BETWEEN BIBLICAL MOUNTAIN AND THE SLEEPY VOLCANO
“It seems to grow not out of the earth, but out of the sky as if it had condensed from its white clouds and deep blue. It is this snowy mountain, this bluish-white sunlit mountain that shone in the eyes of those who wrote the Bible.”
– Vassily Grossman
Since I was a child, I shared the love for high mountains and their mystical character. Even now, I remember how I would fall in sleep recalling the names of same of the most important peaks and their height, as well as their location. I love thinking about mountains because they show me how possible is to be alone and proud, at the same time. Nothing or nobody could ruin their tranquility and freedom. The personality of the mountains is to challenge the tiny human being, its egoism and devotion, and to decide if homo sapiens deserves the peak or not. Thats what the mountains are about, to be the last guardians of the Earth secrecy.
One of my own favourite big five mountains is definitely the fiery mountain of Turkey, majestic Ararat. I will never forget the scenery I witnessed, during the journey to Iran, being stuck with climbers somewhere in Turkey, in old good bus, back in 2006. That was a Serbian-Croatian Mountain climbing team with expedition to Ararat. Talking to them, I decided that I shall never give up on the mountains and my dream to conquer them. Those guys were devoted, strong and brave. The moody Ararat has been waiting for them and they told me, they were not sure that the mountain will let them com but they are ready to give all to be there, on the top of the world. In spite of the fact that beautiful Ararat is not the highest mountain in the world, it is one of the most mystical and one of the holiest mountains ever. Armenians believe that Azatn Masis is holy and free:” From the beginning of recorded history, the mountain has been at the center of creation stories, myths, and powerful legends. In the pagan religion of pre-Christian Armenia, Vahagn, the God of Fire, hurled his mace made of 1001 suns to the earth and is forced to hunt for it, only to stumble upon Ararat. Impressed with its beauty and majesty, the gods designated the cradle of the first human, Hayk. Ancient scholars in Mesopotamia believed that the snow-peaked mountains were the source of the life-giving Tigris and Euphrates River.” It seems that Ararat has a special place in the history of Arminian folk but even the Christians are weak on the legends about the Noah´s Ark and the biblical background of the Genesis. The Crusades did believe that the relicts of famous Noah´s Ark are somewhere on the top and they have to be found. In other words, this mountain is a sacred place for many civilisations and their link to the last shelter and the importance of the Ark myth. Not only the Crusades, the Seljuk Turks and the Ottoman Safavids have been trying to prove wrong or false the idea about Noah´s Ark. However, the mountain hadn’t helped to each of them. The mystery is still buried and not unveiled and the expeditions always go with the new hope, that the mighty Ararat will finally speak out.
In geological passport, Ararat is stratovolcanic mountain and the most elevated Peak in Turkey, West Asia and the part of Armenian Highlands. Funny but it has 2 main peaks, the Greater with 5,137 metres (16,854 feet) and the Lesser with 3,896 metres (12,782 feet). The top of the mountain is always covered with snow and ice, starting even on 4800 metres (15,750 feet), which means that some kind of technical climbing skill would be recommended. This doesn’t mean the super art of climbing but rather the ability to use crampons in the last hours of ascent. Climbing Mount Ararat require permission from Turkish local government in Dogubayazit, which is usually organised from the local tour operators. There are many of them who could offer the service and that is the only way to to the climb, since the mountain is in the ownership of the government and there are no available huts but organised camps.
If you have some of those wild dreams to get on this mountain, you need to set up the goals and to improve your health conditions and fitness level. The peak to obtain shouldn’t be impossible when you are healthy person with balanced life. This also means a little preparation for your mountain adventure because the life on the 5000 metres above sea level is a bit different than the one in the foot of its. As the experts for mountaineering always warn, the body has to be trained to adjust on the conditions of the tiny, cold and dry air. The preparation for the climb should usually take few months and it consists of regularly 3 times a week running ( 5 km) and the gym workout. That will definitely help to shape the fitness energy and to be on the top of the climbing task. The professional suggest to keep alcohol and cigarettes away because they could harm the healthy state of the body in the long period of time.
The best time to kiss the Ararat ground is during the summer months of July and August because in other months, sometimes is really, really cold and the one need to bring additional equipment, like crampons and ice axe. Dont forget to book your tour according to your acclimatisation feeling. Some agency offer the 4 days trip that is very popular but one of the best choices is indeed 6 days tour, with the better chances to reach the summit and to see all 4 countries from the top. This Mountain of Pain, as some call it, requires the mental but also the physical strength. You will need to walk up to 15 miles a day and also to survive the high attitude risks and that doesn’t depend on age or gender. You get it or you don’t get it at all. Ararat knows who will let it close and who will keep it away, from all secrets, protected for thousand of years. The mountain knows who is a friend and who will never be.