CAE Reading and Use of English Part 7
You are going to read a magazine article about rock climbing. Six paragraphs have been removed from the article. Choose from the paragraphs A – G the one which fits each gap (41-46). There is one extra paragraph which you do not need to use.
On the northern coast of Oman, climbers test themselves against knife-edge cliffs
We’re standing on a pebble beach in northern Oman with a group of local men who are fishing. Behind us rises a sheer 1,000-metre cliff that shimmers under a blistering midday sun. ‘Do you mind if I look around?’ Alex asks. ‘You can do as you please’, says the elder. As Alex wanders off, we explain to the Althouri fishermen that we’re professional rock climbers on an exploratory visit.
There are six of us in our team, including Alex, one of the best young climbers in the world. Suddenly one of the men stops in his tracks, points up at the towering cliff, and starts shouting. A thousand feet above us Alex is climbing, antlike, up the rock wall. The Althouris are beside themselves with a mix of excitement and incredulity
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 perfect for deepwater soloing, a specialized type of climbing in which you push up as far a wall as you can, then simply tumble into the water. It sounds harmless enough, but an out-of-control fall can result in serious injury or even death.
Wasting no time, Alex laces up his climbing shoes, dives from the boat, and swims to a cliff where the ocean has carved out a cavern with a five-metre overhang. Within minutes he has reached the cavern’s ceiling, where he finds a series of tiny hand holds along a protruding rib of dark grey limestone. It’s exactly the kind of challenge he has been looking for, with every move more difficult than the one before.
‘Come on!’ I scream, urging him to finish his new route. Alex lunges over the lip, but his legs swing out, and he peels off the rock and leaps into the water. That night we anchor in the bay at the base of a 150-metre Gothic tower we dub the ‘sandcastle: Before joining Alex for the climb the next morning, I suggest we take along safety gear. The young climber scoffs, saying that it’s nothing more than a hike. I think of myself as a young 44-year-old, but trying to keep up with him makes me realise how old I’m getting .
And now I’m slightly annoyed again about his disregard for whether I’m comfortable. The rock here is badly shattered, what climbers call choss. Clinging to the dead-vertical wall, I test the integrity of each hold by banging it with the heel of my hand. Sometimes the rock sounds hollow or even moves. Staring down between my legs, I see the boat bobbing in the bay far beneath us. By the time I plop down on the ledge beside him, my nerves are frazzled.
As I turn to my youthful partner for his thoughts, I see he’s already packed up. For him the moment of wonder has passed. ‘Let’s go’, Alex says impatiently. ‘If we hurry, we can get in another climb before dark’.
A From there we sail toward the ‘Lion’s Mouth’, a narrow strait named for the fang-like red and orange limestone pillars that jut from an overhang at its entrance. Alex spends the day working on a 60-metre route up one of the pillars.
B ‘What are they saying?’ I ask our translator. ‘It’s hard to explain’, he replies. ‘But essentially, 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.
C The claw-like fingers of the Musandam Peninsula below glow orange with the setting sun. Looking down at the tortuous shoreline, which fans out in every direction, we’re gazing at a lifetime’s worth of climbing.
D One of the other places we thought would be perfect for visiting by boat is As Salamah, an island in the Strait of Hormuz. We arrive in early afternoon and discover a giant rock rising from the sea. Since there is nowhere to anchor, we drop the sails and use the engines to park the boat just offshore.
E I’d already had a similar moment of awareness earlier in the trip when Alex had scampered up a 500-metre wall with our rope in his pack. ‘Hold on a second!’ I’d yelled. What if the rest of us needed it? ‘Don’t worry’, he’d replied. ‘I’ll stop when I think we need to start using the ropes.
F The men puff on the pipes and nod. The mountainous peninsula on which they live is an intricate maze of bays and fjords. Few climbers have ever touched its sheer limestone cliffs. We had learned of the area’s potential from some British climbers who visited ten years ago.
G Some defy belief. Hanging upside down, holding on to bumps in the rock no bigger than matchboxes, Alex hooks the heels of his sticky-soled shoes over a small protrusion. Defying gravity, he lets go with one hand and snatches for the next hold. Then the rock becomes too slick for a heel hook so he dangles his legs and swings like a chimpanzee from one tiny ledge to the next.