Information for climbing Mt. Ararat
Mt Ararat is a classic stratovolcano (cone shaped); it is not a part of a mountain range but stands alone with its partner Little Ararat. Ararat, at 5137m (16854 ft) has a permanent covering of ice at the summit; it is an impressive sight that dominates the skylines of Turkey and the adjacent territories of Armenia, Nakhichevan (Azerbaijan) and Iran. A permit is required to climb Ararat and this will be secured by us and its costs are included in the cost of the expedition. However, this will take a couple of weeks to process but all we require is a photocopy of the ID pages of your passport. In the past this was necessary because of the political sensitivity of the region and security issues that affected this once sensitive border area. The security and political issues are no longer a factor so although the permit is still required it is obtained from the authorities locally and is intended to regulate the numbers of people on the mountain and to cover the costs of search and rescue.
Our mountain guides are not only fully licensed by Türkiye Dağcılık Federasyonu (Turkish Mountaineering/Alpine Federation) but are all highly experienced local men who have spent their lives on and around Mt Ararat. Our principal climbing colleague has climbed Ararat over 200 times. In addition to our guides there are teams of porters managing equipment and supplies on pack animals. The porters are all experienced local mountain men. We always emphasise the fact that in terms of a group’s progress up the mountain, the senior guide’s decisions regarding the health or fitness of any individuals and his judgement of the weather and safety conditions are final. Success rates will vary according to season, and the weather on Ararat can be changeable but in July we can say that we would expect about 85 to 90% of people would achieve the summit. The determining factor is
really fitness and a tolerance of altitude.
The Turkish name for Ararat is Ağrı Dağı which literally means “Mountain of Pain”. While this is not a technical climb the Turks have named it well because it is not easy and you will be working at high altitudes on some steep inclines across rocky volcanic surfaces. The Kurdish name for Ararat is Çiyaye Agiri which means Mountain of Fire. Ararat is not quite as high as Mt Kilimanjaro but it is a much more challenging proposition. We suggest that anybody who wishes to climb Ararat must be physically fit and that a training programme for those who do not trek at higher altitudes regularly is necessary. You should be able to walk 10 – 15 miles over varied terrain at varying inclines comfortably but previous experience of high altitude trekking, climbing or traversing ice is not necessary.
General Information on Lake Van Region: Nemrut, Artos & Suphan
Like Ararat, Mt. Suphan is a dormant stratovolcano and at 4058 metres it Turkey’s third highest peak. Located on the northern shore of Lake Van it command spectacular views of the entire lake region including Artos to the south and Nemrut to the south west. The principle routes to the summit are on the southern eastern flanks of the mountain. Our starting point is just above the village of Harmantepe. From our camp above Harmantepe our trek to the summit begins at around 2 am for an 8 or 9 o’clock arrival at the summit. This is not a strenuous climb although the last 300 metres is on a steep incline over very loose rock surfaces which is quite difficult. The summit is an impressive depression with a permanent lake which may be frozen even as late as the end of June or early July. Suphan is an ideal mountain for acclimatisation for Ararat or as a trek on its own and can be completed in one day
Altitude sickness is very unlikely but the summit does put you at the altitude where it can occur which is why it is such a good option for preparation if you are going on to Ararat.
Located on the south west tip of Lake Van and rising above the town of Tatvan, Nemrut is a fascinating trekking destination. Nemrut is a large complete caldera and provides an excellent environment for mountain trekking and nature trails. The highest point on the rim is 3,050 metres while the floor of the crater lies 600 metres below and contains three lakes, one large cold lake and two smaller hot thermal lakes with a number of thermal blowholes located around the crater floor. The rim can be walked around its entire length and is about 35 kilometres. Nemrut was a principle part of prehistoric trade routes with Nemrut obsidian being found by archaeologists across the wider region and as far afield as Gobekli Tepe in southern Turkey and into Syria.
Mt Artos lies on the south eastern edge of Lake Van and rises above the provincial capital of Van and the small town of Gevaş. At just over 3,500 metres Artos provides good, moderate walking and an excellent training ground to get our visitors ready for the challenges of Suphan and Ararat as well as stunning views of the entire lake region. Artos also has excellent skiing facilities which are usable from December to late March.
Van Gölü, or Lake Van, is the second largest Lake in the Middle East region and the largest lake in Turkey. Lake Van is an endorheic lake, meaning that it has no outflow. The lake’s outflow was blocked during the late Pleistocene era when the last eruptions of Mt Nemrut blocked the outflow producing the unique environment that we see today. With no outflow the lake has developed as a saline and soda lake that has a startling blue colour. The lake is fed by many mountain rivers and streams and it is the inflow from the mountains that have allowed the survival of only one species of fish, the Pearl Mullet or inci kefalı. While the fish do live across the lake the waters are too alkaline to allow them to spawn so they conduct a spectacular annual migration in May and June to spawning grounds in the many rivers and streams that feed the lake with fresh water. Lake Van covers an area of about 3713 square kilometres and is more than 119 kilometres from east to west at its widest point. At an elevation of 1640 metres above sea level Lake Van is the jewel of Eastern Anatolia