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FRI NIGHT VID: Developing Wadi Rum

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 UKC News 25 May 2018
Wadi Rum, 3 kbOur Friday Night Video this week takes us to the desert sandstone paradise of Wadi Rum, Jordan. Eliav Nissan is a regular in Wadi Rum and has been working with a local climbing guide to develop routes which will attract more climbers to the area. The film features stunning aerial shots of the big walls, amongst the climbers getting to grips with some of the challenges of developing such a vast area.

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1
In reply to UKC News:

What a lovely, good natured, beautiful film. 

Thanks

Coincidentally, I was listening to Anouar Braham's "Maqams" which segued nicely in and out of it.

 

 

 john arran 25 May 2018
In reply to pneame:

Indeed a lovely film, but my critical head heard lots of talk about risk, runouts and marginal gear, while my eyes saw nothing but bolt-protected sport routes. I know there's plenty of potential for both at Wadi Rum, and I've done some fantastic examples of both, but there definitely seemed a disconnect between what they were portraying visually and what they were making verbal references to. Almost like they were suggesting you could have the best of both worlds - the safety of bolts but the adventure satisfaction of unpredictable gear.

Definitely worth going to Rum for either, but the two really don't make for easy bedfellows.

1
 tony howard 26 May 2018
In reply to john arran:

Wadi Rum Quite right John, nice film but bolted routes are happily few in Rum. The best routes are trad and long may it remain so. Just read elsewhere on UKC that a bolt has been added to Orange Sunshine, a classic route to reach Burdah Rock Bridge. It's a VS with more than adequate trad pro, so why the bolt? Keep Rum rock clean!

 

In reply to john arran:

I think this thing about "risk, runouts and marginal gear" is a bit of a recurrent theme in videos by US climbers. It helps make them look cool when, as you say, the reality is that they are bolting. It wouldn't sound half as good if they talked of safe falls and reduced danger.

In reply to UKC News:

Despite this being a well put together film, I can't help but feel some sadness when I see the number of bolts being placed. I was under the impression when I visited in 2010 that the general ethic (amongst the local Beduin and visiting climbers) was for no new bolt to be placed. It would appear Wadi Rum is firmly on the "climbing circuit" now and I really hope its beauty can be preserved. 

Putting to one side the ethical argument I can't imagine these bolts will be replace in 10/20/30 years from now. I hope I'm wrong...

 olddirtydoggy 27 May 2018
In reply to UKC News:

I liked the first line of the film. "Wadi Rum is a quite place, often all you can hear is the wind, and ON BELAY!!!".

 Big Lee 27 May 2018
In reply to UKC News:

The guy's answer at the end of the film about why he came to Wadi Rum to bolt lines seemed ridiculous. Risk?

I don't like how he describes bolted routes as 'modern routes' either. Sport is about as modern as a Ford Sierra. 

In reply to john arran:

> Definitely worth going to Rum for either, but the two really don't make for easy bedfellows.

My thoughts exactly; there is a danger that the whole feel of the place from a climbing perspective will change and that every wall and Jebel will be dumbed down by a bolted descent. It would have been wonderful if Rum could have remained bolt free, but that has not happened. I just hope that a balance can be struck, but with people bolting stuff up with a stated purpose of attracting more climbers, I fear for the future.

 

"People are not travelling to Rum because they have heard there are not enough modern routes".

What a terribly sad statement and hijacking of the word "modern".

There are plenty of places around the world to climb with endless "modern" (ie bolted) routes.

I think it would be more accurate to say that people are not travelling to Rum because they don't realize that it is the ultimate climbing paradise for competent and adventurous V. Diff climbers - there are many more of these than there are people capable of climbing the sort of stuff shown in the film.

A beautiful film of the desert but it left me somewhat depressed and just a little bit angry. It brought to mind (I think Royal Robbins') phrase: "vandals in the cathedral".

 

Post edited at 10:52
1
 Big Lee 28 May 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

It's sadly not just Wadi Rum. Some Austrians have recently started to 'develop' an area of the Karakoram at around 4000m with single pitch sports routes a day's trek and 1000m ascent from the nearest village. They've even painted French-style names and grades at the base of the routes. It makes me sad and angry. A bit off topic but the two climbers in this video had a similar affect on me. It seems that in countries where nearly all of the visiting climbers come from overseas it is much easier to just turn up with a bolt gun and do whatever you please without much consultation prior.

