AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Asia, Jordan, Wadi Rum, New Routes from 2006 and 2007

New routes from 2006 and 2007. In October and November of both 2006 and 2007, James Garrett from the USA and Andreas (Res) von Känel from Switzerland (a mountain guide and brother of the late Jurg von Kanel) climbed a number of new routes in and around Wadi Rum and Wadi Araba. Al Hasani is an impressive rock formation situated close to the little Bedouin village of Disi, and between Obeid’s Bedouin Camp and the Camp of Lawrence in Sig Um Tawagi. Prior to 2006 it was unclimbed. In October of that year the American-Swiss pair put up Bedouin Camel Boys, a five-pitch route at 5c. The line is sustained and well protected, providing magnificent hand cracks leading to spectacular face climbing. While they were climbing, local camel boys cheered them on and prepared some tea for their return. Parties repeating this route have found it very worthwhile, giving moderate but sustained climbing, purity of line, nice sequences, each pitch having varied climbing, and the route well protected yet not over-bolted. It appears to have the potential to be a popular classic, and the rappel line is direct, yet largely separate from the climb. They returned in November 2007 and added three short routes. Two hundred meters from Obeid’s Camp, in the opposite direction to Al Hasani, they put up various one-pitch routes.

In November 2006, they visited Jebel Kharaz, situated to the left of the well-known tourist site of Kharaz Rock Bridge, where they put up various short face and crack routes to 6a, and then another new shorter route in the Abu N’Khala Towers just south of Rum Village. The pair then traveled to Petra and from there on to the Little Petra turn-off. From here they continued along the road toward Wadi Araba for six kilometers (from the Beidah-Little Petra junction), where there is a large rock formation that the local Bedouin call Sh’Karet M’Said. Many actually refer to it as The Face, due to a distinctive facial likeness of the West Face. Garrett and von Kanel climbed up through the “mouth,” then followed the left side of the “nose” and up past the right “eye,” where they had to negotiate the overhanging “eyelid.” The five-pitch line, christened The Face (5c: November 2006), gives enjoyable and well-protected climbing with some spectacular sequences and fine views up the Jordan Valley and toward the Dead Sea.

Walking a few hours through the valley in which Little Petra is situated, they found a fine formation with a blunt yet striking, north-facing arete. This gave the seven-pitch Bedouin Life (6a, 2006); from the summit an initial easy descent of the far side led to a series of rappels down the south face. The route was climbed on natural protection and is far from any tourist locations/ruins.

In November 2007 Garrett was introduced to the Siq Bajeah (a.k.a. Baaga or Ba’ja) by a local tribesman who grew up in Little Petra. In this little known (to climbers) canyon he rope-soloed King Faisal (three pitches, 5a, named after the tribesman himself), an enjoyable route on excellent black sandstone, which followed hand cracks interspersed with overhanging features sporting huge patina holds. He installed bolted belay anchors, but from the top walked off west on a huge ledge before rappelling to the ground. He notes huge potential for new routes in this region of very good rock.

Garrett notes that none of these climbs was in any way near or part of the famous ancient ruins of Petra. He says that climbing in Petra where the ruins lie would be both inconsiderate and disrespectful, particularly as there is so much unclimbed rock left in Jordan. Nevertheless, these new routes lie within the Petra Archaeological Park, where currently climbing is not allowed. [See the following access report from Tony Howard.]

At the venues they climbed, it was as if they had stumbled on the best parts of Utah’s Canyonland cracks combined with Nevada’s Red Rock featured stone (though Wadi Rum is more featured and therefore even more “climber friendly”). Garrett noted that even just 10km from Rum Village it is still similar to the unclimbed American Southwest that greeted such activists as Harvey T. Carter and George Hurley in the 1960s. Garrett and von Känel found the local people the most gracious and generous imaginable, and the land gentle, friendly, and safe. [Some of these 2006 climbs were reported in the AAJ 2007 based on infor mation in the Guest House logs, but there were errors in the reporting, which we hope have been straightened out above.—Ed.]

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO Editor, www.clitnbmagazine.com