Jabal Rum or Jabel Rum, with its highest peak at 1734 mt, is a massif located in the Wadi Rum desert, a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southern Jordan popular for its martian landscape and its rock formations.
This group of mountains fits into one of the most beautiful landscape contexts of the area.
In this area there are many multi-pitch climbing routes, hiking routes and alpine routes, also specifically called bedouin routes like this one we did, because of their context.
Most of the routes are given alpine grades. It is magnificent and adventurous climbing in a spectacular wilderness area. Mainly long and serious routes that often have complex descents, the highlight being the traditional Bedouin hunting routes some over 2000 years old.
No retro-bolting should be undertaken but recently development of new long sport multi pitches has taken place. Some abseil chains are bolted.
Jabal Ram is the second highest peak in Jordan and the highest peak in the central Rum, rising directly above Rum valley, opposite Jebel um Ishrin, which is possibly one metre lower.
For this climb we relied on certified local guides who know the areaand who also assisted us with the equipment.
I strongly advise against undertaking this type of activity without a guide as getting lost is very easy, the gpx tracks are not reliable and the signage is often misleading.
JABAL RUM WE CROSSING, A BEDOUIN ROUTE IN WADI RUM
STARTING POINT / Wadi Rum Desert (1.030 mt)
EQUIPMENT / hiking boots, harness, helmet, ropes, descender,
DISTANCE / 12 km total
TIME / 8 hours
OVERALL TIME / all day
MAX ALTITUDE / 1734 mt
ELEVATION GAIN / 700 mt
DIFFICULTY / D+
TOTAL ABSAILES / 7 (max 45 mt)
HIKERS / Giulio, Daniele, Ali and Salame
On the 5th of October Daniele myself embark on a new adventuring to go climb Jabal Rum (1734 mt) crossing the whole mountain range from West to East, and then descend to the Wadi Rum village.
Woke up at 5.30 to leave at 6am from Sun City Camp.
We arrived at the starting point around 6.30 and got ready and equipped to climb.
At 7am we left the car. The trail immediately started uphill along a steep landslide made of boulders and rocks of different sizes and composition.
The trail was marked at times, fortunately we had two expert guides with us, Ali and Salame, Ali from Amman expert in climbing and climbing techniques and Salame first and only recognized Bedouin guide expert in terms of geography of the area.
We followed Salame who was opening up the climb, but despite this the direction was clear, to climb to the top.
The View behind us, stunning!
In half an hour we did the approaching ascent. We sat down and enjoy the panorama.
We turned left and followed the ledge up to the canyon cove which would take us inside the mountain and then continue climbing.
We then started climbed along the rocky walls which had a firm grip on the shoes.
Disconnected blocks of rock pushed us upwards following the curves given by water and rain
We arrived inside the bottom of the mountain canyon where the sand, some pools of water and some vegetation resilient to aridity and adverse conditions found its space.
The light began to filter from the opposite side, to the east, from which we had started our hike.
We arrived at our first stop for a little snack before keeping going up.
There were engraved some inscriptions in the walls of the caved rock.
They were Thamudic inscriptions.
Petroglyphs and inscriptions illustrate the 12.000 years of human occupation in Wadi Rum desert. They tell us stories about the history and evolution of human activity in the Arabian Peninsula. With over 25,000 petroglyphs and over 20,000 inscriptions, mostly Thamudic, Wadi Rum desert is a truly unique place on earth.
The numerous inscriptions found in Wadi Rum desert are made in four different North-Arabian scripts. Thamudic, Nabatean, Islamic an Arabic. They show the very early development of alphabetical writing among the societies in the peninsula.
Thamudic is a name invented by nineteenth-century scholars for large numbers of inscriptions in Ancient North Arabian (ANA) alphabets which have not yet been properly studied. These texts are found over a huge area from southern Syria to Yemen.
The trail climbs up the mountain, the holds are good and the rock is good. the air was starting to heat up and we suddenly we reached on a fragmented rock plateau where we stopped for a second break and take some photos of the view
A window on the Wadi Rum desert
As we go up the rock is more and more exposed to wind, water and sun, and it begins to have softer and more rounded shapes and lines.
The formation of Wadi Rum took place in 6 significant stages.
Over 1 billion years ago the granite base stone was formed. These are observed in harder black and white rock exposed at the base of the sandstone cliffs. Then the quartz sand deposits came from rivers that flowed from the south around 500 millions years ago. Compaction compressed the sand into rock and fossilised the remnants of marine life. The sea levels dropped and subsequently the entire region including South-East Jordan, Western Saudi Arabia, South East Egypt and Sudan were uplifted from tectonic movement.
The Red Sea rift fractured, separating the Arabian peninsula from the African continent where most of the sediment originated.
