National Geographic : 2014 Jan
Climbing Oman 139 Taha tells us that this village, known as Sibi, is home to about a dozen families that all share the same last name, Althouri. Besides fishing, they make their living primarily as goat herders. Suddenly one of the men stops in his tracks, points up at the towering cliff, and starts shout- ing. A thousand feet above us Alex is climbing, antlike, up the rock wall. The Althouris are beside themselves. “What are they saying?” I ask our translator. “It’s hard to explain,” he replies. “But essen- tially, they think Alex is a witch.” I can understand why. Even for me, Alex’s skills are hard to grasp. But so is this landscape: In 28 years of climbing I’ve never seen rock formations as magical. In places the land rises straight from the ocean in knife-edged fins. Proximity to the sea makes these cliffs per- fect for deepwater soloing, a specialized type of Honnold and Findlay enjoy rare leisure time off the cliffs, while author Mark Synnott helms the catamaran that served as home—and commuting vessel—between climbs.