Climbing in Yemen?

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chick_on_ice

Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 17, 2013 - 02:13pm PT
Alright supertopo-ists. I know this is a long shot, but anyone have info on climbing in Yemen/Socotra? If my visa goes through I'll be going this december. The only thing I've been able to find are some articles on Mike Libecki's explorations around there, but nothing specific.
So....anyone have Mike L. on speed dial or has been to the country before? Any advice/beta will be much appreciated.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 17, 2013 - 02:23pm PT
You might want to pick somewhere with ice.


he U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart immediately.

On August 6, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks.

U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart. As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on July 16, 2013.

The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high. In September 2012, a mob attacked the U.S. Embassy compound. Demonstrations continue to take place in various parts of the country and may quickly escalate and turn violent. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise extreme caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration.

Terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. A U.S. citizen was attacked and killed in Taiz on March 18, 2012 and the press reported that AQAP claimed responsibility. An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Yemen. In the last year, international and local media have reported several kidnappings of Westerners. Violent crime is also a growing problem; local media reported the murder of two U.S. citizens in Taiz and Aden in 2013. In addition, piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean is a security threat to maritime activities in the region. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet.

U.S. government-facilitated evacuations occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs. The lack of a valid U.S. passport may hinder U.S. citizens' ability to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy's ability to provide assistance. U.S. citizens in Yemen should ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times. For more information, see "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis" on the Department's Internet website. Evacuation options from Yemen are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns. The U.S. government typically evacuates U.S. citizens to a safe haven, and travelers are responsible for making their own onward travel plans. Travelers should not expect to be evacuated to the United States.

U.S. citizens remaining in Yemen despite this Travel Warning should limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, enroll their presence in Yemen through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information. If you wish to depart Yemen, you should make plans and depart as soon as possible. The airport is open and commercial flights are operating. There are no current plans for U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Yemen are responsible for making their own travel arrangements.

The U.S. Embassy in Sana'a is located at Dhahr Himyar Zone, Sheraton Hotel District, P.O. Box 22347. The telephone number of the Consular Section is (967)(1)755-2000, extension 2153 or 2266. For after-hours emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please call(967)(1)755-2000 (press zero for extension) or (967) 733-213-509. From time to time the Embassy may temporarily close or suspend public services for security reasons. Emergency assistance to U.S. citizens during non-business hours (or when public access is restricted) is available through Embassy duty personnel.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information for Yemen can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers in other countries, by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review "A Safe Trip Abroad," which includes valuable security information for those living and traveling abroad. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play to have travel information at your fingertips.

Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 17, 2013 - 02:25pm PT
Yemen??? BUUUUUWAAAAAAAAAAAAhahahahahahahahahaaaaaa.....


chick_on_ice

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2013 - 02:31pm PT
Yup. Very much aware. As naive as it sounds. I'm going with a local who lives there (and is white), speaks fluent Arabic and knows his way around. Plus I'm travelling on my foreign, non-US passport. Thank you for the concern, but I've been in sketchy places in this world. I'll be alright :)

And the NE ice will be there when I get back. I've got some projects that are going down this winter (hopefully...if I'm not a wuss about it). Yemen though? Might not even be a country in a few years.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 17, 2013 - 02:33pm PT
I don;'t think it really qualifies as one now.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 17, 2013 - 02:34pm PT
I hear there is some craggin round Syria too...
chick_on_ice

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2013 - 02:42pm PT
Funny you should mention Syria: http://climbhotrock.com/hotrockroot/tripreports/rock-climbing-syria.htm

Hopefully the country will become more travelable and stable in the future, because I'd love to spend some time over there. But even I won't set foot in Syria right now. A college acquaintance of mine was kidnapped there, but he's back and fine now, so all's well that ends well!
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 17, 2013 - 02:47pm PT
Traveling on another passport won't do you much good. Kidnapping seems to be the national sport..

http://rt.com/news/yemen-germany-kidnap-embassy-dead-809/

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/yemen/gunmen-kidnap-unicef-staffer-in-yemen-1.1240063

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/Three_Red_Cross_workers_kidnapped_in_Yemen.html?cid=35810534

http://www.yementimes.com/en/1721/report/3023/Yemeni-businessmen-increasing-target-of-kidnappings.htm

Then there's also the risk of a dronezap signature strike if you happen to be traveling with someone that's on the wrong guy's contact list.


