Ascent of Jebel Shams on 2018-03-06

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Jebel Shams
    Elevation:9902 ft / 3018 m

Ascent Trip Report

SUMMARY Significant tourist trek to S summit, about 12 hours round trip. The higher N summit is a small detour off this but a Restricted Area, with new fence and signage as of 2018, so luck is needed to get the last 30m of height. I took 7 hours for the S summit and N gate, then a lift down - luckily not for questioning! Trailhead served by good unpaved road, 2WD OK as of 2018.

After Jebel Kawr ascent previous day, arrived Jebel Shams Heights mid pm, drove short rough 4wd track past the resort to dry river bed, noted the red white and yellow painted waymark boulders heading uphill. Then drove past Jebel Shams resort (apparently the less expensive one), stopped further along at a viewpoint to look across the impressive 1000m deep Wadi Ghul - Oman's Grand Canyon - to Shams summit. Road continues unpaved to end at Al Khitaym village, where the W6 Balcony Walk leads back north on an impressive line between upper and lower cliffs, a justly popular tourist hike (the tourists seemingly all French), also some very cheeky goats at the parking lot. It seems a 2-3 hour round trip, ending at the abandoned village of Sap Bani Khamis somewhere below the Heights resort. I do about half the distance, then return to the trailhead at sunset. Another vehicle with tent set up, so I continue to park just above the dry river bed, at N23.22865° E57.20502°.

Set off at 0600 first light, trail mostly easy to follow, initially heading direct for the summit radomes with orange light still showing. Then kinks L to cross a shallow gully before turning R and climbing to the rim of the spectacular Saydran Gorge, before reaching the first col at 2860m (GPS). Then undulating route crossing several shallow cols, occasional scrambling, YDS3 on final steep ascent to Shams South summit (N23.21201° E57.27996°, 2997m, outcrop) reached at 1050, 20mins enjoying fine views across to Sunday's Jebel Kawr and to its R the small spectacular Jebel Misht. Back to the first col then up to fortified N summit, since last year sporting a new security fence, preventing approach within about 150m distance and 40m elevation of the summit. At the S end the fence might be circumvented by a spectacular hand traverse on dubious rock with coils of razor wire for protection and in full view of the radome, not something I fancied. New red signs state Restricted Area, Do not pass. I reach the fence again due west of the radomes, a little closer to the highpoint but still considerably lower than the South summit already visited. I work my way around to the gate at the north end, open but with the same red signs. I flag down a camouflaged pickup driving out. They are workers taking rubbish down. Not much English but they make it clear I'm not allowed inside, and offer me a lift down. Reckoning I've got as close as I'm going to get, and hanging around for someone more official, might be a bad idea, I accept. Good quality unpaved road. Locked gate at bottom, military gatekeeper seemingly shows no interest in the extra passenger (just some white trash maybe!).

The Sunshine Resort is visible below, and it shares the remaining 3km of access road with Shams summit, with a single unlocked gate above Dar as Sawda. My SatNav suggested this as a more direct route through the mountains from Jebel Kawr - it may or may not be feasible...

Back at trailhead unexpectedly early at 1400, I have lunch then down via Guhl Village (briefly looking into the Wadi from below having seen a lot of it from above) and through Al Hamra to the Sharaf al Alamayn viewpoint, watch the sun set over Jebel Kawr and spend the night here, at nearly 2050m my highest night of the trip. Quite windy overnight.

Next morning from this viewpoint, an out and back ridge walk to a fine rocky summit partway along the Shams E ridge, along the W10h trail, above deep wadis. Then via Jabrin castle and Nizwa fort and souk, to Jebel Khadar the third and last Ultra for the week
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3602 ft / 1097 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3602 ft / 1097 m
    Distance:9.9 mi / 16 km
    Start Trailhead:6300 ft / 1920 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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