"Agri Dagi" Mount Ararat by John195123

Mount Ararat Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 41 photos

The mountain

Long hailed as the site of the remains of Noah's Ark, Mount Ararat probably is not, but it isn't all about Noah. The mountain is a hiking mountain, though at during some parts of the year you might need crampons and possibly an ice axe. It's not a technical climb, but it does get over 5000 meters, about 16,854 feet. The smaller Ararat is only 3896 meters. Climbing Ararat usually takes just a few days, and honestly the mountain isn't that hard. If you're in good shape, it shouldn't be a problem. But do note that there isn't much in the way of help on the mountain. While for the most part, up to the second camp, there are horses/mules to carry your bags, and possibly to take you down if you need it, it's best not to get sick on the mountain. Trust me on that. Be careful what you eat the week before you climb.

The city of Dogubayazit is about 2000 m, so it's about a 3000m climb, some of which is taken care of by jeep. There are two camps, the first at a little over 10,000 feet and the second a few hours from the summit. It's possible to descend the whole thing in one day. We did. (Sorry guys.)

Being sick on Ararat

More fun than climbing a mountain, more thrilling than reaching the summit, more amazing than watching the sun rise at the distant horizon is making it to a secluded set of rocks before your sphincter gives out. Ladies and gentlemen, I found the perfect place.

While there are bathroom facilities on Ararat, the shallow hole in the ground with two planks for your feet and a torn, green (or blue) tarp covering three sides of it, just don't always cut it. Besides, there's nothing to see but other climbers exploring around. No, you want something better. When you really gotta go, and go and go, there's a nice little place that affords an excellent view of the valley below. I should have taken a picture, but I don't want too many people to actually find it. However, if you face Ararat at camp one, turn left, then walk up the hill to your left and back toward the valley, there's a small outcropping of rocks. If you climb up in it, dodging the sheep droppings, you'll find a vertical rock (for leaning against) and a horizontal rock (for squatting on) with enough space between them for your sacrifice. Burn your paper on the rocks, and enjoy the view- just keep an eye out for sheep herders curious about the unusual sounds coming from the rocks.

In my case, I ate something bad (or was poisoned by candy I got from an Iranian climber). The first day was great, I, out of shape and all, beat my party to the camp. I woke up the next day, destroyed the camp bathroom and opted to not continue up. A smart choice, though I probably did more actual hiking than the rest of my party. The medicines didn't work. Fortunately there is a vendor who sells water, (beer?) and soft drinks.

Instead of summiting, I got to be sick on the side of a mountain, watch the rains sweep the valley, watch herders move their grazing herd, listen to many groups of climbers come together around a campfire to sing their country's songs to each other, and boulder with a 2mm rope and a lot of doubting onlookers. I'll get that summit, someday, I hope, but being sick wasn't so bad afterall. In fact, I recommend it.

For the love of climbing

One thing climbing does is it puts you in inextricable touch with nature. Not so much on the slopes of Ararat, and especially so on the faces of more serious mountains, climbing is about the sole connection, the synaptic embrace, fleeting and subject to misfires. In climbing, one depends on the weather, one depends on the rock to hold, the snows to hold off. One depends on his own skills, experience and not luck, so much as the rare bit of nature that overlooks the weary climber and passes on scraping him off its back. The tenuous grasp we have with nature in our everyday lives, with electronics, temperature controls and shelter are made simply obsolete on the mountain. The mountain grabs us, holding us to its will. And we don't fight it- we can't. We'd lose. We try to work with it, within its rules, its laws. And the rains may come still. There is no appeasing an inanimate object. Neither is their appeasing nature, and that, in part, is why we climb- not simply for the next summit or hoizon, not simply to have done it, but to be there, struggling through a real battle, life and death with no enemies, us and the mountain.

On the mountain, I met a girl from Iran, who seemed to take an odd, but short-lived interest in me. Maybe it's where I was from, I don't know, but so many people from so many places climb the same mountains, and nature treats them all the same.

  • Intro Updated Mar 12, 2008
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  • Nov 6, 2008 at 12:35 AM

    thank you for your comments,could you please correct the name of Ararat in your essay to AGRI? Ararat is not the turkish name of the mountain.


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