I'd give some serious thought to your "friend's" motivation or intelligence.
chick_on_ice

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2013 - 03:01pm PT
True, although my passport is from the country that's supplying all their guns and weaponry, so I'm not the typical "westerner". Plus I blend in well, compared to your average tall, blonde girl with a flashy smile.

All that being said tongue in cheek, I know it's a very dangerous place to be. I get it. But whether you're climbing some sketchy ice with cornices and avalanche potential or visiting a foreign country, it's all about how you mitigate the uncontrollable variables and control for what you can. That is life after all.

Studly

Trad climber
WA
Nov 17, 2013 - 03:47pm PT
Socotra Island. One of the most incredible places on earth, lots of unexplored granite. One of the islands of Sinbad the sailor. Its part of Yemen but a long boat ride. However they did get a airport somewhat recently. Probably allot safer then the mainland for a foreigner.
chick_on_ice

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2013 - 04:38pm PT
I was obsessed with the lost city of Ubar as a kid (still kinda am), so we're pulling strings to get out to the Dam of Ma'rib and the surrounding area.

Studly you're right: Socotra is much safer than mainland Yemen, so if sh#t hits the fan, that's where I'll retreat to. Plus this can be a test run for a trip to Pakistan in the future. They also have dragon blood trees, frankincense shrubs, falcons and a panoply of bizarre phylums on the island; how cool is that?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 17, 2013 - 04:38pm PT
Socotra Is. is on my very, very, very short list.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Nov 17, 2013 - 06:27pm PT
Andrew Burr did a slide show for an event that I put on that was exclusively about climbing there. It looked very cool kind of like the cathedral spires in the black hills needles on steroids. He said it was very hot. There looked to be tons of potential. The dragon blood tree forest looks other worldly. He did say that he was told to claim to be Turkish and that was the first time he had ever done so in all of his travels. You could email through his business by googling Andrew Burr photography.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Nov 17, 2013 - 06:29pm PT
Also he said the embassy is now closed and would not recommend travel there until the situation changed.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 17, 2013 - 06:31pm PT
I've been warned all of my climbing life by the State Dept. not to go somewhere until the situation changed. Never took notice of it and had some great trips to "dangerous" places.
cintune

climber
The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Nov 17, 2013 - 06:36pm PT
There's an article on climbing Socotra in this month's Rock & Ice. When the next issue comes out it'll be up as a free download.
chick_on_ice

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2013 - 08:55pm PT
I wasn't expecting so many leads for such an obscure climbing area. Thank you all for the input!!! Now if I get this visa thing sorted (and all of my final exams done on time....), I'll be tremendously happy and off for an adventure.

And I think donini summed it up well. I find that if you are not stupid, don't go where you're not supposed to and don't stick your nose into others' business without their invitation, then people respect you enough to leave you alone.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 17, 2013 - 09:29pm PT
it was only back in august this year that the state department ordered all americans to evacuate Yemen as the closed all embassy properties..
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 17, 2013 - 10:21pm PT
And I think donini summed it up well.

Yeah, but who would be stupid enough to try and kidnap Jim?

IMHO the only place worse than Yemen would be Somalia.

I know some people who got in trouble in Yemen a few years ago but they had contacts and got bailed out by the USS Stennis, literallly.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Nov 17, 2013 - 10:31pm PT
You probably shouldn't read Nelson Demille's The Panther.


