Brian Coones spends most of his days working as a fitness coach for Regime Fitness in Dubai. But the outdoors enthusiast is also an avid climber and can often be found scaling slabs of rock or boulders and hanging from cliffs in the UAE and Oman.
In addition to fitness training, you also work as a climbing coach. How did you get started?
I started climbing on indoor walls when I was a teenager. My love has grown from there … to the military, where I learnt more about rope and safety techniques. After the military, I completed [climbing courses].
How often do you take exploratory excursions off hours?
Just about every weekend you can expect to find me somewhere in the mountains climbing something with friends. Even in the summer months we don't let the heat stop us. During Eid I even took a week off to go to Thailand for climbing and every trip I have taken for the past few years [has] been to go climbing or caving.
Do you use a harness when climbing for fun?
There are several different types of climbing. I practise five of them in the UAE and Oman, two of which I do not use a harness or ropes for.
Isn't this kind of climbing dangerous?
With every sport there are certain dangers and risks of injury. This is why the use of proper personal protective equipment (rope, harness and anchors) and proper safety techniques is crucial to reduce the risks. With bouldering and deep-water soloing, where falling and landing on a mat or in water are going to happen, it is as important to practise proper falling techniques as to land properly. There is an art to falling.
How have you used your off hours time to start a mini-business guiding others in climbs?
On the weekends I organise carpools to climbing areas. I also organise boat trips for deep-water soloing. These outings are open to anyone with an adventurous spirit and wants to get away from the city; however, anyone who does come out does so at their own risk. Due to all of my activity and influence in the climbing community I have picked up semi-professional sponsorship for climbing, caving and other activities on ropes. I am also part of an initiative to promote safe climbing in the region.
What's your goal in the future within the climbing business?
My goal is to operate an indoor climbing, training facility with a gym and to work as a role-model for promoting safe climbing. I am currently developing business plans and working with a few organisations to make my goals a reality. I [am also] working on the Middle East Caving Expeditionary Team … to build a safe caving community. We are training with a group of individuals on proper rope, safety and rescue techniques to launch independent and self-sustained expeditions on the weekends to further explore the caves in Oman over the next several months.
* Neil Parmar