Wadi Shelaali Climbs, topo

Rakabat Um Raïfiq
– North-South Bedouin Route from Wadi Shelaali to Abu Aïna,
Scrambling & short climbing up (4b max), then down (4a max). All day in shade except for the last short South-facing downhill valley, from Fara’at Um Raïfiq to Abu Aïna.

From the Upper Wadi Shelaali, and behind Jebel Um Raïfiq, this interesting hidden passage allows you to reach the camps and the spring of Abu Aïna from inside the mountain. You walk along the last eastern buttresses of Jebel Rum. Good rock in the “hidden chimney” leading to the pass on the Shelaali side (N). Then the rock becomes poor and broken, requiring some caution in the climbing descent on Abu Aïna side (S).

Abseil not mandatory – in this case a 20 m rope is enough for belaying. Otherwise take 2 pieces of 20 m and enough rope to make a solid abseil anchor (cord, maillon). 2/3 varied cams and 2/3 slings should do the job for the pro. The whole itinerary is well cairned. Allow 2h30/3h30, and much more with a group.

Approach: access the Uppper part of Wadi Shelaali, above Lawrence Well (the real one!), by following the rock bands/ledges on the right.

Follow the sandy bed of the wadi straight under the North flank of Vanity Dome. Locate a short “hidden” chimney, little up on the left, much more engaging than all the others (quite obvious).
To reach its base, continue first towards the end of the wadi, then reverse back above by good terraces (cairns – N 29°34’04.2”- EO 35°24’34.2”/Alt : 1127 m) to avoid unnecessarily difficult climbing.
Climb this chimney on the left, starting from a small pile of stones (relic of the “Bedouin steps”).
A high step, with a carved handhold, allows you to overcome and eventually protect the rest with a huge rock bracelet. A few easy meters conclude this nice crux passage (5 m, 4a). Then easily reach the top pass just by walking.

* It is from this pass that the summit of Jebel Um Raïfiq – North Summit is most easily reached.
* It is exactly from here that you also proceed in The Bedouin Route from Shelaali to Jebel Rum (the « real Rijm Assaf »).
* It is also from here that you can – to the right – cross part of the North face of Vanity Dome, to avoid the first difficult passage of L’O’minet râle.

Continuation of the route:
on the other side of the pass (S), the descent is steeper and the rock more broken. A slippery scree in a narrow couloir leads to the first slot, that is too narrow. Go around it to the right, to return gently underneath (15 m. 3c).
Then reach a second steep slot. By its left, walk along the top of a block, then a few meters below, down climb a crack-flake more easily than it looks at first (15 m, 4a, protectable for the last-one). Abseiling is possible, but natural anchor has to be set, or checked if there is one (rare…).
Then easily follow the wide corridor to the plateau marking the X junction of four wadis – this is the crossroads of Fara’at Um Raïfiq.

Turn around and look back- you will be surprised to see where you come from. This seems really improbable and not very appealing…. As a result, the Rakabat Um Raïfiq’s route, reversed from here, is only rarely done!

From here:
To reach Abu Aïna and the southern end of Jebel Rum, continue straight ahead (S), and through a tangle of large and difficult boulders to bypass, join the camps at the very bottom with its famous “fake” Lawrence’s Well.
– To reach the return tracks directly to Rum village, go down immediately to the left (E). Obvious.
– Going up the valley to the right (W), you join The Wolf’s Path.

Vanity Dome – North Face
Franny’s Corner (N)
F.Kroll & G.Stari – 02/03/1993 – 300m – 10 pitches – 5b (D). All day in shade.

North Corner (N)
S.Brachmayer & A.Precht – 23/04/1995 – 300m – 10 pitches – V- . Precht UIAA grading. All day in shade.
Both in T.Howard’s Guidebook

Hammad's Domes, with Rijm Assaf & Pillar of Wisdom

Rum Doodle Pillar (Wadi Shelaali – Right Side)
Rum Doodle (E)
W.Colonna & T.Howard – 08/10/1986 – 250m – 9 pitches – 5b (D/D+). Afternoon shade.
In T.Howard’s Guidebook

East Ridge of Jebel Rum
Rijm Assaf (E)*****
It is the most direct route to the summit of Jebel Rum – 550m – 10/11 pitches – 5b/c.
In T.Howard’s Guidebook

* This name of Rijm Assaf, commonly accepted by climbers for many years now, is the result of a misdesignation. The real Rijm Assaf was the name given by local hunters to the direct route for the summit domes n°31 – The Bedouin Route from Wadi Shelaali to Jebel Rum. However, we keep this name because the use has established it as such. Not much done by Al Zalabieh hunters who consider it, rather delicate in some passages, it was once used by the “Special Forces” of the Jordanian army for training – hence the arrows painted in white here and there…

Not really a standard route for the everyday hunter… Better to use the rope with real relays. This is the most direct way to the top of the Jebel Rum! Goes almost in a straight line through the summit domes, after having climbed one of the most remarkable ridges in Wadi Rum. Varied climbing on overall good rock, revered by all. The moderate rating should not mislead.

A few glue-in rings – set up by Bedouin guides (*) – enhance the already good natural protection. One or two compact slabs require slightly commitment. The highlight, and therefore the crux of the ascent is rather this unstable pile of stones on which you have to venture if you want to reach the proper start on the ridge!
On the top and on the inside of the domes following the ridge, stay well to the left to embark on the correct siq, less logical at first sight than the one on the right. Its access directly overlooks the Wadi Shelaali precipices on its left.

Following a short climbing passage, you reach the top from the left (S), going up a narrow, very sandy corridor before the last steps.

Note – the right-hand siq, more open and attractive, leads to the top of a series of domes that force to a detour with awkward descent and crossing to reach the summit area…
But on the other hand, it is the good way to a quick junction with the descent by Hammad’s Route (n°50), avoiding the summit. Convenient for leaving the routes 40, 41 and 42 if you don’t want to rap down along the routes.

(*) Done by the local guide Ataeq Aoudah al Zalabieh in the 90’s.

Pillar of Wisdom area
The Pillar of Wisdom (E)*****
W.Colonna, A.Howard, D.Taylor – 03/10/1986 – 400m – 15 pitches – 6b (TD).
In T.Howard’s Guidebook

Hammad’s Ridge
Hammad’s Route, Bedouin Route to Jebel Rum summit (ESE for the ridge), 750m – 6/7 pitches – 5b/c (D), with much scrambling.
Hammad Hamdan al Zalabieh with friends on the first attempts, and then in solo to the summit, in the early 1970’s.
In T.Howard’s Guidebook

Hammad’s Ridge to East Dome (1560m) of Jebel Rum
The Eye of Allah*****, Bedouin Route to the Jebel Rum, East Dome (ESE). 550m – 6/7 pitches – 5a max (Dinf). Hammad Hamdan al Zalabiah in 1972.
In T.Howard’s Guidebook

Courtesy of Wilfried Colonna, from the archives used to write his forthcoming topo;

From 1800 meters above the desert ground to… minus 400 meters below sea level !



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