In reply to Big Lee:

> It seems that in countries where nearly all of the visiting climbers come from overseas it is much easier to just turn up with a bolt gun and do whatever you please without much consultation prior.

I think this is probably true and Rum does seem to have become a free for all. Whether there is a consensus among the local Bedouin climbers and guides for or against bolting is unclear - I have heard opinions both ways.

The Bedouin certainly need and welcome visitors and climbers in Rum to support the local economy which in turn helps to preserve the traditional lifestyle. But it seems to be a delicate balance; the Rum area is actually not all that large and there is a danger that tourism destroys the desert and culture which people come to see - as one local said to me "maybe in ten years there will be no desert left for us". Climbers are a very small part of that tourism - the vast majority are people coming for a day or overnight visit with a night in one of the tourist camps. The biggest threat is totally inappropriate development of these camps in the supposedly protected area by outsiders, which therefore bring nothing to the local economy and about which there is certainly anger locally.

As far as guiding is concerned, I would have though that the bedouin are always going to specialise in the complicated, sometimes serious but technically straightforward "Bedouin" routes of which they have unparalleled knowledge and which ought to remain Rum's greatest attraction; I can't imagine the technical trad routes providing much employment, let alone these high standard bolted routes.

 

 3Jas 02 Jun 2018
In reply to UKC News:

I was quite exited about watching this, having visited Rum last autumn. I wasn't able to climb due to a prior injury, and have been planning a return since.

But the approach they took made me a bit sick, for the points you guys have made. 

I've sent the email below to the sponsors. Will let you know if they respond.

Jas

 

Hello.
I recently saw the video linked below on OR's YouTube channel.
I would be interested to know the reasons behind OR's decision to sponsor and promote this route development in the Wadi Rum, Jordan.
The video provides no details about the route or permissions sought by the team. However, the pitons (2:03), bolting (2:07), and aggressive cleaning (2:14) appear completely incompatible with leave-no-trace climbing ethics.
As you are no doubt aware, the Wadi Rum is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, has a long history of trad climbing, and the local authorities make clear that fixed protection should be limited (second link below).
From a marketing standpoint, many of your current and potential customers will take your sponsorship approach into account when deciding what to buy. Absent further information, this video has made me much less likely to buy OR products in the future.
Therefore I would be interested to hear your rationale for supporting this project.
Best regards,
 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjLRg0AI0R0&

http://wadirum.jo/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Wadi-Rum-Climbing-Guide-Amended1.pdf

1
 jon 30 Jun 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

> My thoughts exactly; there is a danger that the whole feel of the place from a climbing perspective will change and that every wall and Jebel will be dumbed down by a bolted descent. It would have been wonderful if Rum could have remained bolt free, but that has not happened. I just hope that a balance can be struck, but with people bolting stuff up with a stated purpose of attracting more climbers, I fear for the future.

> "People are not travelling to Rum because they have heard there are not enough modern routes".

> What a terribly sad statement and hijacking of the word "modern".

> There are plenty of places around the world to climb with endless "modern" (ie bolted) routes.

> I think it would be more accurate to say that people are not travelling to Rum because they don't realize that it is the ultimate climbing paradise for competent and adventurous V. Diff climbers - there are many more of these than there are people capable of climbing the sort of stuff shown in the film.

> A beautiful film of the desert but it left me somewhat depressed and just a little bit angry. It brought to mind (I think Royal Robbins') phrase: "vandals in the cathedral".

Couldn't agree more Rob. I've never been but still feel developing this place in this manner is wrong. I just read something about it in Rock and Ice, so expect more and more of it.  Attracting more climbers aside, there are millions and millions of acres of better rock for sport climbing in the world.

In reply to UKC News:

Interesting reading the thoughts of others - I must have become inured/blind to bolts in my old age, even though I'm more of a trad climber (well, about 50/50 I suppose, at last count)

Robert Durran is rather modest - I came across this:

https://vimeo.com/253962268?ref=em-v-share

which seems to encapsulate his thoughts. Fantastic vid. 

edit: I should add that I found this by following links out of the maths teacher thread. The UKC interconnectedness at its best

Post edited at 19:52
 Luke90 30 Jun 2018
In reply to 3Jas:

Did you ever hear back from OR?


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