Wadi Rum, Jordan TR

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cupton

climber
Where the past and future meet
Topic Author's Original Post - May 21, 2010 - 09:50am PT
Marhaba! Just a quick trip report from the time I spent in Wadi Rum this spring. Not a specific report of climbs but a general overview of this fantastic area.

When you first arrive in Wadi Rum it is the sheer size that is overwhelming.... in many ways it is comparable to arriving in a desert Yosemite but with camels, keffiehs, veiled women and only the rare tourist.

View of Jebel Um Ishrin from the resthouse
View of Jebel Um Ishrin from the resthouse
Credit: cupton

I took a bus down to Aqaba from Damascus and then hitched a ride with the local bread delivery car into Rum Village. I was on my own with rack and rope hoping to do find a partner and smash a bit of climbing. I was in luck.

Looking at the East Face of Jebel Rum from the resthouse
Looking at the East Face of Jebel Rum from the resthouse
Credit: cupton

The view from the resthouse is wonderful... not far to the west is the massive east face of Jebel Rum and then across the street and an expanse of shifting sand is the Jebel Um Ishrin massif reaching both north and south out of view. Jebel Um Ishrin translates to the mother of twenty mountain in reference to the twenty Bedouin that died when buried by a spontaneous rockfall under clear skies some years ago.

Other than having a great view, the resthouse is the Jordanian equivalent of Camp 4 and the spot to meet other climbers.

Finnish friends racking in the resthouse with Jebel Um Ishrin in the b...
Finnish friends racking in the resthouse with Jebel Um Ishrin in the background
Credit: cupton

I initially hooked up with a pair of Finnish climbers (living in Israel and Saudi Arabia) who agreed to show me the approach into Rakabat Canyon through Goat Gully. The weather was slightly unsettled but we were stoked to get moving so we did.

Water break above Goat Gully
Water break above Goat Gully
Credit: cupton

I walking the siks (Arabic version of a slot canyon) is quite the experience. The rock is impossible to describe with my limited prose other than wild and huge. The route finding takes practice but everything is well marked by cairns placed by Bedouin. Interestingly, the Bedouin have different cairns to indicate straight on, left, right etc and can read a small pile of stones like a street sign.

Rakabat Canyon with the dunes of Wadi Um Ishrin in the distance.
Rakabat Canyon with the dunes of Wadi Um Ishrin in the distance.
Credit: cupton

Wadi Um Ishrin has some amazing red dunes.

Credit: cupton

Credit: cupton

Credit: cupton

After a staying a few days in Rum and doing a few climbs with the Finns a huge contingent of climbers showed up on the Hot Rock truck headed for South Africa. They were going to be in Rum for a few weeks and invited me to stay and climb. Needless to say, I accepted and did a bit of climbing.

Ed on the crux of Lionheart, French 6b+
Ed on the crux of Lionheart, French 6b+
Credit: cupton

Ed above the crux on Lionheart, 6b+
Ed above the crux on Lionheart, 6b+
Credit: cupton

Me on Black Magic, French 5+
Me on Black Magic, French 5+
Credit: cupton

Ed leading the first pitch off the pedestal on the Pillar of Wisdom
Ed leading the first pitch off the pedestal on the Pillar of Wisdom
Credit: cupton

Me leading the final pitch on Pillar of Wisdom
Me leading the final pitch on Pillar of Wisdom
Credit: cupton

Ed on something...
Ed on something...
Credit: cupton

We stayed for a few weeks and did some fantastic climbs. One of the memorable moments for me was getting caught on the sixth pitch on Pillar of Wisdom and watching the most incredible sandstorm roll through the valley below us, ripping the roofs off houses and making an incredible noise. We then got caught in a flash flood on the descent which was a first for me and pretty exciting! As we bailed off we left 24 pieces of gear behind and both our ropes The sandstone was washing away as we watched so we put a few extra pieces in for peace of mind... We retrieved all our gear a few days later. We then returned and sent the 350 meter route in just under six hours, camp to camp which felt good.

Taken after descending from midway up the Pillar of Wisdom. The pillar...
Taken after descending from midway up the Pillar of Wisdom. The pillar is the formation to the right of the obvious waterfall that was not there when we started...
Credit: cupton

There are so many fantastic lines in Rum I know I will be going back sometime, hopefully soon. There is a guidebook by Tony Howard and a stack of hand drawn topos in the resthouse but there is an infinite desert of rock out there waiting for intrepid souls to explore.

