Into the Light: Climbing an epic cave in Oman

Stefan Glowacz and Chris Sharma climb Majlis al Jinn, one of the world's largest cave chambers.
By Josh Sampiero

It's said that what goes up also must go down. In this case, the opposite was true. Beginning at a hole in the ground in the country of Oman, Chris Sharma and Stefan Glowacz descended beneath the earth's surface to begin a climb like no other.

The location was Majlis al Jinn, literally the cave of spirits, and one of the largest cave chambers in the world. The only entrance to the cavern is by a 160m abseil – although that's not strictly true for everyone. In 2007 Felix Baumgartner famously BASE jumped in. For Glowacz and Sharma, the way up was the point of interest and that was via the world's largest unclimbed roof. 

“When I went in the cave for the first time, I realised it would be so difficult but it would be the perfect project to do with Chris,” Stefan told us.  

Stefan Glowacz climbing during his expedition in Oman.
Stefan Glowacz - Action © Klaus Fengler/ Stefan Glowacz GmbH

Once at the bottom, the challenge began – get back outside. Thirteen pitches of 7c+ and 8b+ climbing lay before them – with overhanging inclines of 45 degrees and more. Other than that, the athletes had little idea of what to expect on the never-before climbed roof of Majlis al Jinn.

Stefan Glowacz and Chris Sharma preparing for the roping.
Stefan Glowacz and Chris Sharma © Klaus Fengler/ Stefan Glowacz GmbH

Unfortunately for Glowacz, an injury prevented him from completing the challenge and the tight schedule the climbers were granted to accomplish the feat didn't leave him time to recover.

However, just being there was a memorable enough experience for the world renowned climber. “It’s simply an incredible experience to climb Majlis al Jinn,” says Glowacz. “The route’s type and character are unique. To climb from the bowels of the earth back into the light is one of the most impressive things I’ve done.” 

Stefan Glowacz and Chris Sharma celebrating after the climb.
Stefan Glowacz and Chris Sharma celebrating © Klaus Fengler/ Stefan Glowacz GmbH

Sharma's sentiments are the same. “It was really a ground breaking achievement for myself. To climb out of this crazy cave was an ambitious goal in itself. We're just lucky how it came together – it was really special.”

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