NEOM is expected to become the latest world-class climbing destination after developing 100 sport and traditional rock-climbing routes on the sandstone pillars of Jabal Hisma.
NEOM hosted approximately 80 climbers from Saudi Arabia and the region to test the new routes and enjoy the natural beauty of the Arabian Peninsula, establishing a new home for adventure sports in the region.
According to Arab News, Jan Paterson, Managing Director of Sport at NEOM, said: “NEOM is a diverse and expansive region with unlimited opportunities for adventure sport for everyone. With the establishment of these rock-climbing routes, we are more dedicated than ever to creating an adventure playground where people can become completely immersed in the incredible natural beauty of NEOM.”
“While engaging in activities that promote physical activity and wellbeing. We aim to be a fully adaptive and completely sustainable adventure sports environment for everyone. Rise 100 is an incredibly exciting kick-off for us, and we are so pleased that we are delivering this with the Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation.”
The 100 world-class routes, which range in difficulty from French Grades 5 to 8a, will appeal to both novices and expert climbers, with several sections dedicated to assisting new climbers in their training and discovering NEOM's natural beauty.
Emily Harrington, a five-time US national champion climber, joined the line-up of participants over the three days, conquering various climbs, including a grade 7b+ hard route. Yasmin Yousef Gahtani, executive director of the Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation (SCHF) and the first Saudi-certified Climbing Wall Instructor, joined Harrington as a fellow female climber and pioneer.
Yasmin Yousef Gahtani, Managing Director of the Saudi Climbing and Hiking Federation, said: “Rock climbing is a fast-growing sport in Saudi Arabia and the region, and we are happy to work with NEOM to develop this incredible new destination for both local and international climbers. As a Saudi climber who’s climbed across Europe and the US since 2013, I am excited to be a part of this journey to create a new rock-climbing destination in the Kingdom and share the wonders of my own country with the rest of the world.”
In the new climbing area, or 'crag,' NEOM has placed a premium on sustainability, ensuring that environmental protection comes before development. Local communities have also been involved in the crag's planning and upkeep. Visitors will be asked to follow strict criteria for the protection of the natural and historical heritage of the surrounding areas, which will be prominently designated in the future.
At 1,000 meters above sea level, the Hisma crag offers a variety of climbing opportunities throughout the year. This gorgeous canyon is especially alluring in the winter months, with its soft sand base and unique rock sculptures. The crag is made of desert sandstone, which has a particular feel and caters to a wide range of climbing styles.