At 2452m, Jebel Rimhan is one of the Sinai's giants. Standing south of Jebel Um Shomer it has two distinct summits, each rising as a foreboding pyramid. There is a north and south summit with the south the higher of the two. Scottish cartographer George W. Murray made the first recorded ascent of Jebel Rimhan in the first half the 20th century, guided by a tribesman of the Ababda - one of the biggest Bedouin tribes in mainland Egypt - called Ali Kheir. Murray felt so indebted to Kheir - who led the way through Jebel Rimhan's fearsome crags - he presented him with a ceremonial sword afterwards. Jebel Rimhan is seldom climbed today, partly because it is overshadowed by the higher, more famous Jebel Um Shomer, but also because it is significantly more difficult. Of all the Seven Summits Jebel Rimhan is the toughest: from beginning to end it is a challenging ascent with real hazards and exposure and only the most experienced, fittest mountaineers should consider an ascent. Anybody who scales Jebel Rimhan will be rewarded with a beautiful view, similar to that from Jebel Um Shomer: on one side of the Red Sea the summits of mainland Egypt and Africa rise high and on the other the jagged summits of the Arabian Hejaz. As darkness draws in - for anybody sleeping on top - the faraway lights of Hurghada and El Gouna can be seen twinkling faraway on distant coastlines.
Jebel Rimhan is best ascended in 2 days. About 20km south of St Katherine, Wadi el Agoos is the trailhead. A good camel path leads down Wadi el Agoos to a cluster of palm trees in Wadi Rimhan, where camp can be made. A ravine running up the north face of Jebel Rimhan's south summit gives the ascent route. At the top of the ravine hikers must scramble out onto the north ridge. This leads to a first, subsidiary summit, where a traverse must be made to a higher summit a few hundred metres away. The same route is followed on the way down down; no other way is viable. Wadi el Agoos can be followed back to the trailhead or an alternative finish made by walking to the coastal plain via Wadi Isleh for hikers with an extra day.
Tribes & territories
Jebel Rimhan stands in Awlad Said territory. The Awlad Said do not stop Bedouin of other tribes working in their lands. Nevertheless, we recommend Awlad Said guides are part of any guide team, primarily as it honours their right to work in their own lands. Camels must always be hired from the Awlad Said when journeying through this region. One of the main difficulties hiking here is that few Awlad Said tribesmen speak English. Awlad Said lands have not been as heavily visited as other parts of the Sinai by tourists and they have had fewer opportunities to learn a foreign language. One option is to employ two different guides: an English speaker - e.g. a Jebeleya tribesman - and a guide from the Awlad Said.
Getting there & away
St Katherine is the best launchpad for Jebel Rimhan. Walking to the end of Wadi el Agoos from St Katherine takes about a day. A 4x4 accelerates the inward travelling time to less than 2 hours and is the most popular option. As with Jebel Um Shomer hikers can end a trip by walking to the coastal plain via the pretty gorge of Wadi Isleh. 4x4s can be hired from a small Bedouin village at the end of Wadi Isleh for the 20km trip to El Tur - South Sinai's capital - where buses can be taken onwards to Cairo, Sharm and Dahab. Camels will ease the burden of carrying food, water and baggage on the 2 day route but they are not essential. For hikers exiting via Wadi Isleh - which takes an extra day - camels will be a necessity.
Jebel Rimhan is the most challenging of the Seven Summits. It involves a steep strenuous scramble in a long ravine. At the end of the ravine a summit ridge is traversed with exposed drops on both sides. This leads to the first summit, from where an intricate traverse leads through bulging crags to the main peak. Scrambling on Jebel Rimhan has the occasional tricky step and plenty of loose rock, which poses a real hazard, especially in bigger groups. Great care must be taken with footing. We recommend ascending in groups no bigger than 4 people, with all using helmets. Jebel Rimhan is a mountain with genuine risks and only the most experienced mountaineers should consider an ascent.