Iran, Birthplace of Mt. Damavand
Iran is the land of great conflicts. The Persian territory is the land of snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, deserts and exquisite forests. A land where apple trees and palm trees grow not too far from each other.
The diversity of geography, climate, and people along with a variety of ethnicities, with different cultures, accents and dialects, allow Iran to be one of the tourist destinations in the world.
Iran (Ancient Iran) is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Kharazm desert and Kura River to the north, by the Amu Darya basin, western mountains of Indus valley and the slopes of western mountains of Pamir to the east, by the western slopes of the Zagros Mountains and the Arvand Rud (river) basin to the west and by the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea to the south.
The two main mountain ranges of Iran are Zagros and Alborz. Zagros mountains extend from northwest to Khuzestan Plain, and Alborz mountains extend from west to east along the Caspian Sea (Mazandaran).
The Iranviva team aims to attract your attention to Alborz mountains, specifically the highest peak of the range, Mount Damavand. But before that it is better to review the history and background of Alborz Mountains and Mount Damavand.
A Brief History of Alborz Mountain Range
According to some historical documents, the history of Alborz Mountains and Mount Damavand dates back to over 8000 years ago.
Alborz has been called by a variety of names in Avesta, the Bible of Zoroaster. In Avesta, Alborz is named ‘Harā Barazait (Abarzayti)’, and Mount Damavand is called ‘Hokar ayr Khoshuth and siamak’. Most of these names show the importance and sanctity of this snow-white Giant. Many ancient works from antiquity have praised Mount Damavand repeatedly and it is stated that the Stars, the moon, and the sun rotate around Alborz and Damavand, and that God had been observing the Iranians over the peak of Damavand before blowing the sun.
Iranians are the people who understand their history, their past, present and future in the light of myths. The people of this land consider history as a scene of battle between the Good and the Evil and all know that finally it is the Good that will prevail over Evil.
Mountain range (Alborz ), in the south of the Caspian Sea, protects the central and southern Iran from moisture, like a wall. Hence, there are different climate types on either side of the Alborz mountain range. The northern area that is surrounding the southern part of the Caspian Sea is covered with lush forests and slopes and the climate is similar to that of the Mediterranean basin. The other side of the mountain range, the southern side, which is facing the plateau of Iran is dry.
Introducing Alborz Mountains
Alborz contain several peaks with altitudes of around 1000-5000 meters above the sea level. Some of these high peaks include: Alam-Kooh (Mount Alam) with an altitude of 4850 meters, Mt. Mehrchal (3920 meters), Mt. Tochal ( 3960 meters), Mt. Kharsang (4100 meters), Mt. Varevasht (4120 meters), Mt. Sarakchal (4150 meters), Mt. Kolon Bastak (4200 meters), Mt. Palan Gardan (4250 meters), Mt. Nazer Bozorg (4350 meters), Mt. Khol-No (4375 meters), Mt. Azadkooh (4398 meters) and Mt. Damavand (5610 meters).
If you are interested in more information about Alam Kuh mount, don’t miss our article “Brief description of Alam-Kuh”.
Mount Damavand, the Dormant Volcano
Mount Damavand is the highest peak in Iran, the highest volcano in Asia and one of the seven climbable volcanoes in the world. Mount Damavand is located in the northeast of Tehran. It is a dormant volcano, a stratovolcano type of volcano, dating back to the Quaternary period. There are some thermal sulfur hot springs and spa on the herb-covered foothills of Damavand. Mount Damavand is the first natural heritage recorded in the Iranian National Archives. According to the geological studies and determining the relative altitude of the mountains, after Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Pico Cristóbal Colón, Mount Lougan, Oyzaba, Vinson, Puncak Jaya, Elbrus and Mont Blanc, Mount Damavand is the twelfth highest peak in the world, based on the relative altitude (peak height relative to the lowlands). Besides, this peak is higher than the well-known peaks like Nanga Parbat, K2, and Dhaulagiri.
The minimum temperature in Mount Damavand in winter is as low as 60°C below zero and in summer about 1 to 2°C below zero. It receives an average of 1400 mm of precipitation each year, mainly in the form of snow.
Climbing Mount Damavand is possible all year round. This is the main advantage that attracts Iranian and non-Iranian climbers. But the best time to climb this volcanic peak is in summer.
Atmospheric instability in changing seasons will makes climbing very challenging and exciting. For example, climbing this peak in winter is kind of struggling with the glaciers, Siuleh Glacier and Dubi-sel Glacier on the northern face, Yakhar Valley Glacier on the northeastern face, and the icefall, which is unique in the world, with a height of seven meters and a diameter of three meters on the southern face.
Mount Damavand is a climbable peak. Adventurous climbing plans are the obvious characteristics of this volcano. For example, you can start by bike from the Caspian Sea coast, at an altitude of zero meters, and pass through the mountainous and forested path to the starting point of climbing. In winter, it can be done with Turing skiing to the peak of Mount Damavand and skiing down the mountain. The other climbing plan in winter is technical ascending the glaciers on different faces. In spring and summer, the speed ascension (sky-running) and staying at night in a shelter at a height of 5 thousand meters or on the summit, is the adventure and attraction of Damavand Peak.
Climbing Mount Damavand is normally done through the southern, western, northern, northeastern faces. The oldest and easiest route to climb is the southern face. On this route, there is a sulfur hill near the peak. At this point, the sulfur gas emissions by the dormant volcano creates a mythical atmosphere. But the Western face, which has a steep slope, requires climbing numerous snowy and rocky routes. The Simorgh Shelter allows the mountaineers on this route to rest and rejuvenate. The Northeastern face is the longest ascending route with Takht-e Fereydoun shelter. And finally the northern face, through which the climbers can climb and reach the summit by the northern ridge of the peak.
