Weekend Warm-up: Wadi Rum

“Every person brings a different vision to the world. And I think the way for people to connect those visions – to understand other people’s visions – is through nature, risk, challenge, unknown.”

It’s this belief that motivates Israeli-American climber Eli Nissan on his adventure into the heart of Jordan’s Wadi Rum.


wadi rum

At Wadi Rum, granite and sandstone formations tower from the desert, dwarfing the austere surroundings. Adventure tourism hasn’t yet discovered this world-class climbers’ playground. A key reason, Nissan learns, is the outdated climbing routes up the formations. Nissan’s expertise and local relationships make implementing modernized routing possible.

On his annual visits to Wadi Rum, Nissan forms a close friendship with Mohammed Hussain, a local Bedouin. Hussain knows the area intimately but fears for the future of the local people, who lead an isolated, simple life on the outskirts of Jordan’s major tourist centres. Nevertheless, Hussain is keen to help reestablish climbing tourism in the area.

wadi rum


Nissan, Hussein and one other Bedouin helper set out to establish a 550m, 14-pitch, 5.13+ route. In 2014, they spent an initial three weeks scouting and clearing the area. For the final season, they enlisted the expertise of big-wall climber Madeline Sorkin.

It took the team three years to create a modern free climb, designed with sustainability in mind: a route too that hopes to bring longevity to Hussain and his community.