Wadi Rum in southern Jordan is one of the world's great rock climbing destinations. It is also one of the world's great landscapes. Surreal wind sculpted towers, domes, mountains and whole massifs riven by complex systems of canyons and sub-canyons rise up to two thousand feet above broad desert valleys and deep red dunes. It provided the magnificent backdrop to David Lean's epic "Lawrence of Arabia", and its choice more recently as the location for the "The Martian" and at least three other films set on that planet attest to its stunning otherworldliness.
Robert Durran explores the sandstone climbing in this magnificent desert setting.
Great article Robert. I imagine people around the world will find it a useful and encouraging resource/inspiration.
I had my honeymoon in Wadi Rum, scrambling Bedouin Routes with the wife, and loved it. I'd love to return to climb more, and you've just provided the ultimate tick list
Great article! I visited Wadi Rum in 2012 and it was one of my most memorable and amazing holidays/ climbing trips ever.
We were a group of three women and one man and we stayed with a Bedouin in Rum village. We were treated very respectfully and hospitably by the locals even when we ventured out without our male friend with us.
In addition as you say there is lots to do for people climbing at all grade ranges. We only climb around Vs/Hvs but found plenty to do in that grade range and below, particularly the Bedouin routes which weave their way through some incredible territory.
Thanks for the comments everyone. I hope the article encourages a few more people to visit Rum. I'm already thinking of my next trip; it's one of those places I know I'll always want to return to, even if only to potter around in the desert in my old age. And I also need to do a couple more classics before doing a possible follow up article on the Bedouin routes.
> What would you consider a minimum trip length? Is it feasible to have a week's trip there, or would this not be enough?
Hi Will, although longer would be better, it would certainly be possible to have a very worthwhile week's trip. Most flights seem to arrive and leave in the small hours, so, using taxis efficiently, it is possible to do something on the day of arrival and have a full day at the end before travelling to the airport in the evening. You would be unlucky to have a short trip messed up by the weather and you are all but guaranteed dry weather outside the short winter. You could do quite a lot in six or seven days, including two or three nights in an outlying area of the desert or a traverse of Jebel Rum and some routes from the village
> When you say Winter, would that refer specifically to Dec-Feb/Dec-Jan/Jan-Feb?
Just checked the monthly average total rainfall figures in Tony Howard's book:
Other months zero.
.......so not exactly a lot and it tends to come in shortlived bursts.
I've been six times for two weeks, once in November, three times in December and twice at the end of March/beginning of April. I've had three days of precipitation (one of snow high up on Jebel Rum...... a good mini epic tale there!), all in December. Given the choice, unless heat on non-shady routes is a major consideration,I'd go in the spring for the pleasure of warmer nights, longer days and the flowers in the desert.
> Are there any easier routes? It's been on my to-do list for years, but if there's nothing under HVS then I'll give it a miss!
The article focuses on conventional, technical pitch by pitch routes with uncomplcated (mostly direct abseil) descents which are unlikely to result in epics and benightments (for instance I left out the classic Pillar of Wisdom for this reason - see the logbooks!)
And I think these mostly start at about VS or so, though there may be good exceptions I've not done - happy to hear suggestions from anyone.
But the Bedouin routes mean that Rum is a paradise for experienced and competent lower grade climbers, from easy scrambles upwards. Indeed they are, in many ways the best thing about the place and what makes the climbing unique. You can have a brilliant time at any grade as long as you like adventurous routefinding! As I said in a post above, I'm thinking of a follow up article highlighting some Bedouin classics after I've checked a couple more out myself. The guidebook will point you at the best of them, though I could give some personal recommendations if you iike.
Interestingly, I've been talking to my climbing partner from a trip to Rum in 2014 who says he wouldn't visit the country now because of security considerations. The general FCO travel advice ( https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/jordan/safety-and-security ) hasn't changed since I was last there in December 2015, but obviously you should keep an eye on developments and make your own decision. it is perhaps worth noting the advice to arrange taxis with a known reliable driver.
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