Or maybe you should.
Chim-Chim

climber
Nov 17, 2013 - 10:47pm PT
Don't be another Beth and Tommy nightmare... don't get me started on that awesome climbing trip. Also why ask when you've already made up your mind ... good luck, I hope we don't have to read about any problems.
Chim-Chim

climber
Nov 17, 2013 - 10:54pm PT
Chick, read the article in Rock and Ice issue #214 Brittany Griffith a world class climber ans d all around badass says it's sketch. Go to Greece or Thailand. It's a vacation after all.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
Nov 17, 2013 - 10:58pm PT
Socatra is apparently very close to Somalia so you get the best of both worlds. Did look very cool.
Chim-Chim

climber
Nov 17, 2013 - 11:01pm PT
A Beautiful spot, too bad the world is the way it is:
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Nov 18, 2013 - 12:24am PT
"And I think donini summed it up well. I find that if you are not stupid, don't go where you're not supposed to and don't stick your nose into others' business without their invitation, then people respect you enough to leave you alone. "

I've been to plenty of places the state dept. deemed unsafe too and would agree pretty much with the above statement though I'd add 'lucky' as well simply because you can become damn unlucky.

Wish I had more info to share as I'd love to check out Yemen someday though in this case will wait.

Now I can give you plenty of beta on Oman...:-)

Have a great trip and do post up a TR when you get back.
duncan

climber
London, UK
Nov 18, 2013 - 03:52am PT
Try asking on a French website. Most of the development has been done by French teams, so you may get more realistic information there. When I briefly looked into it, the political situation was very different to mainland Yemen, however you had to transit though Sana.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 18, 2013 - 10:25am PT
The French can get away with existing in such areas.....they leave toilet paper on the trail just like the locals so no one suspects they are there.
chick_on_ice

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 18, 2013 - 10:26am PT
Also why ask when you've already made up your mind ...

I believe I wasn't asking about whether or not I should go, because you're right Chim-Chim, I've already made up my mind. I'm not interested in Greece/Turkey/Thailand for this trip, because I'm going to Yemen not just for the climbing and drinking on a beach (shocking, I know), but more for broader worldly/travelesque/curiosity aspects.
I approached supertopo's collective wisdom in order to get specific information on the climbing itself that I couldn't get in a political science zine.

And I'm tracking down that Rock and Ice issue right now. You all have been very helpful, and I appreciate the safety concerns, but my parents are worrying more than enough for everyone :)
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 18, 2013 - 10:49am PT
I must ask how does it feel to visit a war torn country like Yemen.. How do you feel laying on the beach there knowing full well the USA has been killing some there and the people there have been attacking USA interests. I think i would feel rather akward as a spoiled westerner "vacationing" in such a place. Do you just pretend all is well and its another day at Ft bragg? Just curious. My old High school buddy Kurt Lippold doenst think much of that place.
Chim-Chim

climber
Nov 18, 2013 - 10:55am PT
Please be safe and have fun, looking forward to your tr when you return. Peace
Majid_S

Mountain climber
Karkoekstan
Nov 18, 2013 - 01:44pm PT
going there with American passport ?




Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Nov 18, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
going there with American passport ?

Majid, did you bother to read any of this thread? My god...
RyanD

climber
Squamish
Nov 18, 2013 - 04:23pm PT
The French can get away with existing in such areas.....they leave toilet paper on the trail just like the locals so no one suspects they are there.

heheheh
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 18, 2013 - 04:32pm PT
Chick-on-ice,,,Heres to hoping your avatar isnt a precursor.! Yemen listed as "hot" currently..
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 18, 2013 - 04:38pm PT
I spoke with a young fella at the local nabe market, the A & M.

He was finishing up his last shift and leaving for home the next day, having made enough money to get back there.

The A & M is run by Yemenis.

This fella told me he hates California--the people in the hood are all Spanish and he can't speak Spanish; the water's good, but not as good as well water in the desert; it's TOO HOT IN THE SUMMER (a half-baked idea--I like it fine); he hates working in a dump disguised as a store.

Sounds hard to believe that it is SO COOl over in Yemen.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 18, 2013 - 04:45pm PT
I wasnt talking temperature..;-)
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 18, 2013 - 04:47pm PT
thank GOD we shipped al queda into their midst after we decimated their civil government!

They gotta go someplace, rSin.

Short of hell, it's pretty damned hot there!

The Flames avoid it, of course.

