew I had to speak to my trekking crew and work out a plan immediately.

It was arranged that one Omani crew would come with me, he would be the liaison between Omani EMS.
• Trekking group was safe and would not see any change of plans that morning.
• Office was informed and operations got ready to send out extra trekking support if I was late returning. Other support staff notified to be ready to give help.

We both set off to the area speaking to Gaz on the way establishing the state of his injuries and that of his climbing buddy also where they were and what provisions they had.
Gaz had facial injuries but could still talk, there was also blood coming from a foot injury. It was hard to establish from them how bad it was and I did not want them to remove the boot; I needed to keep pressure on the wound. Hamza was Ok and in good condition, shocked but ok. ( I remember Gaz shouting, ‘tell Rob it’s not that bad, I am not going to die’) This helped me know Gaz was hurt but coherent.
Communication was swapped to Hamza at this point.
We were in contact with Omani Police on route to get them mobilised with the right team, we would help guide them in.
We found the wadi Gaz and Hamza said they were in but this was still a bloody hard judgment on where they were; we talked to Hamza before losing signal and walking into the wadi..
My thoughts were:
I need to ensure the Omani Mohammed and I have fluids
To mark a route for others to follow if they need to, and if it’s dark I can get out.
Take some shade and water, Hamza did have some rations with him.
It took Hmmmm? Hour and half or so to make contact, Hamza was great at describing his position and after some wrong wadi’s and a lot of swearing we picked him out on top of a rock in the distance to our left up higher. I remember marking a wadi with a big Orange sheet high up so all could see it as a guide to the right direction.
Police now were phoning regular and it was escalating up the chain to command in Muscat, the Omani was having to stop and keep talking.
We arrive with Gaz and Hamza.
Established Gaz’s injuries were going to stop him walking down even with help. Hamza was in good condition. There was no first aid treatment necessary, Gaz’s face was badly cut but no teeth lost and they had bandaged it up, the foot was not leaking much blood, no visible breaks, so the boot was left on for support and protection; he was fully conscious and we chatted for a while, I had brought a sleeping bag either as warmth or shelter or rip it apart for splints bandages etc. Gaz was injured but still in good spirits. My mind then turned to getting him out and the others behind me. The area was open and from my view a helicopter landing was possible a little further away, no rain was due and the only way the temperature was going was up, not that hot but in the low thirties.
Police had arrived in bottom, but only one guy in a car and was going to walk up, which was a waste of time, others were on route; he waited.

Police were now in full swing and were arriving at the bottom in numbers with a commanding officer who was starting to take charge. We relayed all info to him and gave him Hamza’s mobile number as contact.
Gaz was stable and I was thinking I could lead the police faster to Gaz if they were planning a stretcher lift.

We left them both remarking the route on the way down, at the bottom we meet up with the police, we then talked through all aspects of the incident with them. The route down would have been hard and in some areas ropes would have been necessary to lower him down, I was told the helicopter was on its way and they would extract him that way.

From then on they took control of the situation. There was one ambulance and about 6 police on the scene when I departed.
As they were still waiting for a helicopter we spoke to Gaz and Hamza during the morning , police were talking to Hamza on the top, finally he had been picked up in the late afternoon.

I arrived back in the afternoon to my group all safe and wanting to hear what had gone on.

Hope this gives a better picture was I was doing.

king_of_gibraltar 12 Aug 2014
In reply to RobOman:

Hi Rob,

Thanks for that. Sounds like you did as much as you could without being reckless and maintaining your professionalism at all times.

I've never been to Oman but have spent quite a bit of time in the Sahara so I can imagine how hard organizing and putting a plan into effect in such a situation can be.

Nevertheless, I think Gaz owes you a pint!


 Duffers 21 Aug 2014
In reply to UKC Articles:


Hats off to you for having a bash at route on Misht. I would have loved to climbed that whilst I was out there, but thought it a little beyond myself and my partners. Al Hamra Towers - great routes. Rob, I bet you were like No, for fcuks, sake!!?

It brought home to me just how lucky Ian and I were on The Scorpion in Wadi Maih, when Ian dislodged a crisp box size block above me and luckily it missed me completely and just clipped the ledge I was on, whilst I was trying to force myself through the front of the rock face and that was on an established route!

Adventure climbing at its best is the best way to describe climbing in Oman. I loved the place.

After that, we all carried first aid kits akin to a paramedic sack in our cars and we rotated who was 'jiffed' to carry it to the climbing area.

I hope you manage to get back out there and get your new route dream finished. Then you can buy Rob that pint that he deserves, as getting a helo rescue is a massive achievement out there!


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