Great but unsuccessful climb to 5.000m, with 3 days stuck in high-camp

> Trek on Mt Ararat in Kurdistan on the border between Turkey and Armenia during late June <

Many people have visited the beaches and seaports of Turkey, one of the most fascinating countries on the planet. Yet few realize that just above the bays and coasts, an unspoiled countryside, rural hospitality and great mountain ranges await. We have experienced that from the Mediterranean over the Black Sea Coast to Eastern Anatolia, several spectacular mountain systems offer great trekking. In our view, the mother of them all is located in Eastern Turkey’s Eastern Anatolia Region – a part of modern-day Kurdistan – on the borders of Armenia and Iran: Mount Ararat.


This is a magnificent snow-capped, dormant volcanic cone formed of lava flows and pyroclastic ejecta with two beautiful peaks: Greater Ararat, which is the greatest peak in Turkey, rising 5.137m high, and Lesser Ararat with an elevation of 3.896m. It is said according to the book of Genesis that Noah’s ark came to rest on this mountain, and hence the mountains has for centuries dazzled and continues to dazzle travelers from all over the world. Normally the mountain is pretty straightforward. Yes, we agree that Mount Ararat is a strenuous mountain, and it can obviously be windy and cold, but who would expect a full week of high-wind snowstorm in July?


Our trek started in Eli Village where we trekked towards the first campsite at 3.200m. The next day we continued up to Camp II at 4.200m where we put up tents, had some rest and went for an acclimatization walk in the afternoon. We were supposed to ascend to the summit at 5.137m very early in the morning, but during the night, hell broke loose: snow, snow, snow, and high winds. We ended up spending four days in camp II waiting for good weather, while trying to perform acclimatization walks. It got more and more depressing as we learned from radio contact that the Armenian side of the mountain (the other side) had better weather, while our side was facing constantly bad weather for many days to come.


Eventually, we got enough as we had to continue our travel for one month into Iran, and we just kept on losing one day after another, and thus we ended up prioritizing Iran. A few years later, we encountered Mount Ararat once again on a journey to Armenia, and wow, what a gravitating power the view of this mountain has. We felt like putting on our boots right on and start walking. Who knows – inschallah – we might come back…

For more mountain climbing in the region, check our ascent of the roof of the Middle East in Iran. For travels in the region, we criss-crossed the Caucasus, and traveled all over Turkey, Iran, Syria, Kurdistan in Turkey as well as in Iraq.



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© Anders M. Pedersen & Jakob M. Pedersen. All photos have been taken by Anders & Jakob.

    Our guide

    With the permid we obtained from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey followed a guide - an official mihmandar, litterally an "escorter of distinguished visitors, certified by the Turkish Mountaineering Federation. He was very friendly but did not speak any English at all.