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Stairway to Heaven, Ras Al Khaimah



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A great, great Emirates classic. At the far end of Wadi Ghalilah, at the very top of Wadi Litibah, the route climbs the impressive closed cirque that marks the natural border with Musandam and the Sultanate of Oman. The route itself is relatively short (1h to 1h30) but absolutely aerial! An incredible series of Bedouin steps built into the side of the wall, with over 200m of gas, sometimes 40cm wide, to reach the high plateau above the cirque. On the other hand, the complete loop including the approach (2h to 2h30) and the return via the ridges (5 to 6h more) is long and demanding, with almost 2500m of positive/negative altitude difference, but well worth the effort. It's a fairly obvious and well-marked route up to the plateau, although it's best not to take any false steps on the wall. The return loop is done on sight and doesn't pose too many orientation problems, even if you do have to look around a bit to choose the best option. That said, when the fog gets in the way, things can get downright complicated. The descent from the ridge has recently been upgraded and allows you to finish well exhausted, but on a marked route right to the end. No garbage, extraordinary views, a fabulous atmosphere, in short, all good stuff. The trek of the Emirates without a doubt.

Technical summary

Access to the place

From Ras Al Khaimah continue north towards Oman via the coast. After passing the RAK Cement factory, turn right towards Wadi Ghalilah (sign). Follow the asphalt as you enter the wadi, then turn right towards the dam painted in the national colors. Immediately after, take the track on the left, which runs over a bed of pebbles. Just before the viewpoint, turn right onto a more chaotic track and park quickly, before reaching the last houses.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 2h à 2h30

It's quite long. Start out in the wadi past the houses and continue up the right-hand flank to reach a ledge at the top of the torrent bed. After an hour or so, the path climbs to the right (return path) and here you have to cross the wadi in the boulders to reach a less well-marked path on the other side, in the scree. Go up this stone corridor by turning left. There are a few cairns to help you find your way, but generally speaking, you have to climb the immense scree before turning right to reach the foot of the last rocky bar at a tree. From here, a little above, walk along a ridge that leads back down into the valley, and you'll arrive at the start with the first set of characteristic steps.

Course 1h à 1h30

Facing north-west and located on the walls of the closed cirque of wadi Litibah. It consists of a series of stone staircases built into the side of the wall, intersected by rather aerial ledges. Overall, the route makes a large right-hand bend, heading diagonally towards the valley before returning to the bottom of the cirque via a very characteristic ledge. No special equipment is required, apart from a helmet, but above all plenty of water and good energy reserves for the whole loop (approx. 9h).

1st part

It starts with steps, then a few zigzags on small ledges, then higher up, climbing to the left on a sort of long sloping corner. At the top, there's a spectacular view of the valley and you reach the ledge that marks the change of direction.

Part 2

This time only series of Bedouin steps and staircases, some of them really impressive, narrow and exposed. The view of the interior of the cirque is superb, but keep your eyes on your feet - falling is not allowed!

The summit

At the very top, you reach a plateau with a few houses. Technically, this is Oman. From here, you can admire the whole cirque and, opposite, the ridge that ends with a small, clearly visible tree and green terraces marking the way back.


This can be done simply by retracing your steps (3h), but the long loop is certainly long enough to enjoy the area without adding any difficulty apart from the physical challenge. Cross the plateau near the edge and climb diagonally to the summit, skirting more or less the edge of the cirque to avoid lengthening the distance. In 1 hour, you reach a marked path almost at the summit that leads to the other end of the cirque. Follow it up to Jebel Bil Ays, then descend to a hamlet not far from the void (another 1h). Cross a small wadi, change flanks and continue uphill to pass above another small village, which sits on the edge of the void! Bypass it from above and join the very green terraces behind to make a right turn and reach the section equipped with benches and a stone table (1h more). Then comes the immense descent on a wide, steep, well-maintained path, which is tiring until you pass under a waterfall (source of the Wadi Litibah?), take a very fine marked path and reach the approach junction (2h30 more). Another 1 hour to the parking lot.

Map & topo


Galerie de photos (1er novembre 2014)

Galerie de photos (1er février 2014)


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