The amazing climb up Jabal Misht

Located on the very edge of the Empty Quarter, Jabal Misht may not be as well-known as its cousins, Jabal Akdhar and Jabal Shams, in the very heart of the Hajar Mountains, but that does not make it any less popular.

The mountain has played host to many foreign and Omani climbing expeditions, and scientists who camp on its slopes to conduct geological studies on the Sultanate’s rocky areas. Climbing the mountain, of course, is one of the main reasons people come to Jabal Misht, but many also come here to see the prehistoric Bat Tombs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is located quite close to its base.

Geoff Hornby expressed his amazement for the mountain in an article for the ‘American Alpine Club’, “Misht is Arabic for ‘comb’. As you look at the four-mile-long ridgeline topping Jabal Misht’s southwest, south, and southeast faces, you cannot fail to notice the pinnacles running the length of the mountain—a ridge of comb teeth. The heights of these faces start at 1,600 feet, at either end and top out just short of 4,000 feet in the central section.”

“This canvas still has big spaces to be filled by those willing to brave the heat and unrelenting glare of the Arabian sun,” he added.

One of the first expeditions made to Jabal Misht was organised by the French in 1979, when they were known as some of the best mountaineers and explorers in the Sahara Desert and the Middle East, explains Hornby.

“The French Pillar is the Nose of Arabia,” he said. “A curving line that separates the two greatest faces of Jabal Misht, it was the target for a team of French guides led by Raymond Renaud in 1979. The route was climbed over a three-week period with extensive use of fixed ropes and camps. The four different faces of Jabal Misht are cut with grooves and hung with pillars that should provide new routes for the next two generations of climbers.”

“Jabal Misht is a popular climbing destination. Making your way up the tall southeast cliff is not an easy task,” added geologist Evelyn Mervine, sharing her thoughts with the American Geophysical Union. “Indeed, the mountain’s majestic cliff resembles a gigantic comb resting peacefully amidst the seafloor rocks of the ophiolite.”