Ascent of Damavand on 2009-08-05

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Bob Packard
Gerry & Jennifer Roach
Ken & Karen Jones
Phinella Henderson
Kim Myung Joon
Date:Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Elevation:18406 ft / 5610 m

Ascent Trip Report

We climbed this peak on an Anatolian Adventures itinerary, with local guiding provided by Tehran based Araz Tours. Most of us arrived on the morning of Saturday 1 Aug and spent the day in and around the Ferdossi Grand Hotel in central Tehran (1200m). On Sunday the remaining 3 members arrived, having just climbed Ararat – again with Anatolian Majid our Iranian guide also arrived with his wife Neda. He advised that there would be no need for ice axe or crampons as the route was snow free.

Sunday afternoon we drove NE to the mountain, stopping en route at a restaurant on the way up the steep pass, following the A01 (A101) to Polur (fine views of the mountain from just before the village - a big steep cone). Turn L into the village on a minor road (note a prominent gold-colured statue at the junction, pointing upward to Damavand). In approx 3km turn L onto a smaller road then shortly (N35:51.045, E52:04.182) R onto a roughish zigzag dirt road. The latter is passable with care by 2WD vehicles although we got ours (a small bus) to stop a little way short, walking the final 100m of ascent to the Lower Camp, 3040m. We set up camp on the level concrete roof of an old building. There are several buildings including a mosque-type structure and a small stall selling memorabilia.

Monday we took an acclimatization hike to the Upper Refuge, 4255m then returned to the lower camp. The trail is clear and well marked all the way. Tuesday we hiked up to the Upper refuge and stayed overnight. Our kit was taken up on mule-back.

Wednesday 5 Aug was summit day. We set off at 05:30. A worn trail zigzags up directly behind the hut, following an easy rocky ridge (very minor scrambling). After 1h the party split, and I went ahead with the Ararat party and one of the guides. They were better acclimatised than I and after 30 mins at a murderous pace I was done for! I made the rest of the ascent at a much slower pace, tucking in behind one of the many Iranian groups most of the way, together with Phinella and the guide Hassan. Aaron and "MJ" were there well ahead of us. The rocky ridge gives way to loosish steepish ground, culminating in a section of level ridge, before steeper ground leads to the summit rocks.

We were at the summit in cloud, and Hassan was keen to head straight down, so we didn't visit the northern summit, a short way across the crater and reportedly of very similar elevation. Shortly after the rest of the party arrived, at midday the cloud cleared and they were able to hand-level both ways between the two summits, reporting them as indistinguishable in elevation, so the 2 points are clearly within 1m of each other.

The descent was much more rapid - scree-running most of the way. For the first section we kept L of the little ridge, then crossed over to the R side. We rested in the sunshine, had some food then skittered downwards again, re-crossing the rocky ridge a couple of times before arriving back at the refuge. We spent a second night there, then mid morning Thursday we descended to low camp and were driven back to our Tehran hotel. We stopped at the same restaurant again en route for a late lunch. NB Thursday was a very busy day on the mountain with maybe as many as 200 heading for the summit and a similar number heading up for high camp: the weekend pattern in this islamic country.

Friday we were taken on a cultural tour of the capital. In the morning we looked at several fine old buildings near the hotel, most of which are now government buildings; also the last remaining of the 12 city gates. Then the Iran National Museum, packed with archaeological goodies. Then the Palace - stunning decor. Lunch was taken at the north (posh) end of the city, then we took in the Persian Carpet Museum before rounding things off with a souvenir shop (which happened to be opposite the heavily sloganed compound of the ex US Embassy.

This was effectively the end of the trip. Saturday the UK contingent returned to Heathrow; I flew out to Barcelona a couple of hours later to meet Bob Packard again for a week's peak bagging in Spain, commencing with Mont St Jeroni and Pico de Aneto.

Overal impressions: Iran was fine, v friendly, all we met on the mountain saying they were happy to have us in their country. The slogans on the ex US embassy wall were amusing, with a souvenir shop neatly placed over the road to give tourists full benefit. Tehran Palace was amazing; National Museum was interesting (archaeology), with 4000 years of history you can see why they don’t like the US with 200 years ordering them about. Sort it out, guys!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8432 ft / 2570 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.5 mi / 12 km
    Route:South face
    Trailhead:Camp above Polur  9974 ft / 3040 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Animal/Pet, Hut Camp, Tent Camp
    Weather:Cool, Windy, Low Clouds
Ascent Statistics
    Time:7 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes

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