Rock climbing in Jordan: new rock climbs at Wadi Sulam

Maurizio Oviglia reports about an expedition of the Italian Alpine Club and the JTB (Jordan Tourism Board) which resulted in series of new climbs in the unexplored area of ​​Wadi Sulam in Jordan. Expedition members included Maurizio Giordani, Manrico Dell’Agnola, Andrea Cattarossi, Marco Scagnetto, Luca Schiera, Umberto Del Vecchio, Erik Lazarus, Gianluca Cavalli, Marcello Sanguineti, Angelo Taddei, Alberto Rampini and Lorella Franceschini.

From 22 – 29 April 2018 an exploratory climbing expedition was organised by the Jordan Tourism Board. The aim was to explore the Wadi Sulam area, still untouched from a mountaineering point of view, and climb some new routes. Bearing this in mind, the JTB asked the CAI (Italian Alpine Club) to select a group of rock climbers, cavers, and those particularly adept and climbing new routes on delicate rock like that found on Jordan’s sandstone outcrops.

The expedition included the mountaineers Maurizio Giordani (UIAGM e CAAI), Manrico Dell’Agnola (CAAI), Andrea Cattarossi (UIAGM), Maurizio Oviglia (CAI Scuola Centrale Alpinismo e CAAI), Marco Scagnetto (CAI Scuola Centrale Alpinismo), Luca Schiera (CAAI e CAI-Ragni di Lecco), Umberto Del Vecchio (CAI Scuola Nazionale), Erik Lazarus (CAI Scuola Nazionale), Gianluca Cavalli (CAAI), Marcello Sanguineti (CAAI), Angelo Taddei (CAI Scuola Centrale Alpinismo), Alberto Rampini (Presidente CAAI e CAI Scuola Centrale Alpinismo) e Lorella Franceschini (Vicepresidente Generale CAI e CAI Scuola Centrale Alpinismo).

The mountaineers were accompanied by Ahmad Bani-Hani and helped by by several Bedouins, who took care of the logistics and followed them throughout the period in their activity.

The heterogeneous group managed to establish a dozen trad climbs or semi-sport multi-pitch routes ground-up, as well as several single-pitches equipped with gear provided by the Jordanians. The goal was to create an alternative to the famous Wadi Rum area, located a hundred kilometers further south. Compared to Wadi Rum, the Wadi Sulam area is located at about 1000 meters above sea level and towers circa 1500 meters above the Dead Sea desert plain. The entire area is marked by canyons and sandstone towers up to 200 meters high which can be accessed via a steep but nevertheless concrete road from the Showbak plateau, about thirty kilometers north of Petra. Access to the climbing area is easy and takes between 20 minutes to an hour from Base Camp which is located at the road’s end.

In addition to the rock climbs, the two cavers Eric Lazarus e Umberto del Vecchio equipped two canyons with insitu gear:
Canyon Um Hamata about 20 abseils. Starting altitude: 984 above sea level. Exit: 805 m. Extremely weathered and beautiful canyon. Easy to go down, with short rappels except the last 50m. Grade: V3A1II

Quser Canyon 2 abseils, one 20m and the second 150m with 2 rappel stations. Starting altitude: 998 m Total height difference: 200m. Horizontal length: 200m.
This is the canyon with the highest drop in of Jordan. An adrenaline rush, the view is spectacular. Good technical skills are required. Grade: V5A1III

Despite not always ideal weather conditions and an extremely strong storm that has provided over 35 mm of rain and hail in just an hour that caused deaths and mass flooding (at the time the mountaineers were out on the mountains but, despite the flash flood in the canyons, they all returned safely), we worked non-stop to establish more than 10 long multi-pitch rock climbs and various single pitch routes, from 4c to 8a. The potential in this area is still very high but one has to pay particular attention to the rock quality which, in many areas, is too sandy and friable. This is why resined or Hilti mechanical expansion bolts were used, as these proved the most reliable.

