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Climb Jebel Sumayni

Liz & Chirri on the summit of Jebel Sumayni


  • AKA: - Jebel Sumayni is also known as Jebel Sumeini.
  • Altitude: - 1073 metres campsite is approx 420 metres.
  • Round-trip: - Give yourself about 6-7 hours. This includes plenty of stops, and an hour for lunch on the summit. If you are short of time you can easily reduce this.
  • Difficulty: - A mixture of uphill walking on rocky paths, and scrambling up wadi beds. There is little or no exposure, but some of the wadi beds are quite steep and loose, and require care to avoid slipping. These present more of a problem during the descent, but should be no trouble if you take your time.
  • Liz fear factor: - 2/10 No scary bits unless you go off-piste!!
  • Chirri dog factor: - Easy, I don't need any help climbing, but it's a long day, and my paws can get a bit sore on the sharp rocks if I don't wear my boots. Plenty of animal tracks and scents to follow. No goat or donkeys to chase, although I do imagine that I see a few. No pools of water to drink at, and not many boulders to shade under.
  • Dangers: - Take care descending because some of the wadi beds are steep and loose. Take plenty of water as you work hard on the climb and lose a lot of fluid.
  • Wildlife and plants: - A lot to interest botanists and birders. The Crag Martins which patrol the summit cliffs put on a great arial display.
  • Geology: - Look out for the interesting sedimentary formations round the corner from the campsite and on the climb up the wadi to the first col.
  • Local History: - The tomb-like mound near the summit is a wolf / fox trap.
  • Guest Book: - There is a Guest Book buried in the summit cairn. Leave your comments and thoughts, and read those left by others. Here is the guest book as it was on 23 Jan 2010. Guest Book - PDF
  • Navigation: - See waypoints and route links below

(All positions are given as UTM coordinates at WGS84 Datum; most modern consumer GPS receivers can handle this.)


Jebel Sumayni (or Sumeini) is a mountain on the UAE - Oman border. It's my favourite mountain in these parts. There are many reasons for this; the rock is great, the climb is interesting and the rewards on the summit, in terms of views, make it difficult to drag yourself away for the descent. The camp-site is very attractive and even if you aren't up to climbing to the summit, a short excursion up to the first col or beyond is well worth doing.

The following description should enable you to find the camp and climb the mountain. Several people have used my directions successfully, but be warned that I've deliberately limited the amount of detail in the climbing route to key landmarks so you can still have a bit of fun finding your own route between these.

At 1073m, Jebel Sumayni rises to the east of the gravel plains of Wadi Sumayni. The summit, although visible from the village of Shuwaib, is best approached from its eastern flanks in Wadi Mayhah. The climb starts near the small settlement of Tawi Junaynah, with its lush plantations, and smart whitewashed houses. Tawi Junaynah can be reached from the north via a track starting near Jebel Rowdah on the Al Madam to Hatta road. There is also easy access from the village of Shuwaib.

A track leading north from Tawi Sumayni up Wadi Qutayt would take you very close to the western flanks of the Jebel and very close to the summit but from there the cliffs are steep and the rock very loose. Starting the climb from the other side makes for a much more interesting hike, even though it's far less direct, being a distance of over 3 km to the summit 'as the crow flies'. Once you overcome the initial rocky gullies the mountain mass opens out in all its glory. Most of the steeper climbing is done early on and there is a great sense of openness and easy climbing up high.

Climbing Jebel Sumayni isn't difficult. There are only a few places where you need to use your hands to climb, and there is very little exposure. From the start of the climb the actual summit is a fair way back so be prepared for false summits!

At a gentle pace, the climb to the top should take less than three and a half hours, including time for rests and to admire the superb views on the way up. You can easily spend up to an hour on the top taking photos, having a drink and snacks. The journey down is quite straightforward now that you know the route; again it's wise to pick up the donkey tracks to make the going easier. There are alternative ways down, but generally, I wouldn't recommend taking unfamiliar routes down a mountain because it's all too easy to unwittingly get yourself into tricky rock climbing situations. The descent should take around two and a half to three hours with stops so plan on a maximum of seven hours for the round trip. Take your time on the way down. Your legs will be tired and the rocks are sharp, as I learned to my cost.

1. To the base - camp

From the Al Madam - Hatta Road.

Turn at the roundabout near the petrol station on the surfaced road, going south opposite Jebel Rowdah to Tawi Junaynah in about 15 km. This goes via Wadi Khudayrah, Wadi Khadra and the pools near Shuwayhiyin. This would be the best approach if you were coming from Dubai or the Northern Emirates and is very straightforward.

From Al-Ain

Cross through the Hili check point into Buraimi, and then onto the road to Sohar. Turn left towards Mahdah on the roundabout just past the Buraimi Hotel. Go via Fossil Valley, Wadi Sharm, Jebel Ghawil, and the junction at wadi Sumeini to Tawi Junaynah.

