Every year in November, we like to look for some winter sun, and love to explore a new winter climbing destination. In 2021 we went climbing in Malta, and for November 2022, we set our sights on some rock climbing in Jordan.
Climbing in Jordan is growing in popularity, but it’s still something that many people are unaware of. It’s only in recent years that Jordan founded a climbing federation. The rock climbing gym Climbat Amman is the hub of the Jordan climbing scene, and is currently the largest climbing gym in the middle east.
Everything you need to know about rock climbing in Jordan
When we were planning our trip to Jordan, we knew that we wanted to do some rock climbing, hiking and visiting the cultural sights. We found a wealth of information about visiting the historic sights, some limited information on hiking, and very little information on rock climbing in Jordan.
In fact, most of what we had seen of the rock climbing in Jordan came from videos we had seen on YouTube. In an attempt to find out more about climbing in Jordan, and more specifically sport climbing, we got in touch with some of the local Jordanian climbers from Climbing Jordan to help point us in the right direction.
What type of rock climbing is There in Jordan?
We knew that there was a load of trad climbing multi-pitch routes in Jordan, but since we are predominantly sport climbers, we wanted to find the best locations for sport climbing.
When you’re climbing in Jordan, you’ll mostly be climbing on sandstone, which is a real experience if you’ve never climbed on it before (being from the Alps, we weren’t used to it). However there are some areas that have limestone rock too.
Jordan, and especially Wadi Rum, is predominately famous among climbers for it’s epic multi-pitch trad climbs.
British climber Tony Howard was one of the first climbers to spend a considerable amount of time in Jordan, back in 1984. In 1987 he published a guide, Treks & Climbs in Wadi Rum. The original book had around 140 routes. Now there are over 500 trad routes around Wadi Rum. Howard’s book was re-published in 2001 with many of these new routes, however getting a copy of the book seems to be almost!
While most of the trad climbers head to Wadi Rum, there are some areas close to Petra and Dana that also have some challenging trad routes.
While the majority of the climbs in Jordan are trad climbs, sport climbing is growing in its popularity. While most climbers head straight for Wadi Rum (which is exactly what we did too), there are actually a number of bolted sport climbing areas across the country.
The sport climbs that we did in Wadi Rum were amazing, however we did notice that many of the first bolts were already quite high on the route, and they often felt quite spaced-out between bolts.
Another thing you’ll need to be aware of for most of the sport climbs in Jordan is how the top anchors are set up. Most of the top anchors we encountered were made with a number of lengths of rope or cord with an oval Maillon (quick link). That means if you’re the last person on the route, you’ll need to take up enough extra gear to clean and re-thread the anchor at the top for lowering.
Bouldering isn’t a big sport in Jordan, however our guide Suleiman told us that there are now some bouldering areas in Wadi Rum. This didn’t surprise us, as there seemed to be endless opportunities to boulder everywhere.
You may or may not class scrambling as rock climbing, but I’ve decided to include it in this round-up about climbing in Jordan, as there are a number of scrambling routes to explore.
Many of the scrambles in Jordan can be found in Wadi Rum, and are often referred to as Bedouin Routes. Whilst many of them are not technically difficult (UIAA 3-4), there are some that are more challenging and require the use of ropes, both for tricker parts of the ascent and for an abseil descent.
During our trip to Jordan in November 2022, we did both sport climbing and scrambling.
Where are the best rock climbing locations in Jordan?
As climbing in Jordan becomes more popular, where should you look to spend your time when visiting Jordan to climb?
Wadi Rum is the climbing Mecca of Jordan, and it’s so easy to see why. It’s a true climber’s paradise!
There are 500+ climbs in Wadi Rum, including easy scrambles, single and multi-pitch sport routes, and endless multi-pitch trad routes. Even for less experienced climbers, the sport climbing in Wadi Rum is great, as there are a number of easier routes in the lower grades.
