Van – Ararat
All the ways pass Istanbul.
Emaciated by Ukrainian crisis, we arrived in sunny Istanbul. Airplane to Van will be only the next day.
Our hotel was right in the center, near the station, the Galata Bridge with fish and Hagia Sophia. Suite for five persons has only one drawback – the toilet. So, it was infinite queue and tight control of the dwell time.
Ivan after dinner went to bed at once, the rest went to town.
When you have a little time, the route is not very intricate. After seeing the Magic 3, including cisterns, we are faced with the phenomenon of Ramadan.
Unfortunately, this divine Muslim holy month has coincided with our arrival. In Istanbul, we are not faced with difficulties, but then have a lot of problems.
So, in the area we found all normally-dressed people, foreigners, police and so on in grand queue. In the beginnings we discovered tray with free food, from which the whole line fed. Bourgeois past has not allowed us to join the dying and zakat has passed without us. We also tasted the fresh sardines on the quay and gone to sleep.
Airplane to Van was not too early and we are not really in a hurry. Then, already at the airport, we rushed to the terminal D without the trucks with our bags, sweating and panting. Then it was changing of the gate and delay of the flight.
We are, as a people well-read and educated, staying in a crowd of Kurds, discussed the Iran-Iraq problems, the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, the possibility of applying new technologies in growing sugar beets in Turkey, as well as a national issue of Pashtuns. That makes in future problems to standing next to us a young man, may God give him health! Innocent question, do we’re going to Van to a referendum, as international observers, immediately spawned a request to help us with the car. We had no ideas where will live and what to do with transport.
Bayran, so called our rescuer, has promised to help.
In the airplane audience looked at us in silence, as we eat the lunch in Ramadan time….
In airport of Van Bayran and his brother just in hour organized a minibus with a driver for us. 700 TL for three days with gasoline.
It was very very hot in Van.
First, what we tried to visit was a monastery Akdamar (Ahtamar) – a masterpiece of Armenian architects of eight century. Alas. Any notes in the local sources. And we managed to get to the last boat, bought tickets for 13 people. The setting sun gilded the temple and its magnificent stone reliefs, played on the gravestones with ancient lettering.
When the sun went down, we were able, together with all the Kurdish people to taste not only a spiritual food. We almost was late and we got only four portions of local endemics – fish Tariha, who lives in Van.
After another couple of hours we passed Tatvan and headed towards Ahlat. There, according to reports from the Internet was a hotel on the beach of Van. My mail and calls to the hotel were without answer, so we worried about the question of overnight.
All was OK, but not cheap. At the time of settlement, we learned that we are now six with a driver,who lived with us at the same hotel.
In our program the next two days were – climbing the Volcano Nemrut 3050m and Suphan Dagi (4130m).
All night under the windows was loud music. Holiday, Ramadan. And people are now eating only from dusk to dawn, as we have heard, Our windows overlook the lake and a restaurant. A lot of bloodthirsty mosquitoes. Our friends had a room with view on the city and highway, and therefore Victor, Boris and Sergei hear all the cars. And it seemed that the cars go straight through the room.
Nemrut volcano (3050 m)
So, Sunday morning we went to Nemrut.
In the 7-30 came from the village and went straight up the hill. It was already hot. The legs clung disgusting spines. They crumble and stuffed in shoes, made terrible anguish. The slope was teeming with turtles. More than usual turtles. Many of them confused the season and came at a mating.
We moved up. The chain stretched a bit, but in general all successfully reached the summit
It opened an amazing painting – a huge crater (10 kilometers in diameter), rugged roads, with several volcanic failures, small lakes and volcanoes! Beautiful lakes. One was just great and took a good quarter of the crater. At the edge of the crater were scattered shiny black boulders with smooth round faults. Volcanic glass. In large quantities.
We climbed to the highest point of the crater. Height are very different, both on maps and on our instruments. Presumably, this was 2880 m.
Total for three hours, with stops, we went up to 850 m and made 6.5 km
We went inside the crater, but Ivan and Sergei decided to go down to the car and get it for us. Naturally, to help us get out of the crater…. Thank them! …
The road to the crater was sand and loose and completely vertical. We quickly rolled down.
Well, at the bottom, dropping all our clothes have fallen in the magical waters of volcanic lake. It was wonderful! Especially, we discovered some sort of cafe. Before our eyes swam roast lamb.
Not destiny. Ramadan. Only tea. But delicious.
Soon came friends and took us by car. Good!
