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My Ascent to Biblical Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat stands 5,165 meters tall, captivating everyone who sees it from the Armenian side. Climbing Ararat had been a childhood dream since the moment I first laid eyes on that majestic mountain at the age of 8. Finally, in 2019, I turned my dream into reality and stood at the summit of the biblical Mount Ararat. Here is the story behind my extraordinary journey.

I hail from Vanadzor, and my first glimpse of Mount Ararat was at the age of 8. During a trip to Yerevan with my father, our bus stopped somewhere already near Yerevan (it was a huge Ikarus bus and was slower than a turtle) we got out of it and I saw mount Ararat for the first time… a breathtaking sight... From that moment, a persistent desire to conquer its summit planted itself within me. It took me an additional 22 years to fulfill this dream.

The best view that opens up towards mount Ararat is from Armenia, alas it came under the Turkish control during1921 Treaty of Moscow and Treaty of Kars

Day 1

In August 2019, I joined Armenian Geographic, which is organizing tours to Mount Ararat. Due to the closed border with Turkey, our route led us through Georgia before entering Turkey—an unusual but necessary detour for Armenians. Our first stop in Turkey was at the shore of Lake Cildir, a large freshwater lake in the provinces of Ardahan and Kars in northeastern Turkey.

It was a relaxing break on the shore of Lake Tsovak (Cildir)

We took a short break, and afterwards, we headed towards the ruined medieval Armenian city of Ani, located in Turkey's Kars province. Ani, separated from Armenia by the Akhuryan River gorge, remains a dream destination for every Armenian. I finally saw the walls of the mighty fortress and visited churches in there. Our journey continued to Bayazet, where we settled in a hotel.


Day 2

After a hearty breakfast, we set out on our ascent. The car transported us to an altitude of around 2200 meters, marking the beginning of our climb. We hiked up to an elevation of 3300 meters, a relatively easy part with a large group.

 Horses carried our substantial bags, making it a leisurely stroll for many

Upon reaching 3200 meters, we set up tents, and our Kurdish guides efficiently prepared dinner. The sunset offered a spectacular view of Bayazet city and nearby settlements. Nightfall brought the hum of drones (military I guess) and the sounds of horses, but overall, it was a peaceful night's sleep.


Day 3

An early start marked the beginning of the day. After packing up our tents and having breakfast, we resumed our ascent. The terrain became steeper as we approached 4200 meters. At this altitude, finding space for tents was limited, and the winds carried dust, necessitating buffs and sunglasses. Dinner was served, and we rested until around 1 AM.


Camp 2 at an altitude of 4200 meters!

Day 4

After waking up we had tea and commenced our nighttime ascent. This section was steeper, but our Kurdish guide led us steadily, making it a manageable climb for everyone. After about 3.5 hours, the first rays of sun illuminated the surroundings, and we encountered the snow layer.

We are taking the final steps toward the summit! As the sun rose, a captivating scene unfolded. We witnessed the shadow of Mount Ararat.

Putting on our crampons, we moved forward, finally reaching the snow-covered summit. As I stood there, I couldn't help but think of Noah's Ark possibly resting somewhere beneath the snow. I raised the flag of Armenia, capturing the moment with photos and even shooting a chess video for my YouTube channel, "Chess with Suren," on top of Ararat.

Flag of Armenia at the top of mount Ararat

Time passed swiftly, and although I hoped to see Armenia from the summit, it remained hidden under a white curtain. Mount Aragats and artificial ponds near the Turkish border in the Ararat valley were the only discernible features. We took a group photo and reluctantly descended, adhering to the schedule. Each time I now gaze upon Mount Ararat, a sweet reminder echoes in my ears—a dream fulfilled, an unforgettable memory etched in my mind.


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