Second day of our Ararat ascent is acclimatization climb without heavy load to lower camp 2 at 4100 m. Our surroundings become more moon-like, patches of grass slowly disappear as we gain altitude. Well-trodden route winds up the slope between unstable rocks and dust. I dot feel any discomfort related to altitude so instead of taking an hour rest with my group I go higher to 4500 m only to return with everyone back to camp1 for another night at 3200 m.
On the third day we move our camp to C2 and again reach 4100 m. After an early dinner everyone goes to have a rest in their tents before the summit push at night.
We get up around midnight to have a short breakfast. Soon after 1 AM we depart from Camp 2. Sadly, I was not allowed to do a speed solo ascent thus I join a line of headlamps illuminating the darkness. Local guides take up positions at the front and back of our group to make sure no one stays behind or gets lost. Our pace is rather slow to maximize everyone’s success chances and mitigate short acclimatization and differences in sport training. Being used to harder workouts I cannot keep myself warm so I put on additional layer of clothes.
As we move up via western slope with first rays of sun we an opportunity to watch Ararat cast it’s huge shadow on the flatlands below. As we gain altitude the wind picks up lowering the negative temperature even more. We pass first people form other groups who gave up.
Finally we reach the top ice cap and put on crampons. Mildly inclined ice and snow slope leads to the now visible summit. Within less than an hour we all stand on the highest peak in Turkey (5137 m) surrounded by clouds.
Was it a difficult expedition? In my opinion not really, the route is not technically demanding, without any climbing sections. One must take onto consideration the altitude and fitness level required for all-day hiking with a backpack.
For me the biggest challenge was …. dust, especially in lower section of Ararat; kicked up with every step, carried by wind, mysteriously getting into every nook and cranny of the tent covering everything with a thin layer of brown dust…