Winter hike to Oman’s highest peak

For most travellers, they see Jebel Shams (Sun Mountain) as a collective — a place in Oman where one will find the Sultanate’s highest peak including the country’s scenic Grand Canyon. As long as one has been anywhere on it, it’s just as good as saying “I’d been to Jebel Shams.” What many don’t realize is that this collective Jebel Shams has a north and south peak. The north peak which is about 3009 meters’ high is not open to the public restricted by the authority for security reasons.
But the south peak, standing tall at 2,997 meters high can be accessed by trekking and depending on one’s speed, can be reached after six to eight hours of gruelling hike battling rough terrains, cold breeze and often, challenging cliffs. There are plenty to see as one hikes his way to the top — gorgeous gorges, lush trees, protected birds like falcons and a million-dollar view many outdoor enthusiasts would love to take in. These view after all is only seen by those with strongest of spirits, who had the audacity and the physical strength to explore an area full of risks and lurking dangers.

  

To reach the south peak is a dream for some and this yearning cannot be much stronger that how Ahmed al Jaabri, head organiser of Oman Outdoor Adventure, felt.
For Ahmed, an Omani who made it his mission to know his country and promote it to travellers from all over the world, there is nothing more satisfying than conquering the highest peak in the GCC.
“It has always been a dream,” he would eventually gush on social media. On one of his Instagram posts, he can be seen standing on the Jebel Sham’s highest peak marker, his arm spread in the air, one foot planted well on the marker. Behind him, quite invisible to the eye, are sea of clouds and the mesmerising view of the valleys and villages thousands of meters below.
There was a triumphant smile on his face — one that betrays sweet victory and a childlike exaggerated joy of achieving a dream.

An indomitable spirit
The evening of January 18 was cold. At the foot of Jebel Shams, it’s at 8 degrees Celsius. Weather stations reported that possible rain can happen in the next two days in some parts of Oman close to the coastal areas.
In Jebel Shams, it was a starry night. The moon was nowhere in sight. A small camp fire was lit and huddled around it were five girls and a few of the guys. There were about 20 participants — a good mix of people who hailed from as far as Croatia to South East Asia but majority of which are Omanis.
One of the girls said that climbing the summit is one of her goals in 2018 and in between hot kahwa and nonchalant laughter, everybody was aware that the trek ahead will be very challenging.
By six in the morning, the team packed their gears. Last night’s sleep barely came.
Hiking to the summit requires a guide, one which for Oman Outdoor Adventure was filled by Saif who said that he has climbed the summit almost a dozen times before.
Saif is a natural story-teller. Shy in the beginning, he was focused and dedicated in getting the group to its destination. He is familiar of the area and fortunately for us, is well versed of its ins and outs.
Finding the route requires a bit of experience. There are no concrete pathways anywhere. Everything is as natural as it can get and some of the stones one step on can easily get out of place. One also needs a general background on how to read signs. For a trek like this to Jebel Shams, one’s best friend are the yellow, white, orange paint that points the direction of where you are supposed to go.
Two hours of walking reveals landscapes of massive boulders and deep canyons. The air is crisper and colder. Hand gloves were a necessity and face covers are necessary if you don’t want to get frostbites.
In some corners of the mountains, snow has formed. They were a sight to behold.
“There are some days that when you look at the mountain, its glistening. There are days too that even your breathing creates a steam. I’d climbed the mountains even on those conditions,” shared Said in between heavy breaths.
The first three hours are not the hardest but for newbies, they might as well be. Pathways become even more challenging and at one point of the journey, the team walk very close to the edge of the cliff. Although tiring, the view is a sight to behold.

For most travellers, they see Jebel Shams (Sun Mountain) as a collective — a place in Oman where one will find the Sultanate’s highest peak including the country’s scenic Grand Canyon.
As long as one has been anywhere on it, it’s just as good as saying “I’d been to Jebel Shams.”
What many don’t realize is that this collective Jebel Shams has a north and south peak. The north peak which is about 3009 meters’ high is not open to the public restricted by the authority for security reasons.
But the south peak, standing tall at 2,997 meters high can be accessed by trekking and depending on one’s speed, can be reached after six to eight hours of gruelling hike battling rough terrains, cold breeze and often, challenging cliffs.
There are plenty to see as one hikes his way to the top — gorgeous gorges, lush trees, protected birds like falcons and a million-dollar view many outdoor enthusiasts would love to take in. These view after all is only seen by those with strongest of spirits, who had the audacity and the physical strength to explore an area full of risks and lurking dangers.
To reach the south peak is a dream for some and this yearning cannot be much stronger that how Ahmed al Jaabri, head organiser of Oman Outdoor Adventure, felt.
For Ahmed, an Omani who made it his mission to know his country and promote it to travellers from all over the world, there is nothing more satisfying than conquering the highest peak in the GCC.
“It has always been a dream,” he would eventually gush on social media. On one of his Instagram posts, he can be seen standing on the Jebel Sham’s highest peak marker, his arm spread in the air, one foot planted well on the marker. Behind him, quite invisible to the eye, are sea of clouds and the mesmerising view of the valleys and villages thousands of meters below.
There was a triumphant smile on his face — one that betrays sweet victory and a childlike exaggerated joy of achieving a dream.
The evening of January 18 was cold. At the foot of Jebel Shams, it’s at 8 degrees Celsius. Weather stations reported that possible rain can happen in the next two days in some parts of Oman close to the coastal areas.
In Jebel Shams, it was a starry night. The moon was nowhere in sight. A small camp fire was lit and huddled around it were five girls and a few of the guys. There were about 20 participants — a good mix of people who hailed from as far as Croatia to South East Asia but majority of which are Omanis.
One of the girls said that climbing the summit is one of her goals in 2018 and in between hot kahwa and nonchalant laughter, everybody was aware that the trek ahead will be very challenging.
By six in the morning, the team packed their gears. Last night’s sleep barely came.
Hiking to the summit requires a guide, one which for Oman Outdoor Adventure was filled by Saif who said that he has climbed the summit almost a dozen times before.
Saif is a natural story-teller. Shy in the beginning, he was focused and dedicated in getting the group to its destination. He is familiar of the area and fortunately for us, is well versed of its ins and outs.
Finding the route requires a bit of experience. There are no concrete pathways anywhere. Everything is as natural as it can get and some of the stones one step on can easily get out of place. One also needs a general background on how to read signs. For a trek like this to Jebel Shams, one’s best friend are the yellow, white, orange paint that points the direction of where you are supposed to go.
Two hours of walking reveals landscapes of massive boulders and deep canyons. The air is crisper and colder. Hand gloves were a necessity and face covers are necessary if you don’t want to get frostbites.
In some corners of the mountains, snow has formed. They were a sight to behold.
“There are some days that when you look at the mountain, its glistening. There are days too that even your breathing creates a steam. I’d climbed the mountains even on those conditions,” shared Said in between heavy breaths.
The first three hours are not the hardest but for newbies, they might as well be. Pathways become even more challenging and at one point of the journey, the team walk very close to the edge of the cliff. Although tiring, the view is a sight to behold.

YERU EBUEN –
Instagram: @yru_here –