The rock in Wadi Rum is so grippy that your feet will stick so well, and your confidence will grow throughout the day. Just be careful not to pull too hard on the holds, as some of them are a little fragile. I broke a hold on a route I was leading just before the top anchor and took a whipper. I was absolutely fine – just a brusied ego, but it shook my confidence a bit.
There are a few areas to the east of the Dead Sea that offer some different options for sport and trad climbing.
Find more details about the climbing areas around the Dead Sea here: The Crag
To the north west of Amman is a relatively large sport climbing area called Fuhais. The area is predominantly limestone, and the routes are no longer than 10-15m. Topos can be found on The Crag.
Amman is also the home of Climbat Amman, the largest climbing gym in the Middle East.
Ajloun & Irbid
The areas of Ajloun and Irbid are situated north of Amman, around 1 hour’s drive from the border with Syria. Looking at information found on The Crag, there is a large amount of sport climbing in this area. However, due to it’s proximity with Syria, we did not travel to this part of Jordan.
When Is The Best Time To Go Rock Climbing in Jordan?
The rock climbing season in Jordan generally runs from October to April, when the weather is cooler and more pleasant. In the summer months it’s too hot for most climbers.
While it doesn’t rain a whole lot in Jordan, the wettest months are over the winter. If rain is forecast, it’s important to make sure you aren’t climbing, hiking or scrambling in any of the wadis (canyons) as rainwater can flood them very quickly.
What equipment is necessary for rock climbing in Jordan?
If you’re regular climbers and you are planning to go climbing in Jordan, you’ll probably want to bring your own climbing gear with you, as renting gear over there isn’t really a thing. We did ask a couples of locals if we could pay them to rent their gear so we could save paying for extra baggage, but it would have been a bit complicated arranging to meet them to pick it up and drop it off afterwards. However, at the end of our trip, our guide bought our rope from us (it was an older one that we rarely used), so if you are climbing with a guide, they may have enough spare equipment for you to use theirs.
Essential Items For Climbing In Jordan
The climbing equipment you’ll need for Jordan is pretty standard kit, so I’ve not gone into loads of detail below. However, I have made a note of a few things you might want to be aware of that are relevant to climbs in Jordan.
- Climbing Shoes
- Rope (more on ropes for Jordan below)
- Chalk bag + chalk
- Locking carabiners
- Belay device + locker
- Dyneema sling / Connect Adjust for cleaning the top anchor
- Trad rack – if trad climbing (Friends, nuts, slings, prusik, etc)
Ropes for Climbing in Jordan
Depending on the type of climbing you are doing in Jordan, you’ll want to either have double ropes (for trad climbing) or a single rope for sport climbing.
For sport climbing, I would recommend something reasonably thick (9.5-10mm), as the rock can be pretty abrasive. We took a 70m, 9.8mm diameter rope, which was ideal for the sport routes we climbed.
If you’re trad climbing, it’s recommended to use two double ropes, and to pack a third spare rope if you are able. Our guide told us that it’s not unusual to damage your ropes when trad climbing in Wadi Rum.
Jordan Guidebooks & Topos
Unfortunately there aren’t currently any guidebooks on climbing in Jordan available. The best information and topos of the different areas can be found at TheCrag.com.
You can also find topos and more information about climbing in Jordan at climbingjordan.com
Should You Hire A Climbing Guide in Jordan?
When we visited Wadi Rum, we decided to work with a local guide to show us around, guide us on the longer scramble that we did, and help us find our way to the different sport climbing crags.
While it’s not essential to have a guide for climbing in Jordan, especially if you’re experienced climbers, it certainly made our experience more memorable (and much less stressful) to have someone with us that had local knowledge. We also believe in supporting local guides when we visit new places to climb.
We worked with the local Bedouin guide (and legend) Suleiman. Because we felt confident in our knowledge of how to climb safely outdoors, we mainly wanted him to show us the best places to climb and help us get around. He doesn’t have a website at the moment, otherwise I’d link it here. He told us that it is coming soon though…