Physical erosion by water and wind has gradually altered the porous sandstone, dragging the sediment into the deep sandy valleys.
This phenomenon has left on the peaks of these mountainous structures some caps commonly called domes. Blocks of rock that appear white, smooth as if they were the cap of the mushrooms. They can be seen on the rock formations around 1400 meters of altitude.
The terrain changed drastically, but above all to the geological conformity. We started walking exposed to the sun, but with a pleasant breeze. The good thing about most deserts is that they are well ventilated.
We felt like we were walking on the moon or on a giant mouse cast. a porous and sandy but extremely adherent rock.
The primary importance during such a hike is to have plenty of water because you lose a lot of fluids, without realizing it. a hat that protects well from the sun and sunstrokes
Every corner, every step we took was a different context, a constant amazement; on the other hand we are not used to this type of landscape.
As you may have noticed we kept the helmet for most of the hike, especially essential to have it in the starting part of the climbing till the 1400 mt at least, where you never know what might come down from the top.
We kept a very good pace and we could finally see the peak of the massif.
Still a good steep climb to face.
The air was caressing us and we were determined to reach the summit in record time. After a few last exposed passages and a climb that put a strain on our calves we arrived to the final push.
We made it to the top in 4 hours a very good timing. The 360° view from there, breathtaking.
We were standing at 1,734 metres on the the Jabal Rum summit.
From here we could admire Jebel Um Ishrin and its 6 peaks, Jabel khazali massif with its 2 peaks, Burdah and Domes of Abu Khsheibah, Jabel Qattar and Jabel al liyah.
We rested for an hour and enjoyed the view in the breeze, and appreciated the good fortune of being the only ones on the highest point in the area.
Was about 12pm when we started descending, keeping our direction towards east.
Going down we encountered forms of vegetation attached to life, and definitely attached to that mountain as if it were its last chance to survive teaching us the value of nature, of water and life.
We started descending to the other side of the massif, crossing it, yet another landscape. resambling a huge ice cream container full of coffe and chocolate flavours.
Again some castings appeared on the walls of the rocks as if they were caramelised. The erosion of the wind and water which crystallized and settled almost as in the stalactite process.
Here and there we found shelter in the shade, only place where to rest away from the heat and the sun, as the animals do.
On the other hand, these mountains have been a place of refuge, sources of food and water for many animals, among these, in this area it is still roaming the Nubian ibex, a species of desert goat found in the mountainous areas of northern Africa and northeastern and Middle East. .
Not surprisingly the Bedouin Routes are called like this; back in time the men of the desert, the bedouins, started following the traces of animals in search of food and water and for that had to learn how to climb the mountains, adapt and explore the impervious territory to make up for his survival.
And as animals we are, we found shade again to sit and have our lunch.
Salame kindly lighted a fire for a chai, the traditional tea made and served whenever it's possible to do it, almost in any situation. The best part of being in the Wadi Rum.
Salame didn't speak much, despite he could speak english pretty well.
A nice soul, a good guy, and an extremely fit guide, always with a smile on his face.
He was always ahead leading us, always retracing the trail. We were hiking, for him was walking. Ali more talkative, gave us many informations and shared knowledge about the hike and the place. He is from Amman and go up in the mountains to climb and hike whenever he can.
Lunch was good, we took another hour to relax and restore some energies.
We packed, left no traces of our stop, collected our wastes and empty bottles and equipped with harness, descending tools and ropes.
Although the descent is facilitated by 6 rappels, it was not synonymous with speed.
After some short abseils of barely 10 meters we end up inside the other half of the fracture that cross the Jabal Rum Massif. We where again inside a canyon. But this time we were going down.
This was maybe the second most beautiful abseil we did, easy and smooth 40 meters descent. down to the gorge of the canyon.
The abseils were all safe and bolted with redundancy, perhaps I would have preferred to see a third link in some cases to be extra secure. The positioning of some abseils was not optimal for the descent, but over all ok.
From this side the results of mother nature were extremely visible, the walls of the mountain that surrounded us were all cracked and peeled and the block of rock fell like rain, collapsing into the gully we were walking along.
We arrived at another climbing stop, the most beautiful I had ever had. Another repeal down for us, another 30 meters down the cliff.
We took it slow and enjoyed every single moment.
Shortly after another rappel, the longest, 45 meters, the most demanding and the most tortuous, certainly the least funny one.
After the sixth rappel, a long hike downhill among the giant boulders was waiting for us, but the view once again was breathtaking.
At this point we weren't tired, but knees started to feel the pressure, we kept going following the trail, sometimes visible sometimes not, our checkpoint was a big figue tree. That's where we were aiming at.
Arrived to the tree we followed a long staircase that took us straight to Salame's car. We arrived at the end point of the climb at 5pm.
We drove to Salam's house for another round of chai.