Iran Mountaineering Federation has implemented some regulations for climbers to climb safely, with the lowest risk and accident and to conquer the tallest Iranian peak. One of the requisites is having a Climbing Permit from the Mountaineering Federation, which is only issued for the mountaineering clubs.
A Brief description about Mount Damavand
Elevation: 5610 meters above sea level, The highest peak in Iran, The highest volcano in Iran, Middle East and Asia
Relative Height: 4667 meters, The twelfth highest peak in the world based on relative height
Age: It is estimated to be about 38,500 years old.
Location: In the center of the Alborz mountain range, near the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and in Larijan, a district in Amol, in Mazandaran province
Adjacent Cities: Rineh and Gazanak are the towns located at the foot of the mountain., Mount Damavand is located 26 km northwest of Damavand city, 62 km southwest of Amol city and 69 km northeast of Tehran
Temperature: The minimum temperature is 60 degrees below zero and the maximum temperature is 2 degrees below zero.
Wind: The average Storm speed is about 150 km / h. On the slopes, the wind speed reaches about 70 km / h. Wind direction is from the west and northwest.
Precipitation: The average annual precipitation in the heights is about 1,400 mm, usually in the form of snow.
Air Pressure: Air pressure at this altitude is half of the air pressure at sea level.
Adjacent Rivers: Tineh River in the north, Haraz River in the south and east, Panj-ab (Five Water) River in the east and Lar and Div-Asiab in the west
Damavand Famous Glaciers: Siuleh Glacier (the northern face):
Dubi-sel Glacier (the northern face), Speleh Glacier (the northern face)
Arosakha Glacier (the northern face), Khurtabsar Glacier (the northern face)
Yakhar Glacier (the northeastern face)
Scattered glaciers and snowfields around Damavand:
Chal glacier and field (the eastern face), Sardagh glacier (between the western and southwestern ridges)
Gharbi glacier (between the northern, southwestern and western ridges), Kafar- Dareh glacier (between the southern and southeastern ridges)
Aspirin-Sar glacier (between the southern and southwestern ridges)
The Bargah-Avval Shelter in the southern ridge (at an altitude of 3000 meters from the sea level)
The Bargah-Sevom Shelter in the southern ridge (at an altitude of 4200 meters from the sea level)
The Sīmorgh shelter in the western face (at an altitude of 4200 meters from the sea level)
The Takht-e Fereydoun shelter in the northeastern ridge (at an altitude of 4400 meters from the sea level)
The Metal Shelter in the northern ridge (at an altitude of 4000 meters from the sea level)
The Metal Shelter in the northern ridge (at an altitude of 4630 meters from the sea level)
Waterfalls: The icefall is located on the south route of Mount Damavand, which is frozen throughout the year, and a small amount of water flows for a short time only in summer at noon, because of the increasing temperature.
Climbing Routes: North Route: This route starts from Siuleh and Dubi-sel Glaciers on the right and left. There are two shelters on this route: the 4,000-shelter at an altitude of 4,000 meters above the sea level and 5,000-shelter at an altitude of 4,700 meters above the sea level.
After passing the last shelter, they climb up to the summit. What should be considered in climbing this route is that there is no water along the way.
A sheep house at the beginning of the path is the last place where climbers can access water.
Northeast Route: This route begins from a village, Haji Della, on the northern side of the mountain, and then after passing the sheep house and passing through the meadow, it reaches the Takht-e Fereydoun shelter. The route ends with traversing the Arosakha Glacier, and after passing through the northern ridge, we reach the summit.
The interesting thing about this route is that returning would be through large dune sand skiing from the village of Gazaneh.
West Route: This route begins with a car park at an altitude of 3,400 meters above the sea level, after that it reaches the Simorgh shelter and the western ridge and finally the summit. It should be noted that there is only water in the Simorgh shelter on this route and the end of the route is with steep slope.
South Route: The South route is the oldest and easiest climbing route. This route begins from the Polour village, and after Lar and Rinh villages, we reach the beginning of the climbing route in sheep house and Sahib Al Zaman mosque at an altitude of 3000 meters above the sea level.
The path continues to the Bargah-Sevom Shelter and goes up through the sulfur hills toward the summit.
Volcano: The diameter of the crater is about 400 meters, covered by a lake of ice., According to some investigations, its last eruption was around 7300 years ago, and according to some others it was about 24,000 years ago.
Etymology and History: Dam (steam) + Avand = Damavand that means “having smoke and steam”
The name of Mount Damavand is employed very much In Iranian literature, and it’s a symbol of firmness and strength.
It is mentioned in Persian mythology that Zahhak (a symbol of an evil person) has been imprisoned in one of the caves of Mount Damavand by Fereydoon (an Iranian legend) until the end of the world, then he will finally escape and ravage the world and kill the people until he will be murdered by Garshasb (a legendary Iranian hero who awakes from a long sleep at the end of the world).
To some of the locals, the voices heard from the mountain are likened to Zahhak’s moans.
The First Ascend: According to the itineraries, the first climbing was in 905. The first recorded ascent of Damavand dates back to 1627, by the English man Herbert from the south route. In addition, the first ascent recorded by an Iranian team dates back to 1857 by Colonel Mohammad Sadegh Khan Qajar’s team.
Himachal Mountaineering Club
Himachal Mountaineering Club is a professional and active club with official permission from the Mountaineering Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Himachal with professional instructors and guides makes it possible for the adventure enthusiasts and those who are interested in mountain-climbing to experience a safe and memorable ascent. Himachal allows non-Iranian climbers and adventurers to experience a memorable ascent, too.
And to recap, Mount Damavand is the symbol of culture and mythology of Iranian eight-thousand-year-old civilization and the manifestation of Iranians’ glory, resistance and perseverance in different ages.