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Jebel Um Ashreen

Jebel Um Ashreen is a mass of bulging crags, rugged pinnacles and domed uplands that towers high over the sweeping sands of Wadi Rum. Its summit rises to a height of 1753m, making it Jordan's third highest peak after Jebel Rum, which stands just one metre higher at 1754m, and the 1854m-high Jebel Um Adami. Jebel Um Ashreen means Mountain of the Twenty in Arabic, after the number of people said to have perished here over the ages. According to some legends, all 20 lost their lives in a single flash flood but more plausible accounts suggest the deaths happened over many ages, mostly in quicksands near a buried water source at the mountain's bottom flanks. The Nabataeans explored Jebel Um Ashreen some 2000 years ago, cutting stairways upto hidden water sources in its lower crags. Bedouin hunters have long climbed its crags in search of ibex too. Getting to Jebel Um Ashreen's summit involves an exposed, little-known rock climb - significantly more challenging than the climb on Jebel Rum - but the majestic heartlands of the massif can be accessed more easily via a pass known as Um Ejil or the Raqaba Canyon. The pass of Um Ejil is traversed at the start of the Wadi Rum Trail, giving an excellent introduction to the kind of exposed, sandstone terrain encountered in latter stages of the route. The Wadi Rum Trail can be followed through the entire Um Ashreen region in a single day but it is recommended hikers start with a short first day, camping near the end of Um Ejil on the first night and continuing to Jebel Birda on the second day. Anybody who goes deeper in the Um Ashreen region will find it to be an area of great beauty; a realm of rippling red dunes, narrow canyons, pyramid peaks and petroglyphs, whose landscapes are richly-fabled in local  folklore. 

Trail highlights

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum, Wadi Rum Trail

A majestic sweep of red sands, Wadi Rum divides the towering massif of Jebel Um Ashreen from the neighbouring highlands of Jebel Rum. Dripping springs, ancient rock art and the ruins of a small Nabataean temple are found in Wadi Rum, showing something of its age old importance to the peoples of these deserts. It holds a special place on the Wadi Rum Trail too, with its modern village the start and end points of the circuit and the only permanent settlement anywhere on the whole route; a last-chance stop for hikers to stock up on any essentials. The trail begins at the Wadi Rum Rest House, leading 1km east over Wadi Rum to a rocky chasm known as Um Ejil

Wadi Um Ashreen

Jebel Um Ghatheeya, Wadi Rum Trail

After crossing Um Ejil hikers emerge in the sweeping red sands of Wadi Um Ashreen. The towering uplands of Jebel Khazali - another one of Wadi Rum's great massifs - is seen to the south. The opposite way, Wadi Um Ashreen runs 10km north towards the settlement of Deesa. The trail continues over Wadi Um Ashreen to traverse steep gullies, secluded basins and sandy passageways between the Um Ghatheeya and Um Kharg massifs, passing the ruins of an ancient building known as El Quseer - The Little Palace - before reaching the wide open spaces of Khor el Ajram. Scrambling of a similar difficulty to that in Um Ejil is involved on this section, but easier routes are passable north and south. 

Um Ejil, Raqaba Canyon

Raqaba Canyon, Wadi Rum Trail

Um Ejil or the Raqaba Canyon is a grand natural chasm dividing the 1753m-northern summit of Jebel Um Ashreen from the massif's southern tops, collectively known as Jebel Nasrani. Long used as a shortcut by Bedouin shepherds going between Wadi Rum and Wadi Um Ashreen, Um Ejil counts as one of the region's most popular scrambling routes today and it is traversed at the start of the Wadi Rum Trail. It involves some steep steps and an exposed traverse on which some hikers may require protection with ropes. Alternative routes also allow it to be avoided to the north and south. For more detailed information on this scramble see Raqaba Canyon and Other Scrambles

Other highlights & routes

Jebel Birda, Wadi Rum Trail

The Wadi Rum Trail takes one of the most beautiful lines through the Um Ashreen region but nevertheless gives just a brief glimpse of what is here. The three pyramid peaks of Jebel Barra and their sharp-summited neighbour, Jebel Abu Jadayda tower up in this area, representing some of Jordan's highest summits. A deep, shadowy gorge called Siq Barra winds between these summits and is home to sweeping dunes and ancient dams and graffiti. Wadi Um Ashreen is an important crossroads in this region too; more direct routes lead south towards Jebel Um Adami from here and it is also where the Wadi Rum Trail connects with a new 100km, 7 day hiking route to Petra in the north.

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