Jebel Sabbah

Jebel Sabbah stands at the southerly end of the Seven Summits. Rising to an altitude of 2280m it towers high above everything around it. Going south after Jebel Sabbah, the Sinai's mountains dwindle into rugged foothills; then low desert ridges and eventually a barren plain running to the southernmost tip of the Sinai where the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba converge at Ras Mohammed. What sets Jebel Sabbah apart from other mountains is its unparallelled view of the Red Sea: nowhere on earth offers a more sweeping view of this legendary expanse of water. The Red Sea runs south as a shimmering ribbon of blue from Jebel Sabbah: the jagged ranges of the Arabian Hejaz tower up on one side with the highlands of Egypt's Red Sea Mountains on the other. Jebel El Loz - one of the highest peaks in Saudi Arabia - is seen on a clear day along with summits of mainland Egypt like Jebel Shayib el Banat and Jebel Gattar. After nightfall Sharm el Sheikh and towns dotting the Red Sea coasts glimmer faraway in the darkness. Jebel Sabbah is a remote mountain whose isolation makes it the most little-visited of the Seven Summits today: it is a mountain of bulging red rock boulders and secluded basins. It is another one of the more challenging peaks, involving strenuous walking on steep and loose trails and occasional steps of scrambling. Sharm el Sheikh is the best launchpad for hikes to Jebel Sabbah. 

Ascent routes

Jebel Sabbah can be ascended in 2 days. The most common trailhead is Wadi Sabbah, where a steep, loose trail leads to a saddle from where Jebel Sabbah's rocky hillsides can be ascended to the summit. The same way is followed on the way down. A prettier, more interesting route begins at the small oasis of Ein Halaifiya. A steep gully is scrambled near the oasis and a traverse made of a rocky hillside to the saddle below Jebel Sabbah. The main route is joined from here. On the way down the classic trail down Wadi Sabbah can be followed. Either way hikers should carry bags with water, food and sleeping gear up Jebel Sabbah: this is not a route that can be supported by camels. A small basin below the summit gives a sheltered spot to sleep. 

Tribes & territories

Jebel Sabbah stands in the territory of the biggest tribe in South Sinai: the Muzeina. The Muzeina hold more territory than any tribe in South Sinai but they have just one of the Seven Summits in Jebel Sabbah. The Muzeina permit Bedouin of other tribes to work in their lands as guides, meaning Jebel Sabbah can be climbed with guides of the Jebeleya, Awlad Said or any other tribes. Nevertheless, it is still recommended a Bedouin of the Muzeina is part of any guiding team on Jebel Sabbah as this respects their right to work in their territory. The guides who know Jebel Sabbah the best live in Wadi Mandar. Wadi Mandar is also the best place to hire 4x4s and camels. For hikers approaching from St Katherine it is permissible to use Jebeleya guides and camels.   

Getting there & away

Sharm el Sheikh is the easiest launchpad for hikes up Jebel Sabbah. About 30km outside Sharm is Wadi Mandar, where Bedouin of the Muzeina and Awlad Said live. 4x4s can be rented for trips to Jebel Sabbah. Getting to the Wadi Sabbah trailhead takes about 2 hours. It's about the same travelling time to the Ein Haleifiya trailhead but 4x4s cannot go all the way to the oasis: getting here requires an extra 1-2 hour walk-in by hikers. Walking to the trailheads from Wadi Mandar is also possible with camel support but it takes an extra day each way. For anybody looking for a longer expedition Jebel Sabbah can be reached in 3 days with a camel from St Katherine, via Naqb el Tarfa and Wadi Gandala.

Difficulty level

Jebel Sabbah is one of the most challenging peaks of the Seven Summits. Although one of the smaller peaks of the Seven Summits the ascent begins from lower down and involves climbing around 1500m: much greater than the ascent of Jebel Katherina. Getting to the top of Jebel Sabbah involves hiking on badly broken trails and scree. Scrambling is involved when approaching from Ein Halaifiya but it is not technical or exposed. Hikers must carry bags of food, water and sleeping gear to the summit - unlike on most other peaks - all of which increases the physical challenge. Getting up and down Jebel Sabbah in a day from the trailheads is possible but only by the fittest of hikers.