Ever tried to low-ride a camel?
Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Menlo Park
Nov 18, 2013 - 04:49pm PT
Forget the naysayers ice_chick . Get after it , a post a TR later!
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 18, 2013 - 04:50pm PT
awwwmann no one got my chick-on-ice One liner! That was GOLD!!!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Nov 18, 2013 - 04:51pm PT
Being ready for the call when this sport gets approved for the Olympics.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:02pm PT
Ever tried to low-ride a camel?

Mouse, was yer next question gonna be - why are they called 'ships of the desert'?
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:05pm PT
Doods are like mtn goats! Crickeys what jumpin lol! They should hit the VC camel races!
chick_on_ice

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 18, 2013 - 05:35pm PT
I must ask how does it feel to visit a war torn country like Yemen... I think i would feel rather akward as a spoiled westerner "vacationing" in such a place

Please don't make assumptions about where I am from Ron. I grew up in a war-torn region of the world, and I try not to use it as an excuse for anything. I'm just thankful my parents got us out when they did. I found (in my limited and naive experiences that have composed my life up to this point), that when you interact with people and treat them not as refugees or someone to be pitied, but as real people, they tend to respond in kind. They want to share their way of life, because they tend to be proud of their culture and the little that they do own. By giving them the respect they deserve, and not thinking of yourself as being'above' or 'better' than them, both parties walk away having learned something. And in my idealistic opinion that has been fostered by years of liberal arts indoctrination (guilty as charged), if we can learn from each other, we understand each other better and that leads to us trying not to kill each other. QED
Don Paul

Big Wall climber
Colombia, South America
Nov 18, 2013 - 06:47pm PT
War zones are pretty exhilarating and do change your perspective on the world in an important way. I would not go as a tourist, though. Generally two kinds of foreigners, military, and NGOs. The military are either wearing uniforms or look way too tough, so the locals will assume you're with some NGO. Then everyone wants to know which one, since a lot of them are suspected of spying and do in fact get debriefed when they return. When I've traveled (and lived) in war zones I've always had a legitimate reason that was more or less acceptable to everyone. Living in the killing fields on the Colombia-Panama border, we work with families of victims of both sides of the war and are respected by everyone.

In Afghanistan it was much harder and I was watched all the time, but more so by the secret police of the Afghan govt. Whoever I was I was not spying on the Taliban so it was OK. That was pretty sketchy and poorly planned.I had planned to go to Iraq and sued a private security contractor, but the case settled and its not been financially possible to go back to get more cases. My strategy had been to hold public meetings telling everyone I was there to put a stop to the contractor killings, which was true, and preventing innocent people from being shot down in the streets by the panicked contractors is the kind of issue that would be supported by nearly everyone, from the govt to the insurgents. And make sure you're hooked up with a mosque.

I think that has been the key to my security in Colombia - don't threaten anyone and be very proactive about your public image. On the other hand if I'd gone down there into a war zone and started buying coke and teenage hookers, somebody would have grabbed me or taken me out. You have to navigate the social scene just like you'd navigate a melting glacier on a mountain. You need to get from point A to point B over and over and always have an escape route. You also have to have local people whom you absolutely trust with your life. This kind of travel can get you killed, but so can a mountain, and you can accomplish a lot doing humanitarian work that makes it worth the risk.
jgill

Boulder climber
Colorado
Nov 18, 2013 - 06:50pm PT
You might consider kidnapping insurance unless your family and friends have lots of money. However, it might not be available for Yemen.

Probably a good idea to buy an AK47 as soon as you arrive.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 18, 2013 - 08:16pm PT
John, in the 'event' I alluded to on the first page my friends had M-16's and they were majorly out-gunned. That's why they had to call in a favor.
johnokner

Trad climber
NJ
Nov 19, 2013 - 09:11am PT
If you have to ask on a online forum means you are not prepared and don't belong there.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Nov 19, 2013 - 10:58am PT
The granite in SW Saudi Arabia was beautiful, and empty. We were close to Yemen, but it was a long time ago.

Above all, be smart. Constant awareness about surroundings. Be with your friend and his friends as much as possible.