Returning, we swim in Van. Anyway, like swimming in a solution for gargling. Water is absolutely soda, and even seems like soap-water!
Personally, I was very tired and hungry, we went to eat something in Ahlat. Alas. Ramadan and no restaurants worked! Men thoughtfully and sadly sitting along the streets, staring eyes in front of them. By the way, this is during the whole day.
I had to buy three grilled chickens vegetables, fruit, bread and go eat in the hotel. The driver walked around the chickens and sadly departed. Personally, I understand him – and why these celebrations need, when neither eat nor drink?!
An hour later, our eyes were closed and that’s all …..
Suphan Dagi (4058 m)
Quickly in the morning we eat. I was a little haggling over the price. We pay 250 Euros for 2 days.
Let’s go to Suphan.
Car pick up us to the village at the altitude of 2400 m. The volcano in all its glory stood in front of us. We walked briskly along the road, then turned to the trail. Soon the trail was lost among the tussocks, stones and sheep tracks. We had to climb to 4058 meters or where we reach))
So, we walked under the scorching sun, measuring meters in height and miles in length. Soon there were snow bedsores. Sometimes it was a trail. Even with human footprints. The last part was very difficult, steep rocky slope with sand. Well, at least not for very long.
When I climbed on top, I realized that this was not the top. Instruments showed that the top was more then 300 meters up, but I still wanted to believe in a greater error. I climbed a little higher and was expected friends. Within an hour we again were together. Cheese with honey wonderfully rejuvenated. Water was not enough.
So, it was still a long way to Dogabuyazit, We soon moved down. Ivan and Sergei decided to go last. Well. The entire slope has been viewed well.
I, Boris and Victor went ahead.
Ivan and Sergei are far behind and we soon lost them.
By 3m o’clock we reached the car. Nearly 13 km. 1250m in height up and down as much. Not a bad acclimatization! Boy from the village brought a thermos with a dream-cold ayran. And the second thermos with hot tea. We lay in the shadow of the car and rested. An hour passed. No one appeared. I called Ivan. Well, of course – they lost their way down and now were crossed the slopes. Angry and without water. The only reference point was always visible aerial of military base a few kilometers from the village. That’s where they went. We went there too, making car visible on the road from the mountain.
In general, an hour later we all gathered together.
Sergiy completely ripped boots. In rags.
Finally we went to Dogubayazit. By the road swim in Van , ate watermelon and after sunset, ate chicken. Until sunset we could not even dream about food – we could not even buy water at the store!
In Dogabuyazit we entered late in the evening. Dingy, uninteresting town has not made any impression upon us. We circled for a long time in search of Isfahan hotel. He was in the heart. A large building with spacious corridors, large rooms and a normal price of 12 Euros per person.
In the evening, came a guide, gathered the money and disappeared.
Agri Dagi, Ararat ( 5167 m).
Dryness in these areas so that the thick socks badly squeezed dry completely during overnight. As well dries up the body. We always want to drink.
Beautiful Dream interrupted by muezzin. Then a little more sleep.
In the morning looking for a pharmacy. Right on the street offered tours on Mount Ararat. About permission nobody says anything. Strange.
At 9 am, appeared guide Ali and two Englishmen.
Then we search for gas, slowly bought bread.
We disembarked at the foot of Mount Ararat in 10.30. The village of Ely, near which we started like the picture from Stone Age people. Only the presence of multiple antennas refreshing scenery.
At first, followed by a rocky dirt road, and then tracks. If it were not for the scorching sun, the general rise is not complicated. An hour later, stopped at a tent of Aborigines to drink tea. A flock of sheep huddled. All heads are lowered, escape from the scorching sun.
As told the guide, after all ascending the Russian people usually buy a sheep. There is a tradition. We also were offered to buy it-just over 200 Euros. We refused.
Our daily trip lasted 4.5 hours from 2150 to 3340m. Only 7 km.
Our bags and food had not yet arrived. Tea – also not ready.
It seems that our horses have gone somewhere and will not soon arrive. We found in the backpack piece of Swiss cheese.
At the Camp 1 lot of tents, a lot of people. Everywhere is not very clean. Toilet near every stone. Grazing horses. But there is a hose with water. You can wash. Soon came the horses with the luggage. We vividly put the tent. Tea and biscuits on the table appeared. Then it became cool.
For dinner, we came already dressed like in winter time. Our jar with honey was eaten by horse…. With pomegranates. Three.
At the bottom of the valley spread out the lights Dogabuyazit. Ararat puffed pink light.
