Fighting the Scary Mountain

Max Calderan Moreeb Dune

The feat, which he did without stopping took him exactly 22 hours and 20 minutes, averaging 2.2 ascents per hour.

The most challenging aspect of the adventure, Calderan said, was the slippery sand.

"For every 40 or 50 centimetres I went up, I'd go back down 15 centimetres," he said.

Calderan, an Italian national, is no stranger to seemingly impossible feats of physical endurance. Several years ago, Calderan ran 250km across the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt while fasting, and in March, he set out on foot to cover 340km of the Tropic of Cancer, between the Saudi and Omani borders in the UAE.

A few months later, during Ramadan, he covered 150km between the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai, in 24 hours, including daylight hours in which he abstained from food and water.

The Moreeb Dune, he said, was a completely different sort of adventure. "It was strange. It was the first time I had ever done anything like this in a safe place," he said. "There were cars and bikers driving over nearby dunes."

The decision to climb the dune 45 times, he said, is an ode to the people and leadership of the UAE, which recently celebrated its 45th National Day.

"The reason the UAE is strong was because of 45 years of effort," the desert explorer.

"And because of training and vision. Nothing comes without effort, discipline and strong rules. The UAE is a perfect inspirational model."

The 20-hour climb, Calderan remembers fondly, gave him plenty of time to think.

"I don't usually think much when I do this sort of thing. But with all the steps, I made a decision to think a lot," he said. "I thought about how best to inspire people."

"The main message I want to send is that when people face big problems, it is important to be disciplined, with a strong mindset and clear vision," he added.

Reflecting on the climb and his other feats of physical endurance, Calderan noted that desert exploration has taught him that "nothing is impossible."

"Everything can be managed, and we can always win."


Moreeb Dunes is supposedly the tallest dune in the UAE, and one of the largest hill climbs in the world.

To honour the UAE, Dubai-based desert explorer Max Calderan has climbed and descended the daunting Moreeb Dune 45 times - the equivalent of climbing the Burj Khalifa 16 times without rest.

The Moreeb Dune - which in Arabic means "scary mountain" - is approximately 300 metres tall, with a 50-degree slope, which meant that Calderan ascended 391 metres each of the 45 times - a grand total of 17,595 metres, which, with an equivalent number on the descents, totals over 35km in length.

In terms of altitude, Calderan climbed the equivalent of 13,500 metres. For comparison sake, Mount Everest - the world's tallest mountain - is 8,848 metres tall, and the Burj Khalifa is 828 metres tall.

Max Calderan Moreeb Dune

Know the challenge

> Max Calderon climbed Moreeb Dune 45 times marking each year of the UAE's existence

> Total length: 45x391 metres up and 391 metres down each time, for an equivalent of 35,190 metres, or 35.19 kilometres.

> Total Altitude covered: 45x300 metres, for a total of 13,500 metres.

> Started the challenge at 13.20 on December 10

> Calderon ended at 11.40 on December 11

> Total time he took was 22 hours and 20 minutes

> Average pace of the climbing: 2.2 ascents per hour

> The dune is 300 metres tall, with a 50-degree slope.

The Moreeb Dune 

Moreeb Dunes in Liwa, located approximately 222km from Abu Dhabi is supposedly the tallest dune in the UAE, and one of the largest hill climbs in the world.

Its altitude is about 300 metres with a slope of 50 degrees and is 1,600 meters long.

Because of its steep slopes it has been given the name Moreeb Dune which means

Scary Mountain.