Think ahead, plan ahead. Study as much Arabic and Yemeni culture as you can.
Study the country.
Be respectful of Islam, cover your hair and wear modest clothing covering to the wrists and ankles, especially in the countryside.
Don't look wealthy or flashy at all.

Never forget that Americans have been killing Yemeni civilians in their attempt to drone the bad guys. Lots of hard feelings in some places.

There is plenty of good reading you can do.






Credit: survival
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Nov 19, 2013 - 11:45am PT
Check out the average weather for that time of year.

Be prepared for rain and chilly nights.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Nov 19, 2013 - 02:10pm PT
Chick, I posted a little sound advice, because you said your mind was made up.
That being said, I will add that I would not go to Yemen at this point in history. I was in the Middle East for 4 years, and I'm a professional Survival Instructor.

Of course it could turn out to be perfectly fine, but are you willing to bet your life on it? That's kind of a reality that you have to face if you really want to go.
You will never face harder stares in your life, and you won't know what's behind them.

There are lots of peaceful places to go in this world. Some of them are in Yemen, along with many people who would love nothing better than to have a better world and have an American friend. Unfortunately mixed with some deadly hate, just like the duality of man here in America.
Best of Luck.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 19, 2013 - 02:29pm PT
She said she didnt want to go to Syria right now. Yet Yemen is fine..??
Again i hope her avatar ISNT a precursor to her condition upon return..
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Nov 19, 2013 - 03:20pm PT
chick_on_ice there is a user on this board named 'the chief' who has climbed a bit in the mid east. I forget exactly what countries but maybe if you PM him he'll spare some intel...

http://www.supertopo.com/inc/view_profile.php?dcid=PDg9PTU7PSc,

Dont tell him I sent you.

DMT

YosemiteSteve

Trad climber
CA
Nov 19, 2013 - 03:34pm PT
Mike Libecki and Josh Helling climbed in Socotra two years ago. There was a video online, but now it's got a password. Here's a page that used to link to it:

http://mikelibecki.com/video/

I know that they did a couple of what they thought were FA's, but upon reaching the top, they found some very old rock cairns. Just a couple of weeks ago, there was a big article in the newest Rock & Ice about another team climbing these same towers. December issue, I think.
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
SLO, Ca
Nov 19, 2013 - 04:03pm PT
Awesome!! plz go forth and crush! I bet 99% of the naysayers on this thread have never left the United States. In Pakistan we would see stuff like like "Die Americans!!" spray painted on rocks but everywhere we went people were insanely friendly.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 19, 2013 - 04:06pm PT
So you went to the number one enemy supporting country and spent money there? How does it FEEL? Like a rollin stone,,, a complete unknown..No direction home?

I wouldnt give pakitsan one thin dime. But thats just me.
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
SLO, Ca
Nov 19, 2013 - 04:10pm PT
Huh? Turns out they didn't put all the big mountains in the U.S., so some of us have to travel.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Nov 19, 2013 - 04:18pm PT
Well Ron, we're giving them untold millions, so actually they don't need your one thin dime.

And if you think we can get by without dealing with places like Pakistan, then you should pull your head out of that Elk butt you've been working on....HA!!
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 19, 2013 - 04:19pm PT
Granted, but its more than likely any currency you deposited there wound its way into a dedicated enemys paw. jus sayin...

My Iranian buddy , while talking on the phone a month ago or so, told me "now is not the time to visit my country".. We were just talking about hunting each others lands since they looked so similar in chukar country.



survival,, im afraid one day in the future we WILL BE dealing with them. And it will be alquay-duh at the locks and switches. Its their ultimate orgasmic dream.
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
Nov 19, 2013 - 04:33pm PT
No,, he was being born about then.
chick_on_ice

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2013 - 06:49pm PT
Supertopo folks! Your collective wisdom and long networking reach have done it again. Thanks again for everyone that provided the contacts for my information-gathering a few weeks ago. It was fruitful and productive and I have to say that climbers go out of their way to help out newbies like me (which is very much appreciated). My visa went through against all odds, so I'll be spending christmas over on the A. peninsula hopefully getting a little bit of rock clambering in.
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