Iran – UIAA Youth Camp Twin Peaks Alam Kuh + Damavand
Mt Damavand (5610m) is the highest peak in Iran and Alam Kuh (4850m) is the second highest. Both mountains are part of the Alborz Mountain Range that is located in the north of Iran.
Mt Damavand, the most prominent feature of Iran looming majestically near the southern coast of the Caspian, is well known for several reasons. It is not only the highest peak in Iran and the Middle East, but, also the highest volcano in Asia. The word "Damavand" means snow. Indeed, snow can be found on Mt Damavand, almost all year round, including in summer. A sub-active volcano, there are fumaroles that are still emitting steam and volcanic gases near the summit crater. An inescapable pungent sulfur smell from the steam and volcanic gases dominants a part of surrounding air, near the summit, and is often described as rotten-egg smell by climbers. In early summer, a large array of bright and colourful flowers, like the red-hot Tulipa Montana, blankets the lower terrain of Mt Damavand, giving a dramatic contrast to the barren or sometimes snow-covered peak.
"Alam" means some sort of object standing straight like a flag and "Kuh" means mountain. Alam Kuh, a very beautiful rocky mountain, is mainly made of tertiary intrusive rocks of granite and diorite. Part of the Takht-e Suleyman Massif, the mountain range is supported by permanent snow and glaciers with lots of peaks surrounding the main Alam Kuh peak. There are several routes with different level of difficulties suitable for technical training in the area. The southern slopes range tend to be dry and barren, the northern valleys leading to the Caspian Sea (which offer the best approaches to the mountains) are wet and lush with vegetation. Like Mt Davamand, Alam Kuh is covered with bright and colourful flowers during summer. Set in the lush green and stunning valley, Alam Kuh is without a doubt, a beautiful mountain to climb in summer.
About The Climb
We climb Alam Kuh first, followed by Mt Damavand. From Tehran, we transfer to Vandarbon to stay a night. The next morning, transfer and take a short and easy trek (4 hours) straight to the base camp at Hesarchal (3400m). Hesarchal is a very huge, colorful and green flat ground, surrounded by high mountains on all sides. Day 2 of Alam Kuh trek is an acclimatization climb on scree terrain, and, possibly with some ice and snow, to the nearby beautiful glacial lake - Lashgarak (4000m). The summit day is on Day 3. Spend another night at the base camp after the summit climb. We descend the same way from the base camp to Vandarbon on the last day of the Alam Kuh trek and transfer to Roodbarak for a relaxing and recovery time near the Caspian Sea before climbing Mt Damavand.
After Roodbarak, we transfer to stay at the Federation Mountain Lodge in Polour for a night to prepare for the climb on Mt Damavand (South Route). The Mt Damavand climb begins with a drive from Polur to Goosfand-Sara (3250m) and a moderate uphill trek (4- 5 hours) to the high camp at Barghahe-Sevom (4250m). The uphill terrain to the high camp can be filled with summer flowers. Nearer the high camp, there may be snow and ice conditions.
Mt Damavand summit climb is about 10 to 12 hours round trip. The first part of the climb is on loose scree terrain, followed by a steep ascend up some rocky sections, that require some scrambling. The final 500m is usually a mixture of loose scree, snow, ice and slush. The most challenging part of the summit climb is about 300m below the peak, known as “Doud Kouh” or sulphuric hill. The pungent smell of the sulphur can make the already difficult breathing at above 5000m even harder. A huge ditch lies ahead after “Doud Kouh” and leads directly to the top of the summit. On a clear day, the view from the summit includes the green jungles in the north of Iran, the Caspian Sea, the city of Tehran, and the lake of Lar. Part of the descend may be on a glacier slope, that may require the use of snow cleats/crampons, depending on the snow level and conditions. The descend the same way from the high camp to Goosfand-Sara. After the descend, head back to the Federation Mountain Lodge in Polour for a quick wash up before driving back to Tehran.
Good to have above 4000m high altitude trekking experience. Climbing the two peaks in summer does not require technical skills. However, it is highly demanding on fitness, strength and endurance. It also requires steady footwork on loose scree, rock scrambling and ice and snow terrain. There may be a need to wear snow cleats/crampons on glacier slope, depending on the snow and ice conditions.
You will be climbing 2 peaks, mostly on vertical mountain terrain with a personal backpack load of 5-6kg for 4 to 8 hours each day. For summit day, be prepared to trek for 10 – 12 hours starting at pre-dawn and in extreme zub-zero temperature.