For anyone wishing to visit the area, it is possible to contact Ahmad Bani Hani of the JTB (www.visitjordan.com) for information about the travel logistics or gear that should be used to be used. An facebook page (in Italian) has been created by the group with photos and information:

Maurizio Oviglia (CAAI e Scuola Centrale di Arrampicata e Alpinismo del CAI)

Sports cragns
Bedouin Crag (risalto inferiore)
Chiodati a barre filettate inox resinate (Maurizio Oviglia, Marco Scagnetto e Marcello Sanguineti) 
Eid – 20 mt, (6a+)
Abu Adnan – 20 mt, (5a)
Audeh – 20 mt, (5a)
Atallah – 20 mt, (5b)
Ayed – 20 mt, (5c)
Shoes crack, 20mt (4c) linea trad in fessura non chiodata con sosta a spit (4c) (Maurizio Oviglia, Marco Scagnetto e Marcello Sanguineti)

Bedouin Crag (risalto superiore)
Via Italia, 30mt, (6b+) 10 mm stainless steel bolts (Maurizio Giordani, Andrea Cattarossi, Manrico Dell’Agnola)

Hidden crag
10 mm stainless steel bolts (Alberto Rampini, Lorella Franceschini e Angelo Taddei) 
Direct, 30 mt (5b)
Black Line, 30 mt (5c)
The ridge, 30 mt (6a+)

Black canyon
10 mm stainless steel bolts
Amman, 25 mt (8a)
Ammin, 18 mt (7c+)
-, 20m  (5b) trad (Luca Schiera e Gianluca Cavalli)

Red canyon

Pin 1876, 50 mt (7a) 10 mm stainless steel bolts (Luca Schiera e Gianluca Cavalli)

Mulit-pitch rock climbs (trad/sport)

Red Canyon – Via dei coriandoli dal cielo
First ascent: Maurizio Giordani, Manrico Dell’Agnola, Andrea Cattarossi 24 April 2018
Length: 80 m
Grade max 6b
6b, 5c
1 bolt per belay, full rack, abseil down the route

Black Canyon – Via dello Scorpione

First ascent: Maurizio Giordani, Manrico Dell’Agnola, Andrea Cattarossi, April 2018
Length: 100 m
Grade max 6a
6a, 5c
1 bolt per belay, full rack, abseil down the route

Khanzerya Tower – Il the nel deserto
First ascent: Maurizio Oviglia, Marco Scagnetto, Marcello Sanguineti 23/24 April 2018
Length: 200 m
Grade max 6b+ (6a+ obbl)
6a, 6a+, 6a+, 6a+, 6b+, 6b
In posto 13 spit inox + le soste
Necessaria una serie di friend sino al 3BD raddoppiano dallo 0,5 al 2BD
Discesa in doppia

Torre Rovereto
Via Bottiglia

First ascent: Maurizio Giordani, Manrico Dell’Agnola, Andrea Cattarossi 24 April 2018
Length: 135 m
Grade max 6b
5b, 6b, 5c
1 bolt per belay, full rack, abseil down the route

Via Sand Fantasy
First ascent: Maurizio Giordani, Manrico Dell’Agnola, Andrea Cattarossi 28 April 2018
Length: 125 m
Grade max 6b+
6a, 5c, 6b+
1 bolt per belay and 2 on the route, full rack, abseil down the route

Torre Belluno
Via Zizzagando
First ascent: Maurizio Giordani, Manrico Dell’Agnola, Andrea Cattarossi 25 April 2018
Length: 120 m
Grade max 6b
6a, 4b, 6b, 6a+
1 bolt per belay and 2 on the route, full rack, abseil down the route

Zio Cammello
First ascent: Maurizio Oviglia, Marco Scagnetto e Marcello Sanguineti 27 April 2018
Sviluppo 120 m
Grade max 6c+
5a, 5b, 6c+, 6a+
2 bolts per belay and 6 on the route, full rack + friends to 3BD, abseil down the route

Sand Tower – Un pugno di sabbia

First ascent: Maurizio Oviglia, Marco Scagnetto, Marcello Sanguineti 28 April 2018
Length: 125 m
Grade max 6a+ (6a obbl)
3b, 6a+, 6a+, 5c, 4b
2 bolts per belay and 6 on the route, full rack + friends to 3BD and one 4BD, abseil down the route

Lizard Tower – Blue Lizard
First ascent: Alberto Rampini, Lorella Franceschini, Angelo Taddei, 24 April 2018
Length: 145 m
Grade max 5b, one section 6c/A0
5a, 5b, 5b, easy, 3c, 6c/A0, 3b
2 bolts per belay and 20 on the route, full rack + 3 mid-size friends, abseil down the route

Torre Talebori – Lam Tatahi
First ascent: Alberto Rampini, Lorella Franceschini, Angelo Taddei, 26 April 2018
Length: 100 m
Grade max 5b
4c, 5b, 3b
2 bolts insitu, descend on foot or abseil down the route

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