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Tuesday, 14 February 2012 20:33

International Winter Ascent

Damavand (5671m)

Highest volcanic mountain in Asia

26-31 January 2012

Iran, Polour



·        Introduction

Located approximately 70 kilometers northeast of Tehran, Mount Damavand (5671m), the highest volcanic mountain in Asia, the highest mountain in the Middle East, and the highest Mountain of Iran, is an impressive strato-volcano. It is less than 2 hours drive from the capital city of Tehran.  



As part of the Alborz Mountain Range that borders the Caspian Sea to the north, it is a young volcano that has formed mostly during the Holocene Epoch (over approximately the last 10,000 years). Its last activity dates back to 38500 years ago. The western flank of the volcano includes solidified lava flows with flow levees—“walls” formed as the side edges of flowing lava cooled rapidly, forming a chute that channeled the hotter, interior lava. Two such flows with well-defined levees are highlighted by snow on the mountainside.




·        Climbing Routes


There are at least 16 known routes to the summit which have different difficulties. Some of them are very dangerous and require rock climbing. Three routes are popular with climbers: North, South and North-East faces which are adjacent to villages and all have shelters/huts in midcourse. The most popular route is the Southern Route which has step stamps and also a camp midway called Bargah Sevom Camp/Shelter at 4220 m (about 13,845 ft). Damavand is often subject to intense west winds and experiences cold winters, so climbing in this season has always been challenging for domestic as well as foreign climbers. The best major settlement for mountain climbers is the new Iranian Mountain Federation Camp in Polour village, located on the south of the mountain.





The longest route is the Northeastern and it takes two whole days to reach the summit starting from downhill village of Nāndal and a night stay at Takht-e Fereydoun (elevation 4300 m - about 13,000 ft), a two-story shelter. The western route is famous for its sunset view. Sīmorgh shelter in this route at 4100 m (about 13,500 ft) is a newly constructed shelter with two stories. There is a frozen waterfall/Icefall (Persian name Ābshār Yakhī)about 12m tall and the elevation of 5100m is the highest fall in Iran and Middle East.


The first successful European ascent to the summit happened in 1837 by Tiller Thomson, and the first national ascent was recorded in 1857 by colonel Mohammad Sadeghkhan Gajar 's team.



·        Report of the climb

Presence of 210 climbers from 29 provinces, 9 foreign climbers from Spain (4), Armenia (3), Azerbaijan (1) and Turkey (1) along with climbers from Red Crescent made this ascent more significant. While more than 40 climbers from Europe and Asia (from the UK, Nepal, Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan) had initially expressed willingness to participate in the event, due to personal feelings and concerns of security matters they decided to have a second thought.


Registration began on 26th of January in Polour climbing facility where 210 domestic climbers had gathered for event, with 37 women and 178 men climbers. There was also a team of ski-mountaineers.



Opening ceremony was held at 8:30am, 27th of January in Polour climbing accommodation, which ended with handing the symbolic flag-wrapped climbing ax of the ascent to the event’s climbing leader, Mr. Olanj, climbers left the base camp by prearranged vehicles to the beginning of Gousfand-Sara road where they started their ascent to the summit.


In spite of unfavorable weather forecasts for Saturday, January 28th, accompanied by a snowstorm, 190 climbers settled in their tents in Gousfand-Sara camp and the rest returned to Polour base camp. In the morning of January28th, climbers in different groups scaled to the 3rd shelter.




Finally, 190 climbers reached to the 3rd camp/shelter and the rest had to return to Polour base camp due to severe weather or improper tools. Because of heavy snow and intense winds, which started from mid-day and last through the night, a number of other climbers with underestimated tools had to come back and just 95 climbers on Saturday continued their ascent to the summit. Like many others, 4 Spain climbers and a woman climber from Turkey returned to Gousfand-Sara shelter.





On January 29th, at 7:30am, after weather got better, the summit team started their attempt for the summit with the plan to go back to the 3rd camp/shelter immediately afterwards. At 11.30, the first team climbed passed the icefall while some climbers made their way back to the 3rd camp because of cold weather, insomnia, fatigue and altitude sickness.


Finally 35 climbers including a number of foreign climbers (3 climbers from Armenia, 1 climber from Azerbaijan) and 6 women first reached the summit at 4:15pm. To escape cold wind, climbers took refuge in the crater of Damavand peak which is replete with sulfur smoke of a dormant volcano. The last members of the summiting team reached the peak 15 minutes later at 16:30; they immediately followed the first members who had already left before sunset.







Eventually, 69 climbers successfully climbed the summit. This was the most populated winter summit ever made from the South face (It should be pointed out that in 2000, 140 climbers were able to summit in winter but from four faces, 60 climbers of whom had scaled from the South face).

All climbers were in good health in the morning of Monday 30th January, having left the third shelter (called: Bargah-e Sevvom) down to Gousfand-Sara camp and finally to Polour. At 14:00, all climbers left the area and returned to Tehran or their cities. Climbers from other countries were transported to their hotel, where they took some rest before they left for their home countries. They expressed their satisfaction from the event and were happy to have had the chance to experience the climb on Damavand, the highest volcanic mountain in Asia and the highest mountain of the Middle East.



Notable points of the program:

- 24 members of rescue team workers and Red Crescent climbers to aid the program of ascending accompanied climbers. We thank all.

-   In the opening ceremony some local Damavand guides were appreciated:

Hamze Baee, South route guide

Hassan Faramrzpur, South route Guide

Ali Salehi, North route Guide

Mashalla Salehi, North route Guide


- An Iranian mountaineer’s death (despite helicopter rescue team’s efforts) in the West face two days prior to the event had partly overshadowed the event.


And the Expedition executives:

- Hamid Reza Olanj: leader of climbing

- Jalal Cheshme Qsabany: responsible for technical matters

- Doctor Moghadasi: responsible for rescue team

- Hamid Oliya: responsible for relief team

- Shiva Farsi: Leader of Women's team

- Rizwan Salmasi: responsible for Women's team technical matters

- Reza Ayaz: camp liaison (Polour)

- Hamid Baqerpur: camp liaison

- Mehdi Sohail Farid: responsible for registration

- Abass Ranjbar: logistics

- Majid Dorodgar: head of foreign climbers’ team and men ski-mountaineering

- Beytolah Syraee: leader of women’s ski-mountaineering team

- And team leaders: Rasool Naghavi, Mohammad Jodayyan, Mohammad Farahani, Mahmoud Hashemi, Iraj Maani, Omid Amohamadi, Hossein Moghadam, Ali Valizadeh, Arman Shahpari, Mojtaba Noormohammadi, Mohammad Nasiri, Jafar Nasser and ...

Damavand winter ascent 2012 was the result of a team work. We appreciate all those who have helped us and their name is dropped.






Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 February 2012 05:49



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