To the camp site (UTM 40R 391,749E 2,734,388N) from Tawi Junaynah

From the plantation at Tawi Junaynah look west towards the mountains. There is a wide flat, gravel plain before you. From the small settlement, you have to cross the plain and enter one of the wadis opposite. There are two main tracks across this plain. The one, which leads directly to the wadi, starts at the northern end of the settlement at a steep track out of a shallow wadi bed.

Head across the plain on the bumpy track and enter the wadi (UTM 40R 392,257 2,735,318N). Here there is a tree at a road junction. Continue into the wadi passing the two small farmsteads, one with a camel, and the other with goats. From here the track deteriorates, but is easily navigable by 4WD vehicle. Eventually this track leads to a small solitary hill only a few meters high. In the vicinity are a number of flat areas suitable for camping. If you cross from here towards the mountain you may find some cleared areas from previous camps; using these limits any environmental damage to this largely unspoiled site.


Via Shuwaib (now no longer possible due to a border fence)

If coming from Abu Dhabi, take the road via Sweihan, and Al Hayer to the village of Shuwaib. There is now a new town at Shuwaib but you need to make for the old town, which is reached by taking the first turnoff (downhill) from the small roundabout with the petrol station to one side. The other exit from this roundabout leads to Al Madam and Al Dhaid.

To the gravel plain (now no longer possible due to a border fence)

A short distance down the hill from the petrol station you come to a cattle grid (UTM 40R 379,541E 2,737,315N), and you should turn right just past here. Look over towards the dunes and you should see a 'gatch' track leading up into the sand. Take this track on a very pleasant easy drive through the dunes until you reach the gravel plain, which separates you from the range of mountains in the distance. You shouldn't need to deflate your tires at all, although 4WD may be necessary when crossing the gravel plain.

To the Omani checkpoint (UTM 40R 388,749E 2,728,643N) (now no longer possible due to a border fence)

As you leave the dunes by a small farm enclosure (UTM 40R 381,214E 2,735,692N), you are presented with a wide selection of tracks.  You need to choose one that will take you across the plain towards the mountains, and then into the gap where there is an Omani checkpoint. The best direction is approximately southeast. Along the base of the hills there is a good graded track, which you will eventually join. Aim for (UTM 40R 384,055E 2,733,233N). This track goes directly past the checkpoint so when you join it you just have to turn right in order to take you to the checkpoint in about 7 kilometers.

To the road junction (UTM 40R 396,294E 2,726,280N) (now no longer possible due to a border fence)

Go through the checkpoint (you may need to show ID), and head on through the gap in the mountains. Soon you'll come across a large valley to the left, with a plantation at its entrance. If you look up this valley you'll see Jebel Sumayni, rising up on the right (east) side. Here you need to continue on the main track because the climb goes up the other side of the mountain. Be thankful! Continue on the main graded track until you come to a definite junction with blue signs. Turn left here (NW) to Hadf and Hatta (signposted Hadf).

To the plantation (UTM 40R 393,604 2,736,000N) (now no longer possible due to a border fence)

Continue for roughly 12km kilometers until you reach a plantation. On your left is a white building, with a patio, right next to the road. Turn left here. 

2. The Reconnaissance and Climb

 If you arrive early enough you may like to do a bit of reconnaissance, to save time on the actual climb, and give you a taste of what's to come. You could also take up some water and stash it to save carrying it up next day. In an hour and a half you can easily get to the first col, do a bit of exploration and route finding, take some photos in the evening light, and return to the camp-site ready to do justice to a hearty BBQ.

To the first col

From the campsite, head to the main wadi keeping the rocky slopes to your left. The track curves around to the left into the wadi. The watercourse should be on your right and you should be heading directly towards the mountain mass. Keep to the left side following the donkey tracks, and after about ten minutes the track will curve left (South) into a small rocky wadi with steep cliffs to the left and a shallower rocky slope to the right. The path soon peters out and you are forced to cross to the right hand side. The aim is to make your way up this wadi until you reach a small col at the top. It is best to travel high on the right hand bank of the wadi, rather than stumble along its bed. There are many donkey tracks all over this mountain and they make the going much easier if you can find one going in your general direction. While climbing you should look over to the steep cliffs on the left hand side to see some unusual brown, green, and purple rock formations. The cliffs are like puff pastry and crumble into tiny rectangular fragments giving a granular appearance to the hillside. If you are here during the afternoon, the cliffs should be well lit by the sun to show off the unusual colours.

After about 30 minutes from the camp you'll reach the col, which is an interesting crossroads with a small well-constructed cairn. If you were to continue straight on, you would descend into another valley system to the south. To the east is a short path leading to a notch in the ridge with a small tree. Here it may be possible to scramble down to the campsite offering an alternative route on your return.

