World’s Longest Overhanging Roof Climb Conquered

To push the bar of overhanging roof climbing, legends Stefan Glowacz of Germany and Chris Sharma of the USA looked down instead of up. The duo teamed to climb a route from deep inside a cave in Oman.

Stefan Glowacz climbs Into The Light; photo by Klaus Fengler

The route in the Majlis al Jinn cave, which had never been attempted, is the word’s longest roof climb at 13 pitches. It overhangs at an average of 45 degrees.

The below video helps tell the story.

After finishing the project, they said the 13 pitches are between 7c+ and 8c+ in difficulty. That translates to roughly 5.13a to 5.14c. Gulp.

“This project is a milestone in climbing,” Sharma said. “We wanted to climb an unforgettable line and that’s what we did. It was one of the most impressive projects for me as an athlete and a great experience to accompany Stefan in this one-of-a-kind project.“

The Majlis al Jinn Cave lies in the eastern part of the Hadschar Mountains in Oman. It is the second largest cavern in the world and is accessed through collapsed craters from above.

The “approach” to Into The Light; photo by Klaus Fengler

To get inside, Sharma and Glowacz rappelled about 160 meters straight down as there are no ground-level entrances. There are only a few possible routes that lead through the roof back out of the cave.

The route, named “Into The Light,” begins at the bottom of the massive cave and follows the roof back to the Earth’s surface.

According to a release about the attempt, both athletes didn’t know what to expect.

They were able to climb more than 300 meters up the mostly-horizontal roof. Glowacz injured his hands badly during a fall. He didn’t recover from the injury during the tightly knit schedule the climbers had to accomplish their project. This made it even harder to meet the challenges of the route, leaving the difficult passages to Sharma.

Climbing Into The Light

Both climbers are stoked about their route. “It’s simply an incredible experience to climb in the Majlis al Jinn Cave,” Glowacz said. “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.” —Sean McCoy

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.