Jabel Shams is the highest mountain in Oman with an altitude of 3,028 m.
This hike is also known as W4 route and Rim walk to the summit. The hike is relatively moderate, includes some serious jaw-dropping scenery, strong winds and occasionally subzero temperature with snow.
Though the real summit is where the military base is located and not accessible for civilians, the false summit provides some awesome scenery, with just few meters difference in altitude.
The path is straightforward, well maintained and visibly marked. But don’t be fooled, as most of Oman’s mountain, the terrain is harsh. Therefore, do not underestimate this path.
Jabel Shams Summit hike starts and ends by the “Jabal Shams Heights Resort”. Of course, you can avoid starting from the hotel. I often start from a lower point about 500m away from the hotel and join the marked path later on. This long day of hiking might take you 11 to 12 hours to complete the full loop. Alternatively, you can do it on two days, by carrying your camping gear, and a nice kick of adventure.
From whichever start you go for, you have to cross the river bed around the old dam. This river bed is about 200m away from the hotel in the direction of the summit (east/north).
The route is marked with 3 color flag all the way to the summit, making it hard to lose your way. Unless you were feeling adventurous on that day and went off the path.
I would like to split the route into 3 different sections:
Section 1: a 60 to 90 minute hike between small canyons and few small hills, and little gain in altitude. The path is relatively easy and ends by the famous viewpoint overlooking the grand canyon.
Section 2: This is my least favorite section as I get bored from watching amazing scenery 😛
This uphill path East-North is steady and long. From the balcony viewpoint, aim to the 2 large dome buildings on top of the mountain, and navigate towards them. On your right hand side you will be close to the canyon, with very dramatic sheer vertical drops; and dozens of falcons, eagles and large birds flying around. On the opposite side, the hotel fading away in the background, and occasionally passing by the famous juniper trees. You will come across a small plateau (a good place to camp as it is the least exposed to wind) at around 2,500m. The section ends when you have to take a 90-ish degree right turn just below the army bases.
Section 3: You will be overlooking a few small villages on the left side, at the bottom of the canyon as you hike towards the summit. Though the summit is not a lot higher in altitude from where you start this section, this winding route heading south will make you lose some altitude. You have to cross multiple small canyons to reach the summit.
- Starting elevation: around 1,900m
- Balcony-view elevation: around 2,030m
- False summit elevation: around 2,997m
- True summit elevation: 3,009m
- Parking/start/end points: 23°13’33.5″N 57°12’20.2″E
- Balcony-view points: 23°13’12.7″N 57°13’16.9″E
- Summit points: 23°12’44.1″N 57°16’48.6″E
You have to treat this hike seriously since you have a long day ahead of you. So pretty much you need to have all the hiking gear.
Sun cream, sun-glasses, emergency blanket, head-light, lighter, hat, trekking poles, hiking bag with waist straps, water (at least 6 liters), healthy snacks and food for an entire. But hey!! put some more food and water in case you have to stay your night on the mountain.
And inform someone knows when you are starting the hike and when you expect to return.
Start as early as possible, a 5:00am start is what I usually go for, so I will be back by 4-5pm.
This where it gets funny, this long uphill walk with a slightly heavy backpack requires some levels of fitness, especially if you are aiming to finish it under 12hours.
The best way to test your fitness levels, if you are not done with section 1 of the hike in under 2 hours, you should probably not aim at the summit unless you are prepared to go for a very long day.
If you have done As Sab W6 Balcony hike, you pretty much have the same scenery, very dramatic with sheer drops and massive canyon.
It is very hard to describe how this scenery makes you feel, but to put into words, it gives you a good perspective on your size compared to these giant walls, canyons, and drops.
- Avoid starting the hike midday or at night, the best time to start is the morning.
- I do not believe you need a guide for this one since it is well marked all the way to the summit. But if you have no experience at all, make sure to inform someone about your location and expected return time.
- The temperature drops subzero with strong wind up to 70km/h and heavy rain in the months of November to March, so be prepared.
- I don’t have solid information about the army bases, but as any army bases around the world, it is not there for civilians to visit. Though I know Omani people are extremely kinds, so if it is an emergency, don’t shy away from trying to reach out for the base.
- Please don’t leave trash behind, and if you see any trash laying around, do the community a favor and collect it.