A towering mass of high domes, juniper-dotted hollows and deep, shadowy chasms said to be the dwelling place of jinn, Jebel Rum is one of the great mountain jewels of Jordan, the Middle East and the wider world. Towering upto a height of 1754m this is a mountain of perennial springs, verdant sweeps of wild plants and large herds of ibex and has long been at the heart of survival for peoples of these deserts, remaining a special place for Wadi Rum's Bedouin today. Jebel Rum lost its status as Jordan's highest peak when Jebel Um Adami was integrated into its territory in a 1960s border realignment with Saudi Arabia but it remains the most majestic, richly-fabled mountain of this region and a traverse of its summit gives the most spectacular ending to a hike on the Wadi Rum Trail. Jebel Rum is usually ascended on the penultimate day of a hike, with the ninth night spent bivvying in a basin below the summit and the tenth day devoted solely to its descent. It counts neither as a hike or a scramble but the most serious mountaineering route on the trail, involving short pitches of exposed rock climbing, tricky routefinding and multiple long abseils. Ropes, harnesses and other climbing equipment must be carried by hikers and it is essential to employ Bedouin climbing guides, arranging them in advance to ensure they will be ready on-trail on the last two days of a longer hike. Jebel Rum can be ascended on alternative routes to the one outlined here, including a superb alternative known as the Thamudic or Nabataean route, of which at least the lower steps count as one of the earliest known rock climbs in the world. For hikers wanting to avoid the climb an easy walking passage known as Raqaba Abu Eina leads through the mountain's southern crags back to Wadi Rum.
Jebel Rum: Jordan's jewel
A traverse of Jebel Rum represents one of the great highlights of the Wadi Rum Trail and one of the Middle East's best mountaineering adventures. The route runs west to east and involves single pitches of grade three rock climbing, serious exposure and abseils of up to 45m, with tricky routefinding throughout. The Wadi Rum Trail follows an old hunting route - pioneered by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Auwad of the Zalabia clan around a century ago - that leads up the southern side of a deep, shadowy gorge known as The Great Siq. This counts as Jebel Rum's easiest ascent route and it was along it Sheikh Hamdan himself guided some of the first outsiders to the mountain's summit in the 1950s.
Jebel Rum: the descent
Jebel Rum's traverse is completed with a descent of its sheer eastern crags to Wadi Shellali. This is a technical route with multiple abseiling pitches and an intricate line is followed on which careful routefinding is required throughout. The first abseils are short, simple steps, secured by bolts. These get progressively longer as the descent continues into a deep shadowy gorge, after which abseils are made on more open crags with at least part of the last one free-hanging. Bolts and threads allow all these abseils to be secured but check every anchor before using it and do not use old slings left on anchors by other climbers. After the last abseil, Wadi Shellali gives an easy walk down to Wadi Rum.
Jebel Rum: the ascent
Hikers begin by ascending the broken black footslopes of Jebel Rum to the north, soon veering into the rocky jaws of The Great Siq. A succession of rocky steps are ascended from the bottom of the gorge to a narrow terrace that rises gradually up the right side of the Siq. An ascent of the terrace involves several narrow, exposed traverses - on which good handholds give security - but otherwise the main obstacle is a single pitch of grade three climbing in a chimney. At the end of the terrace, the trail winds between domes and basins to the summit. Anchors of different kinds allow most of the ascent to be protected. For more information on this route see Climbing Jebel Rum.
Other highlights & routes
Caves, springs, pinnacles, petroglyphs and landscapes richly-fabled in Bedouin folklore are found all over Jebel Rum and the mountain can be discovered on many different routes from nearly every side. The summit traverse can be made on different Bedouin climbs to that followed by the Wadi Rum Trail and avoided entirely by following Raqaba Abu Eina; a walking route that cuts through Jebel Rum's southern crags, leading from the plains on its western side to the small Bedouin hamlet of Abu Eina, after which low, rocky passes can be crossed back to Wadi Rum Village. Another hiking route, which can also be followed back to the village in one day, leads around the northern side of Jebel Rum.