To the gully

To the West towards the main mountain is the way to go, but before you leave the col, take a good look at the gullies going up the mountain to determine which one to make for. The slope rising up nearest to you is an ill-defined wide chute. To the left of this is a small well defined gully, and to the left of that is a much deeper wider gully. Both of these two head straight up to the skyline, but it is the first small gully, which you should aim for. It joins the larger gully near the top, and it offers better footing. Between you and the gullies is a boulder field and if you look straight towards the mountain from the col, and slightly to the left, you should see a prominent boulder the size of a people-carrier and a fair bit larger than the rest. If you head for this by first going towards the mountain and then angling to the left, you should be able to pick up a donkey traverse. This passes the boulder, crosses a small watercourse onto a spur, and then traverses around the right shoulder of the small gully to drop you down into it about ten meters or so up from the mouth. If you miss this route then not to worry, you can just make your own way over to the entrance to the gully. It should only take ten to fifteen minutes to get there from the col.

Route diagram
Click on globe for a route diagram

To the second col

Start climbing fairly steeply up the loose rocks of the gully until you reach a vertical rock wall across it. This is about three meters high, and presumably makes an attractive waterfall when it rains on the mountain. You can attack the wall direct if you fancy a rock-climb, or easily bypass it to the left or right. From the top of the wall is a nice place to stop for a rest and to admire the view back down to the gravel plain, and the mountains beyond. Looking up the mountain you can see that your gully is about to end and from the wall you should climb up and head over to the left side where you can easily get on to the left shoulder near the top. From the shoulder you can look down left into the next deeper gully which you saw from the col. Looking up this deep gully you can see another larger rock wall which would offer some interesting scrambling, but this can be avoided by keeping to the shoulder, now to the right of the big gully, and making your way towards and around the right side of car sized boulder. From here you can traverse up and across to the left so that you stay on the right hand shoulder of the main gully. The gradient starts to ease a little and you will reach a spacious col paved with more tiny rock fragments. Here there are views down into a valley system to the west.

To the bowl

To the south you will see a gully rising up away from you. This is in fact a continuation of the large gully, which you've just followed up, and leads left from the top of that gully. From the col you should make out a donkey trail leading from the col and along the gentle slopes of the gully's right side. The trail soon leads down to the left and into the bottom of the gully where it crosses over to the left hand side and then steeply up a groove onto the shoulder where you can make good progress until being forced back into the gully again. In any case, just work your way up the gully keeping to the left side until you reach another col with views down to the east. Here, to the right is an entrance into a bowl. Enter the bowl and keep climbing up the left side of the bowl with a ridge on your left and in a few minutes you will top out on a ridge running to the right. Over the other side of this ridge you can look steeply down into yet another valley. Continue along this ridge and start a short climb to the top of another ridge from which you get your first clear view of Jebel Sumayni. There are three peeks ahead. The left hand one is rather jagged but the other two are gently rounded and appear smooth. Jebel Sumayni is the middle peak and you should be able to make out its summit cairn and also a marker on the hill to its right.

Route diagram

Click on globe for a route diagram

To the summit (UTM 40R 390,613E 2,732,343N) 1077m

Chirri examines the fox-trap!If you walk directly towards your goal you'll start to descend to a pleasant col with a couple of lonely trees. The descent is fairly easy but it hurts to lose some of your hard earned altitude, especially when you realise that you'll need to climb this hill again on your way back! Before you descend to the trees, take a good look at your destination and try to remember features to make your final ascent up the Jebel as easy as possible. It all looks very different from the trees at the col. From there it shouldn't take much more than twenty minutes to reach the summit. On the way up there is an easy path along a rock fault which leads you neatly to a man made structure built in the shape of a tomb, and constructed from the natural tile-shaped rocks scattered around. I wonder who built it and why. It doesn't look very old but someone has gone to a lot of effort to build it. Anyway, it makes a very comfortable seat with a wonderful view to the east. From here it is an easy stroll over to the rather precarious looking summit cairn. The cairn provides some welcome shade but you feel it might come tumbling down on top of you at any minute. Looking down the steep cliffs in the valley to the west you see a wadi with a vehicle track. This leads back down to the south to the plantation, which you may have passed shortly after the Omani checkpoint, if you came that way. Climbing the Jebel from this side looks more direct but is a lot steeper and much more difficult. On a clear day, there are great views all around; you can probably make out the swirl of Jebel Rowda to the North and Jebel Hatta to the east. The views to the west show the deep red dunes contrasted against the grey of the gravel plains and the mountains.

This is the most popular route up the mountain, but as always there are many ways up. I'll leave it for you to discover them when you are feeling adventurous!

If you find a new way up, that you think I may be unaware of, please let me know. I'm always interested!

Roy L Richards, November 2001 updated 2010

Footnote: The tomb-like structure is probably an animal trap, and the precarious summit cairn is no longer precarious because it was knocked over, and has since been rebuilt in a smaller reincarnation.

ver: Jan 2010 - Updated to account for border fence, and to mention guest-book.


© Roy L Richards 2012
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Updated Jan 2010

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