Equipment and Gear
You can wear a t-shirt and trekking pants during the approach trek. Thermal base layers, a fleece jacket and an outer shell jacket are required. When at the campsites and after sundown, a down jacket will help keep you warm. A down sleeping bag is also needed.
Note: All female travelers who enter Iran MUST obey Islamic rules including Hijab or Islamic dress-code.
A packing list will be provided to all our participants. Please refer to our Resource Centre page to learn about the layering system and choose the right gear/equipment for your climb/trek.
- Dates listed is for UIAA Youth Camp for young mountain climbers from around the world. Adult mountain climbers are welcome to join too, to share experience and climb with the youths.
- Group size - 15 people to unlimited
- You can also form a private group for this trek. For enquiry, send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Day||Description||Meals||Altitude at Rest Point|
|Day 1||Arrive in Tehran||-/L/D||1189m|
|Day 2||Transfer to Kelardasht (1107m) and Vandarbon (2250m)||B/L/D||2250m|
|Day 3||Transfer to the trailhead in HesarChal||B/L/D||Hesarchal-3750m
|Day 4-5||Trek to Lashgarak. Attempt Alam Kuh's summit (4848m) the next morning. Descend back to Lashgarak's base camp after summit.||B/L/D||Lashgarak - 4256m|
|Day 6||Descending to Vandarbon and drive to a city on the shore of Caspian Sea.||B/L/D||Barghahe Sevom-4200m
|Day 7||Transfer to Polour Village.||B/L/D||2200m|
|Day 8-9||Transfer to Goosfand-Sara (3250m) and trek to high camp at Barghahe Sevom. Attempt Mt Damavand's summit (5610m) the next morning. Descend back to high camp at Barghahe Sevom after summit.||B/L/D||4200m|
|Day 10||Descend to Goosfandsara, transfer to Polour to wash up and pack up before driving back to Tehran||B/L/D||1189m|
|Day 11||Sight seeing tour in Tehran||B/L/D||1189m|
|Day 12||Depart Tehran||B/-/-|
- Return airport transfer in Tehran
- All land transfers as indicated in itinerary
- Sight-seeing tour is Tehran as indicated in itinerary
- Meals as indicated in itinerary
- Twin/triple sharing accommodation in Tehran
- Camping Equipment: Sleeping tents, sleeping mats and dinning tents
- Trek support: Mountain climbing guide(s) and porterage service using horses
- Permits & Fees : Trekking permit
- Trekking insurance coverage within Iran – Emergency evacuation and medical expenses on injuries and illnesses
- Entry Visa fee and code
- International air tickets, airline taxes and fuel surcharge
- Single supplement
- Meals not indicated in itinerary
- All tipping
- Personal porters
- Personal travel insurance (mandatory to cover agent insolvency and travel to Iran)
- Personal expenses like shopping, laundry etc
- Personal travel & trekking gear – warm clothing, shoes, backpacks etc
- Emergency evacuation and medical expenses outside Iran
- Compensation for damaged or lost of personal items (eg: climbing/trekking gear and equipment, cameras and any valuable items etc)
- Any expenses including accommodation, meals & transfer outside the stipulated trek/climb itinerary – i.e. any person leaving the group for personal travel, illness/injury or any form of extension of stay
Support from Ace Adventure Expeditions
We provide pre-trip support to prepare you for the trip:
1. Trip briefing and information kit
2. Gear list and gear discount from selected Singapore outdoor outfitters
3. Training guideline kit
4. Rope skill workshop (For climbs that require rope up and/or fixed rope skill)
We carefully select and establish strong working relationship with our local trek operator to ensure safe participation by everyone. Our local climbing guides are registered guides with Iran Mountaineering Federation. They have extensive experience in guiding treks in Iran, possess intimate knowledge of the local surroundings, conditions and culture and are trained in technical mountaineering skills and emergency rescue.
Training: Regardless of your level of fitness and physical conditions, it is advisable to train prior to embarking on a trekking or mountain climbing trip.
Pure cardiovascular fitness is NOT enough.
Focus your training effort in the following areas, assuming that you are in good health and injury-free:
- Climbing conditioning – stairs and load training.
- Cardio training - Jogging/running and interval training like CrossFit or HIIT.
- Strength training for the lower body, shoulder, back and core
- Flexibility training - eg: Yoga and stretching exercises
A good four to five months of training would be a good preparation for this trek.
A recommended training guide specific to the trek or climb will be given to you upon signing up.
Refer to our Grading chart for an overview on the technical difficulty and fitness required for this trek.
Refer to our Training Guide for tips on trekking and mountain climbing training.