OverviewWadi Rum is a grandiose and divine desert with the live echo, one of nature miracles, paradise for fans of travel! It is possible to behold hours a panorama of its protogenic nature with rocky sandstone mountains and boundless space. Half-kilometer walls as mushrooms growing from sand are painted in all shades of the red. Numerous tops with difficult systems of cracks and canyons offer hundreds routes - from simple foot to technically difficult ascensions.
The Wadi Rum desert which as name the Lunar Valley is in the south of Jordan near to Aqaba(the big port and the tourist centre on Red Sea). It is the largest valley of Jordan. The name of Rum most likely occurs from an Aramaic root to value «high, towering». Wadi Rum has been occupied by representatives of various human cultures since the most ancient times, switching on Nabataea which left the traces in a valley a kind of temples, rock paintings. Presently in territory at Rum village lives Bedouins of the Nabataea Tribe. They are very kind and truly friendly people.
In the west Wadi Rum is known in connection with a name T.E.Lawrence who has developed his both famous and successful military operations in a valley during the Arabian revolt in 1917-18 against Turkey in the First World War. Here there was a general staff of Prince Fejsala ibn Hussein and T.E.Lawrence and their feats inseparably linked with history of this surprising district. Lawrence called Wadi Rum the Valley of God!
Concerning the Alps or Utah it is new area. Its trailblazers were Englishmen led by Toni Howard who have made many first ascents and their descriptions which are updated to this day in his guidebook "Treks & Climbs of Wadi Rum, Jordan". Englishmen have set the fashion, therefore basic quantity of routes in Wadi Rum is traditional. There are very little multipitches which have well equipped bolt paths for sports rock climbing. Today Valley of God totals about 350 routes up to 20 pitches which offer very enjoyable sustained climbing in beautiful desert scenery - red dunes, sandstones, variety rock formations and in aura which cannot be described with simple words…
The closest international airports in Jordan are in Aqaba (King Hussain) and Amman (Queen Alia). From there the best way to reach Rum village is by taxi. From Aqaba it will take about 40-50 minutes and 30JD~40$, from Amman 3-4 hours and 80-100JD~120$ (same price for 1-4 person!). In addition from either Aman or Aqaba, bus service is on a regular twice daily schedule that stops at the Rum Rest House which is located just below the tower of Jebel Rum. The Rest House is where all International Climbers come to stay. Daily meals, food, restrooms, showers and camping are the best here. You can rent a car from either Aqaba or Aman, but it is not recommended. Also you can come trough Israel airports (Tel-Aviv, Eilat) and to pass Eilat-Aqaba border.
There are no hotels! The Rest House is the only authorizd International Camping area at a very reasonable price. There are restaurant, restrooms and tents, showers, big bedouin tent for both rest and cooking. The fee per night (with your own tent) is 2JD per person(~3$). In front of Rest House there are shops in which it is possible to buy meal, water and guidebook. Also in the center of the village there are Mohammed's Al-Zalabeh "apartments" and it is possible to stay there. In different paths of the desert there are numerous campsites: Abu Aina, Sunset Camp that are highly recommended if you plan to stay in the remote part of the desert. Of course you can set your tent anywhere in silent desert and sleep nearby routes.
GeographyVicinities of Wadi Rum can be divided conditionally into seven areas:
J.Abu Judaidah (1640m)
J.Abu Khsheibah (1399m)
Rum village and the Wadi with the same name is clamped between two highest here enormous ridges of Jebel Rum and Jebel um Ishrin. In all senses it is the most interesting mountains in the area. They are the closest to village, above the others and offer more routes. Many routes are reachable by easy walk to a half an hour. But if you want to climb on the other side of the massifs you will be necessary to take 4 wheel-drive which are plenty in the village.
In the south Wadi Rum valley rests against a healthy tower of Jebel Khazali. As it costs in the desert centre its monument it is possible to see almost from everywhere. Ten minutes from Rest House on a jeep and you at a wall foot.
Having passed Wadi um Ishrin to the east from Ishrin massif you will get in Barrah Canyon area. It is the big territory with set of interesting summits, domes and sandy canyons. To reach there you can use 4 wheel-drive but if you want something special I advise to take camel trek. Though they a little below the neighbours they also offer many classical and sustained routes.
In the south from Barrah Canyon there are Domes of Abu Khsheibah and Burdah massif. It is the most remote and wild part of desert. Burdah is well-known for his amazing rock bridge. To reach Burdah massif will take about hour by car and will cost around 50JD~70$ there and back.
On the West from Jebel Khazali there are two more small summits Jebel Al Qattar and Al Maghrar which are interesting to climbers too. Many routes still wait for the fisrt ascents.
