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Jebel Thebt

Jebel Thebt rises to a height of 2449m in the Sinai's remote southern highlands. Alongside Jebel Um Shomer and Jebel Rimhan this is one of three of the Seven Summits in the territory of a Bedoiun tribe called the Awlad Said. Englishman F.W Holland made the first recorded ascent of Jebel Thebt in 1867 although as with every mountain in the Sinai it had almost certainly been scaled by Bedouin tribesmen centuries before. An iron barrel stands bolted to Jebel Thebt's summit today: some say a team of Bedouin carried it up the mountain during a British mapping expedition in the 1940s. Others claim it was lowered onto the peak by a helicopter in later times. Jebel Thebt has the appearance of a towering pyramid and spectacular summit views: it looks down on a labyrinth of winding wadis and over the Red Sea to the highlands of Africa and Arabia. Several decades ago it was a popular peak with hikers but it is seldom visited now and whatever trails crisscrossed its mountainsides have fallen into disrepair. Getting to Jebel Thebt requires a longer, more adventurous expedition than most of the other Seven Summits - usually involving a day of walking either side of a summit attempt - and getting to the top involves plenty of scrambling. Several steep waterfalls have to be climbed on the approach and loose slopes of scree traversed on an intricate route through foreboding crags to the top. 

Ascent routes

Jebel Thebt can be climbed in 3 days from St Katherine or 2 days from the side of Sharm el Sheikh, using 4x4s to get to advanced trailheads. From St Katherine a 4x4 can be taken to the trailhead of Naqb el Tarfa: a trail leads down Wadi Tarfa to Wadi Luksuraya which continues to the bottom of Jebel Thebt. This walk-in takes 1 full day. Jebel Thebt is climbed via a wadi that rises to a high saddle: from here the route turns right through crags to the summit. An alternative trailhead that can be reached from Sharm in a 4x4 is Moiyet Looliya. It is best to camp here and start early the next day. Hikers go north over a saddle to an oasis, where a gully joins the main route to the saddle. The descent goes the same way and 4x4s can be taken to Sharm at the end of day 2. 

Tribes & territories

Jebel Thebt is the third of the Seven Summits in the territory of the Awlad Said tribe. However, getting here involves crossing the lands of other tribes too. From St Katherine, Jebeleya territory is traversed. From Sharm el Sheikh, the lands of the Muzeina are crossed. On the approach from St Katherine 4x4s should be hired from the Jebeleya. On the approach from Sharm 4x4s can be hired from any Bedouin in Wadi Mandar whether Muzeina or Awlad Said. The Awlad Said are not as strict as other tribes in enforcing a rule every guide must be one of their own tribesmen but we recommend an Awlad Said guide is part of the guide team nevertheless. Camels should be hired from the Awlad Said for this trip and any other journey through their lands. 

Getting there & away

Getting to Jebel Thebt involves a longer expedition than most of the Seven Summits. From St Katherine, 4x4s can be used to reach the Naqb el Tarfa trailhead. After this, it is a 1 day walk to the foot of Jebel Thebt. For the Moiyet Looliya trailhead, 4x4s can be hired from a Bedouin village in Wadi Mandar, about 30km outside Sharm el Sheikh. The journey from Wadi Mandar takes about 3 hours. It is recommended hikers sleep at Moiyet Looliya and climb Jebel Thebt the next day. If walking from Naqb el Tarfa, a camel should be hired to carry food, water and baggage for a 3 day round trip. From Moiyet Looliya the 4x4 remains at basecamp the whole time with supplies and a camel is therefore not necessary. 

Difficulty level

Jebel Thebt is one of the most challenging of the Seven Summits. Getting to the saddle below the summit involves scrambling up steep, sometimes tricky and exposed dry waterfalls. Further up the route runs over loose scree slopes: trails here have been badly damaged and the terrain is loose. From the saddle an intricate route is weaved through broken crags: routefinding is tricky and it's important to watch carefully for small, trail-marking stones. Hiring a camel to carry bags, food and water makes the journey easier when walking from St Katherine. Overall, Jebel Thebt is a mix of strenuous walking and sometimes tricky scrambling and should be considered only by experienced hikers. 

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