It was dark and we went to sleep.
The night went well.
At a lunch we ate the jam, cheese and olives. It Could be more fruit and vegetables!
At 9 am came out. The slope is already creeping with chain of people. The trail is well trampled, comes up with a small slope. Go easy.
Along the path worn horse with baggage. They are really wild.
A light breeze, it becomes cool, then very cold.
3 hours a snail’s pace, we reached the second camp. From 3250 to 4010m. And on another device right up to 4150 m.
Here again, the ambush – there are no places for tents, a lot of people, the horses did not come.
We currently have settled on the stepping stones, dressed in all warm, that we carried. Guides sat on chairs at the site, closed by stones from the wind. Sit and drink tea. In our side do not even look
We waited another hour availability. Hooray! We have the tent. The outgoing guy wistfully told me that his guide, the famous Hakan, halfway to the summit said that he was tired and they went back! And the customers – a father and son, were full of strength and health. I personally have first hear such a story. Unhappy shook his head, whispered, it’s all Turks, and went down. Well, think of it, we have no right and tea room. What’s the harm?
Went snow pellets.
Everything. Drank tea with sweeties and go to sleeping bag.
The weather has deteriorated markedly. Swirled around the clouds. Then completely tapped snow pellets.
For dinner eat rice with chicken and drank a 5-liter kettle with tea. Ate all the jam. Weather quite so-so – at the top is a healthy blue-gray cloud.
Guide is calm, say he has his wedding day and he wants us to fear tomorrow to sneak down to the city.
Oddly, at night appears stars, the wind ceased, and even became warmer.
The dream was short. In the men’s tent, there was no sleep at all-close, head, feet, high altitude flatulence, etc.
After tea and cheese in the morning we start ascending.
The trail abruptly picks up the stones with small stones. We go very slowly and in an hour reach 200 m in height. Following creep two chain flashlights.
There is a breeze.
We go slowly, bottled water was freezing. When we came to the glacier, already sky became grey. Ararat floated over a tiny cloud. Chill dog. Although there is no wind.
Dragged to the top of another 40 minutes. Why guide advised to go without crampons? It would be more convenient.
Victor left behind, but steadily climbing up.
Finally we are on top! Walked 5.5 hours. Wow, all the days we had no clouds, and here came a big thick cloud, and all closed! Wait until she leaves it is simply impossible – the wind and cold.
The top is strange – just a comb on the top and boxes with magazines. We are made note about us, but could not see the book – the wind tore the page out of hand.
Under the snow caps have met Vitya – tired but not defeated. Went up.
And we trotted slowly down. And it is also hard. How are we so vigorously get here at night ?
Once emerged from the clouds at the bottom of the valley opened chic with craters and lava streams.
Down – during two hours. Boris has strong headache.
Dragged to the kitchen to camp 2 around 9 am Tea. And there is tea, watermelon. We did not know that it’s all food for this day.
And wallow in a tent.
At 10.30 came Victor – Well, not really alive.
We got to the top a kilometer in height and 3.5 km in length. In one direction.
Next plan was the descent to Camp 1 to 3200 m, but our guide since the first day mewl that he had a wedding (!) And on the day before would have to come down.
That is, after small rest in the tent camp 2 all started.
Headache, and even the tea is not watered (this, after climbing!), Ali further said that Camp 1 is no water and there is a free horse for Vitya to go down to the car. We trudged sluggishly down, and Victor with great effort was put on a horse near Camp 1. And this poor animal had already been loaded, unloaded and the other horses were added all baggage. We then saw it. Poor animal.
Victor also saddled his horse and then said that he was unclear what was worse – to walk or to ride.
About horses on Ararat I want to say a few words. All luggage, food, tents carried by the horses. Loaded mercilessly. The driver has in the hand a big club, which regularly beat the animal. Strikes occur, in the face and legs and just on the side. If the horse runs away – flying huge stones. I even saw a bloody bruise on the face of colt! Kurdish horses do not eat any human food, even bread. Freed from the baggage, they pluck sparse grass between the stones. Caravan horses – very picturesque scene on the slopes of Mount Ararat.
In the end, Ali asked to pay for a horse (!). We refused.
We’re in this wonderful day exceeded all imaginable and unimaginable personal records
- Conquered Ararat 5,167 m
- Ascent to summit and made 1 km
- Descent altitude made 3 km
- Went for a day, from 1 o’clock in the morning to 5 o’clock in the evening about 18 km