Recommended Route List
Jebel Rum Massif
Al Thalamiyyah 5-/AD Sup 500m/3km 5h day (bedouin)
Black magic 5+/D Sup 12p/300m 4h
The Inshallah Factor 6a/TD Sup 15p/500m day
Towering Inferno 6b/ED Sup 13p/500m day
The Eye of Allah 5-/AD Sup 6p/400m 6h (bedouin)
Hammad's Route 5+/AD Sup 250m/3km day (bedouin)
The Pillar of Wisdom 6b/TD Inf 11p/350m 6h
Rijm Assaf 5/AD Sup 250m/2km day (bedouin)
Lionheart 6b/ED Inf 350m/8 7h
W-E Traverse 3/AD 4km day (bedouin)
Jebel um Ishrin Massif
Rakabat Canyon(round J.um Ejil) 2/F 3km 5h (bedouin)
The Beauty 6a/TD 6p/200m 5h
Alan and his perverse Frog 6a+/TD 6p/200m 5h
Via Salim Musa 5/D 6p/200m 4h
Beautiful Last Day 6a/TD Sup 7p/300m 7h
Hiker's Road 5+/D Sup 15p/500m full day
Muezzin 6a+/ED 16p/ 400m day
Rock Fascination 6b/ED 15p/500m full day
Abraham 6a/ED 20p/450m day
Vanishing Pillar 5/TD Inf 14p/400m 8h
Les Rumeurs De La Pluie 5+/TD 4p/250m 5h
Hinte A Vous 6a/TD 7p/200m 6h
Fesse Tival 6a/TD 11p/250m 7h
Merlin's Wand(supercrack of Rum)6a+/TD 5p/150m 4h
The Star of Abu Judaidah 6b/ED Inf 7p/250m 6h
Hunter's Slabs 5-/AD Inf 300m/2km 3h
La Rose du Desert 6b/TD Sup 7p/200m 5h
No Way for Ibex 6b+/ED 14p/400m day
The Star of Abu Judaidah 6b/ED Inf 7p/220m 6h
Neige Dans le Desert 6a+/TD Sup 8p/250m 6h
North Ridge(to the rock bridge) 2/F 1.5km 2h (bedouin)
Orange Sunshine 5+/D Inf 7p/300m 4h
The Animated Slab 6a/TD 8p/250m 5h
Jebel Khazali Massif & Al Maghrar
Al Uzza 7a+/ED Sup 10p/300m full day
Sabbah's Route 2+/PD 1km 2-3hours
Desert Rats in the Shade 6b/TD 7p/200m 5h
Chief's Images and Overview
TE Lawrence called this the Valley of God. It is where he formulated his famous, successful and astonishing attack against the Turks and their 16" guns in Aqaba with 21 other Arab warriors. Allan Steck has visited this area numerous times with nothing but fine and pleasurable memories to be had. There are three different Valleys or Wadi's. Rum is the longest and deepest. The Valley is inhabited by Bedouins of the Nabateen Tribe. They have lived here for over 3000 years. The Bedouins are rich in culture and history of incredible proportion. They are truly friendly and very outgoing. Tony Howard's, "Treks & Climbs of Wadi Rum, Jordan" is the current up to date guidebook. It includes most of the current Trad and Sport "Classic" climbing routes. Most of these routes range in length from 10 to 18 pitches and many have established rappel/belay anchors from which to descend safely. One must be on the constant lookout for the occassional Viper and Scorpion that can be found hiding from the Sun on the large cool sandy belay ledges. Kudos and many thanks to Englishman, Tony Howard and crew along with Swiss brother's, C. & Y. Remy, for their many astounishing First Ascents. All of which have become Classics. Many the world over come to this incredibly beautiful area to climb and enjoy! Spring, Fall and Winter are the best seasons. The Summer is definitely way too hot, 110-130 degrees, to even contemplate playing here.
-Aquarius III 5.10a 7P's
-Renne van Hassalt IV 5.9+ 16P's
-King Hussein VI 5.10a 14P's
-Towering Inferno VI 5.10 14P's
-Great Siq III 5.9 9P's
-Inferno III 5.9+ 8P's
-Walk Like an Egyptian III 5.10a 10P's
-Coup Par Coup V 5.9+ 10P's
-Pillar of Wisdom V 5.9+ 18P's
-Le Fureure de Viure IV 5.9 16P's
JEBEL UM ISHRIN:
-Corner Line IV 5.10a 14P's
SeasonIt is possible to climb here from October till May, but the most suitable season for Wadi Rum late autumn and early spring. I advise November and March! Considering absence of water, in the summer in desert it is too hot +40 degrees of Celsius. It is possible to climb in the winter, but be attentive - sudden flooding can be very dangerous. Also try to avoid spending the night on a high-mountainous plateau - the temperature in January-February can drop to -5 degrees of Celsius.
EquipmentSince most of the routes are free from any gear and bolts is required full rack of trad gear. You will need 50-60m double ropes, set of cams, full set of nuts or stoppers, medium and long slings. Some routes can be well protected by hexes and tricams. To extend or strengthen abseil points many long lengths of tape are necessary. Steel rap rings can help to reduce a friction at time you pulling off ropes. Don't forget quickdraws, harness, helmet, shoes etc.
Also minimum of cooking and camping equipment is required. It is impossible to get gear in village, therefore all needs to be carried with yourself.
Red TapeUnfortunately, the Iraq crises has put a stifle on visting in Rum. But as of late, the Jordanian Governmant is doing their best to accomodate a continous Tourism throughout the country. Jordanian Military presence has increased to protect Westerners that wish to enjoy the area. The King has also been known to show up in his helicopter, for a day of climbing and canyoneering.
Guidebook and External Links
Guidebook - "Treks & Climbs in Wadi Rum Jordan" by Tony Howard
N.O.M.A.D.S. - Tony Howard's page
Wadi Rum Rock Page - Walter Neser's page
New Routes in Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Mountain Guides
Weather forecost of Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum climbing information
The Wadi Rum Expedition(trailer)
Wadi Rum Sunset Camp
Mohammad Hussein Al-Zalabeh - Bedouin guide
Climbing Bedouin Guide
History,Culture,Flora and Fauna