The approaches are part of the fun
The approaches are part of the fun
Credit: cupton

Where else can you do an approach by camel?
Where else can you do an approach by camel?
Credit: cupton

Rum is an adventure climbing area with few bolts for either protection or stations. The rock takes some getting used to as it is sandstone and might or might not stay where you want it to. The routes are long and committing; rescue is not an option. But all these things add to the magic. You can do long approaches by camel, feast with Bedouin in a goat hair tent and walk alone through the stone deserts of your dreams...

Rum the magnificent... vast, echoing and godlike... a processional way greater than imagination... the crimson sunset burned on its stupendous cliffs and slanted ladders of hazy fire down its walled avenue.
TE Lawrence

Ahlan wa sahlan!
Delhi Dog

Trad climber
Good Question...
May 21, 2010 - 09:59am PT
Excellent TR!
I have also been to Wadi Rum and your descriptions are right on.
Total adventure off the track and tons of exploration left.
Having Aqaba so close with killer swimming/snorkeling is a real bonus too.

Thanks for the share...I look forward to visiting there again some day.
TE was an incredible dude given what he did and how he lived in those days...

Cheers,
DD
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
May 21, 2010 - 10:03am PT
exotic TR, good stuff!
C4/1971

Trad climber
Depends on the day...
May 21, 2010 - 10:05am PT
A spectacular trip report! Thanks!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
May 21, 2010 - 10:06am PT
Wow! That's what I like, a TR about a place I know nothing about. What area in the States has comparable rock?
mooser

Trad climber
seattle
May 21, 2010 - 10:13am PT
Fantastic! Thanks for posting this!
Tozo

Trad climber
East of West
May 21, 2010 - 10:18am PT
holy crap, looks what an awesome place. Gotta get there some day. It looks like things are pretty inexpensive after airfare and such?
wild lands, flash floods, sand, stone and sun! never enough of that kinda stuff.
awesome photos as well.
Zander

Trad climber
Berkeley
May 21, 2010 - 10:22am PT
What a great trip you had! Thanks for posting.
There is more great rock on this planet than will ever be climbed.
One more place to dream about.
Zander
Scared Silly

Trad climber
UT
May 21, 2010 - 10:22am PT
Nice little TR.

Jim, I was out in Jordon in mid/late 90s. For a boy living in Utah the Rum is a mix of Zion and Red Rocks with the adventure of the Escalante and Swell thrown in.
noshoesnoshirt

climber
Arkansas, I suppose
May 21, 2010 - 10:31am PT
Thanks for the post, looks like an incredible place.
The Chief

Trad climber
from the Land where Free Mongols still roam!
May 21, 2010 - 10:36am PT
Oh Wadi Rum.... Spent a many weeks climbing above and around Lawrence's well.

Had it not been for the War, my plans were to retire in Aqaba and climb climb climb in the Rum!

Nice TR and glad that you all could experience the awesomeness of this incredible region!




Tradmedic

Ice climber
Thunder Bay, Ontario
May 21, 2010 - 10:46am PT
Wow! Thanks for the TR.
Jeremy

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
May 21, 2010 - 10:53am PT
SANDSTONE BUMP!!!!!!!!!!!!

Man I GOTTA get out there!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
May 21, 2010 - 10:57am PT
Awsome!!! How is the rock it looks soft, but if you are getting way out there it must be pretty solid. Kind of looks like if the Black Velvet wall and Indian Creek had a son...
Pate

Trad climber
May 21, 2010 - 10:59am PT
Wow. Best TR of 2010. That place looks amazing.

I think that this is the place that there is an old French climbing film from, maybe from the late 70's early 80's? Anyone know?
philo

Trad climber
Somewhere halfway over the rainbow
May 21, 2010 - 11:23am PT
I whole heartilly concur, that was a most excellent adventure. Thank you for posting a great TR.
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
May 21, 2010 - 11:29am PT
Great Great Great Great!!

Almost makes me miss the Middle East.
Almost......
lars johansen

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 21, 2010 - 11:56am PT
Excellent TR!!!! I'll probably never get there so thanks for the trip.


Best,
lars
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
May 21, 2010 - 12:20pm PT
Verrry cooool! Or not if it was raining.
My wife visited Petra 45 years ago when riding a donkey in was not something you did just to play at being adventurous.

What a coincidence - just a week ago I scored a first edition of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom at an estate sale for $2!!!!! Score!!!!!!
Timid TopRope

Social climber
Paradise, CA
May 21, 2010 - 12:37pm PT
Excellent TR! I've seen some of Delhi Dog's pictures from Wadi Rum so I knew he would be one of the first to comment. As you can see by DD's avatar pic, he is well versed in that area.

Thanks for the share
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