Hey Guys, I’m in Uzbekistan at the moment. I’ve had some problems with bad and censored internet lately, that’s why it took me so long to upload the latest blogs. Check out our trips to Mt Ararat in Turkey and Mt Damavand in Iran, we skied both of them.
After two days of driving from Cappadocia we arrived in Dogubeyazid at the eastern end of Turkey. It’s right next to Mt Ararat, a 5137m high volcano which is the highest mountain of Turkey. Unfortunately Domi and me weren’t able to apply for a climbing permit in Vienna since we already had to deal with all the other visas. That was the reason why we arrived with a pretty weird feeling and weren’t sure if we would be able to hike the mountain or not. In order to climb Mt Ararat you have to get a permit and take a local guide. Ascending the peak without that is not recommended and we didn’t want to try it since the mountain is situated in a conflict zone between Turkey, Armenia and Iran. We met Metin in Dogubeyazid who organized us a last minute permit and a guide. Till now we are not sure if we actually got a real permit cause all the arrangements sounded pretty strange.
Anyway, later on that day we drove our camper up to the mountain village(2000m) and parked in front of Nursins(our guide) house. He seemed to be pretty poor and lived in a stone house with almost no furniture. It was funny when he showed us a brand new tablet that he got from an American group and allowed us to check our emails. The translator was pretty helpful as well since his English wasn’t that good.
We started hiking on the next day and set up our tents on 2800m. The weather changed from blue skies to hail and thunder. It was raining and snowing during the whole night and the next day. Nursin told us that it will be bad weather for at least a week and we should hike back down. Of course we didn’t and decided to stay. A few hours later he wanted to hike back to the village and come up early on the next day. We are not sure if it was the rain or the flat battery on his Tablet and cell phone that dragged him back down, haha.
Towards the evening it started to clear up, we moved our camp to 3300m and went for an acclimatization run on the next day. Back in camp we saw Nursin who found his way up to our tent. We told him that he should stay in the camp and we go for the peak on our own, starting at 2am.
At the beginning it was a perfect clear night but suddenly the winds got stronger with up to 120km/h and we had to tour up the whole way in a snowstorm. At 4900m we saw some cloud openings and decided to wait in the bivy bag until the weather gets better. About an hour later all the clouds moved away and we hiked to the peak. It was just awesome to know that we didn’t have to ski down 1800 height meters in a total white-out. The west face of the volcano was really cool to ski and we even had powder most of the way. Not quite what we expected in end of May.
I saw some websites that tell you not to hike Ararat because of several reasons. I think it’s a great mountain and can only recommend it, especially for skiing. You just have to know that the whole region is influenced a lot by tourism and you shouldn’t always trust the very first person who sells you a tour to the peak. Also most of the guides are trained for summer tours and have too bad equipment for the winter camps. I think the best way to do it is to organize the whole trip before you arrive.
We arrived in Tehran and stopped by at the Iranian Red Bull office. I had some email contact with them and they were really stoked to help us out on our trip. After some planning and good local food we started our drive to Mt Damavand, a 5600m volcano. Vala and Hammed joined us with a 4×4. As we saw the mountain for the first time we couldn’t believe that there was still a huge amount of snow up there.(for Iran in June it was quite much, haha) Our original plan was to hike it without skis but in this case we brought them together with the speed-gliders. Leo was joining us as well this time. He decided not to ski during the whole trip due to his heel fracture last fall. The scar took longer to recover than he thought.
We parked the camper and drove the last part with the Land Rover. My new plan was to ski the first third of the mountain, fly down the middle part and use my bike on the last part. Hammed joined us on this mission. He is a mountaineer and has climbed Damavand about 5 times already. We started hiking at 3000m and slept at a huge hut on 4200m. The hike to the peak took us about 8 hours. This time we had really nice weather but also lots of wind. On the summit we saw a quite big a hole where sulphide gas was coming out. We have already seen the gas cloud from the bottom, it’s increasing in the afternoon.
On our way down we skied some really nice spring snow for about 1200 hight meters. It was still really windy and we weren’t sure if we could fly down from where the snow ends. We ended up waiting for about 3 hours until the wind decreased. I flew down first, waited for Domi at the landing but couldn’t see him. Later on he told me that the wind turned 5 minutes after my start and it was impossible for him to fly down. He skied about 300 hight meters more and walked down. Leo and Hammed walked down from the hut. Due to the long time we waited for the perfect wind, it was already dark when I arrived at the Jeep and couldn’t use my bike.
Big thanks to Vala, Hammed and the whole Iranian Red Bull Team for helping us out and making everything possible!!!