Raqaba Canyon & other scrambles
A dark, shadowy chasm cutting through Jebel Um Ashreen, the Raqaba Canyon or Um Ejil as it's known to the Bedouin, is a scrambling route traversed at the beginning of the Wadi Rum Trail. It begins with a walk up the broken black skirts of Jebel Um Ashreen to a band of low red cliffs, which are scrambled up to a small, stony plateau. This is crossed to enter the chasm of Um Ejil, where a traverse of smooth, sloping ledges on the left side of the chasm represent the first difficulty. The main obstacles following this are two short, steep down scrambles. Hikers emerge in the sweeping sands of Wadi Um Ashreen after crossing Um Ejil, which is traversed south to a sandy basin at the foot of another massif, known as Um Ghatheeya. Hikers continue over this basin to a low, rocky pass, where an intricate, little-known scrambling route leads up to the left over the high parts of Um Ghatheeya. A short but steep, awkward scramble is involved up a narrow gully, similar in difficulty to the scrambling in Um Ejil, after which it is mostly a rugged walk over Um Ghatheeya's high parts to the sandy wadi of El Khorj. With the exception of Jebel Birda, only short, easy-angled sections of scrambling are involved on the route before Jebel Um Adam. The route to Jebel Um Adami's summit involves straightforward scrambling on big ledges at the beginning, after which it is mostly a walk to the top. Getting down the crest of the west ridge counts as a rugged walk with some scrambling over large boulders. The main difficulty on Jebel Um Adami comes when descending Wadi Um Adami to the north; two high waterfall drops are found in its bottom course which are usually bypassed with a short but exposed traverse on sloping ledges to the left, which feels similar to the first traverse in Um Ejil.
Rujoom: a beginner's note
Hikers will notice small piles of stones assembled on top of eachother in the mountains of Wadi Rum. Made by the Bedouin to mark the way through complex terrain, one of these is known a 'rojom' with 'rujoom' the plural. They might be larger or smaller in size, stacking several stones or just two. Sometimes, a rojom might even be one stone placed somewhere it could not have got to naturally. Each one is made within eyeshot of the next, allowing them to be followed in a continuous line from beginning to end. Rujoom can be helpful in finding the way on tricky scrambles but caution must be exercised in using them too; hikers and climbers have often added their own, putting them in the wrong places whilst dismantling correctly-placed existing ones.
Whilst some hikers will feel comfortable traversing the scrambling sections of the Wadi Rum Trail without ropes others will require protection. Some routes have been bolted in Wadi Rum but it is mostly natural anchors that must be constructed on the scrambling routes outlined above if they are required. Slings can be placed around suitably large, sturdy boulders or threaded through natural holes in the sandstone and climbing nuts can be placed in natural cracks. Where traverses need to be protected Bedouin guides will usually stretch a rope across the exposed section, securing it with multiple natural anchors above. A checklist of scrambling equipment sufficient to protect the various routes above is sketched out below.
Other classic scrambles
Wadi Rum is home to superb hiking and scrambling routes alongside the main circuit of the Wadi Rum Trail. These can sometimes be integrated into a journey on the Wadi Rum Trail as alternatives to other sections of the main route. Short, stand-alone sections of the main route might also be combined with other hiking and scrambling routes to create totally different circuits in the region. Hikes and scrambles traverse every part of Wadi Rum's deserts and range in length and difficulty. Some are straightforward walks, others mix walking with scrambling and perhaps sections of abseiling. A selection of the best routes around the Wadi Rum Trail are outlined in 10 Classic Hikes & Scrambles. Also see 10 Classic Bedouin Climbs and 10 Classic Climbs.
This equipment is suitable for protecting the scrambling routes outlined above. Others in the region may require extra gear. It has crossovers with the climbing gear for Jebel Birda & Jebel Rum, but a few differences too. Some hikers will feel confident scrambling the routes above without protection & will consider what is below an excess. Nevertheless what is given below will allow each section to be protected if required. As progress is made along the Wadi Rum Trail hikers will get a better feel for what is involved on scrambling sections & can make decisions with their guides about exactly what to carry.
1. CLIMBING HARNESS: Every hiker should have their own harness. It will be used to attach quickly into ropes.
2. 6x SCREW CARABINERS. 1 for personal use, clipping into ropes where required. 5 extra between the party, mostly for securing natural anchors above traverses.
3. 1 x 50m ROPE: Just one rope carried on the journey will be sufficient for every scramble above.
4. 5 x SLINGS: 3 x 240cm, 2 x 120cm. Exposed traverses will often be secured by creating multiple thread anchors above the routes with slings so bring enough.
5. CLIMBING NUTS: Assortment of differently-sized climbing nuts for making extra anchors if necessary.
6. HELMET: Optional, but recommended.