Jarah Al Hawamdeh is Jordan’s first climber with an artificial limb. He has climbed some of the highest summits around the world, and regularly climbs traditional routes in Jordan and Turkey.
In this feature, we caught up with him to talk about climbing and life in Turkey.
Zushan Hashmi: Tell me a little bit about your life outside of climbing and sports in general?
Jarah Al Hawamdeh: To be honest, I live a simple life outside of climbing, I’ve finished my 1st year as a psychology student.
How did you get involved in climbing?
Well, after I had cancer, I wanted to do something unusual to support cancer patients, perhaps educate children and support refugees, and that’s how I started climbing mountains and rocks as a means to do this.
Tell us about the challenges you have faced as a climber with an artificial limb?
Initially, the challenges were very difficult and big, the most important of which was the lack of financial support to finance climbing outside my country.
People should be educated about climbing, and I try as much as possible to spread that awareness and train people to climb.
Tell me about your favourite climbing spots in Jordan?
I have a lot of sites to go and climb like Wadi Rum and Wadi Sad al-Arab, Safsafa.
What is climbing like in Jordan? Is it growing?
Climbing in Jordan is not very popular, but we as climbers are trying to promote the sport and educate people about that.
Which do you prefer, indoor or outdoor climbing?
I think there are merits in each of them.
You are based in Turkey, tell me a little about climbing there as well?
Climbing in Turkey is really developed, wonderful and very popular. There are several climbing facilities and lots of good traditional routes around the country.
Is it easy to make a living off of climbing in Turkey?
Definitely, I moved from Jordan to Turkey to develop my own climbing, train more and raise my climbing game.
How important and integral is sponsorship for climbers?
It is very important to receive financial support for climbing, as it is quite an expensive sport here.
Personally, I cannot finance my climbing, and I hope that I’m able to receive sponsorships to pursue this in the long-term
Who are some of your favourite climbers or mountaineers? Why?
There are many climbers whom I learn from constantly and regularly.
The two I look up to the most are Alex Honnold and Mostafa Salameh from Jordan.
I saw you climbing a brick wall on Instagram during the lock-down, what else are you doing to manage your time amid the current pandemic and lock-down?
Well, I am actually training on that wall [laughs] regularly and doing some home workouts to maintain my body fitness.
What would you say to youngsters who are looking to become pro-climbers?
I always say the most important thing for people who want to climb is committing to and learning the safety rules, whereas people with disabilities, everyone can climb, but you must love the sport.
Anything you would like to add?
I wanted to mention that I am a rock climber and a mountaineer. With my artificial limb, I have climbed the highest summit in Jordan, the highest summit in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, the base camp of Mount Everest, and my dream is to climb the seven world summits.
And I would like to recommend climbing to everyone because of its positive effects on the mind, heart and body.