How about the idea of climbing in Iran? For me, it is a simple, YES!
I have visited Iran on a few occasions, mainly for the purpose of Sport Climbing Competition. First visit was in 2002 where I was there as a IFSC* Judge for the Asian Youth Championship. I stayed on to climb Mt Damavand – the highest point in Iran. After a decade, I revisit Iran as a Technical Delegate for yet another Asian Youth Championship. This year in May, I returned as the Jury President for Asian Championship; two months later, I returned to climb Mt. Damavand (again). To sum it all, I have visited Iran four times. The experience is consistent – the people of Iran are very hospitable, and the landscape is still as beautiful and alluring.
Climbing Mt. Damavand – the 2nd time
The mountain remains the same. The major difference that I have noticed has been the support at the base of the mountain – Goofand Sara, there is a shop, and the huge mosque that gives the landscape an added sense of serenity.
The challenges of this 5612m tall volcanic mountain remain. The mid-way rest point at 4250m – Barghahe Sevom has a shelter, I called it a hut. Climbers can choose to either stay in the hut or in a tent. It used to be just a huge canvas tent.
This climb to Mt Damavand has been special. Firstly, I am elated to be able to climb with one of my everest team mates, Yihui. It has been a long time since we last climb together. Next, meeting the legend climber Prof Peter Habeler was a bonus for sure. Prof Peter Habeler is notable for the first ascent without supplementary oxygen of Mount Everest in May 8, 1978 together with Reinhold Messner.
Mt Damavand is highly doable by many. It is a good peak to climb to experience altitude in about 10 days, and do not require to invest in expensive climbing gear.
Look out for our climb to Mt Damavand in 2014 summer!
Yours in adventure,
* IFSC – International Federation for Sport Climbing