Ascent of Mount Ararat on 2020-08-05

Climber: Bill Hughes

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Mount Ararat
    Elevation:16854 ft / 5137 m

Ascent Trip Report

Day 1: Arrived Igdir, transfer to trailhead, climb to C1
Day 2: Climb C1 to C2
Day 3: Summit and descend

Legally you can only climb Mt Ararat with an authorised guide and getting a permit a month in advance, which is what I did. However, I did meet two Ukrainian guys who were climbing it independently without a permit and said they hadn’t encountered any problems with the authorities or guides, so doing it independently may be possible but obviously at some risk of getting stopped.

There are a number of companies offering guided trips to Mt Ararat, typically over 6 or 7 days. I felt that a bit excessive and went with mtararattrek because they offered a 4 day programme and responded best to my enquiry email. The guided programmes all seem to include arrival and cultural tour on Day 1 and departure on the last day, meaning that a 4 day programme is in fact only two climbing days. This could have been ok if I’d been able to climb the succession of mountains I had lined up prior to Mt Ararat, but Covid-19 put paid to that plan, so I agreed with Burhan to forgo the arrival/culturing tour on day 1 and instead go straight from the airport up the mountain.

Arrived Igdir Airport 11:15, taxi transfer to Dogubeyazit took an hour and then minibus to trailhead half-an-hour. Met at trailhead (2,200 m) by “friend of Burhan” who guided me up to Camp 1 (Base Camp) at 3,400 m, which took 3:45 h easy walking at guide-pace. This was mtararattrek’s alternate Camp 1/Base Camp, which is on the ridge 1 km to the SW of the main Camp 1. Multiple tent platforms on rock/dirt surface and kitchen tent. Next day climbed to Camp 2 (4,100 m) along easy zig-zags. Multiple tent platforms built on rock surface, and kitchen tent. Camped on one of the higher platforms which gave me a great view of the mountain from the tent door. Started summit ascent the next morning at 02:00 (some groups left at 01:00). Good zig-zag route for the most part over scree and rock (YDS 1-2). Snow from 4,900 m. Snow was mostly hard with icy patches, making crampons essential, and I was glad to have brought an ice axe, though few others had one. Final climb and summited 05:35, so 3:35 h from C2 to summit. The two independent Ukrainian guys did it in 3:15h and I passed one of the groups who set off at 01:00 and who would have summited about 06:00 after 5 h, so 3-5 h from C2 to summit seems reasonable depending on your speed. Clear weather and light winds made the temperature quite pleasant even on the summit. While I was glad of having thick gloves and socks, I spent much of the climb with my down and softshell jackets unzipped, and had no need of the hardshell and buff that I’d brought for extra warmth. Great views from the summit as you’d expect, and was nice to have it to ourselves.

Injuries on this mountain tend to happen on the descent so I took it slow and got back to C2 about 08:00 (the guide told me his record is 30 mins). Another 1:30 h back to C1 then 4 hours wait for a horse to bring my main bag down from C2. Followed horses and horseman from alternate C1 down to trailhead, using the main, dusty trail via the main C1 and a drinking pond for the horses, which took about 4 h with the various detours. Minibus was waiting for me there to transfer me to hotel in Dogubeyazit
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:9577 ft / 2919 m
    Total Elevation Loss:9577 ft / 2919 m
    Round-Trip Distance:17.7 mi / 28.5 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Headlamp, Ski Poles, Guide, Animal/Pet, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:2 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:9577 ft / 2919 m
    Distance:7.9 mi / 12.6 km
    Route:Eastern path to alternate C1
    Start Trailhead:39.655008 N, 44.224517 E  7277 ft / 2218 m
    Time:10 Hours 4 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:9577 ft / 2919 m
    Distance:9.9 mi / 15.9 km
    Route:Via western path below main C1
    End Trailhead:39.655008 N, 44.224517 E  7277 ft / 2218 m
    Time:7 Hours 20 Minutes

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