After climbing in Caucasus on Russian side I went by myself to Armenia to climb Mount Aragats. It has a few peaks but the northen one is the highest of 4090 m. My russian guide scared me and said “it´s very far away and there is a lot of wolves and bears in the area, promise me you will not climb it alone”. So coming to Jerevan I went to a hunting store to get som bear spray for protection since I was going to climb on my own. They didn´t have any so he suggested that I would get a stun gun instead. Felt so weird because they are illegal in Sweden but I did as he said just to have something to scare them away with in case I met any on the mountain. And I also had to break my promise to the guide of not climbing it alone. I had no one else to climb with and I thought after all thee mountains that it would be ok. I now have some experience and I had done research and it should be just a hiking peak.
I stayed in Jerevan one night and then drove up to the trail start the next morning. I was of course late as always and people asked me “are you really going to go to the northen peak by yourself at this time?” it was maybe 10 in the morning. But actually that was the perfect time because it had just rained a lot the whole morning so weather was more stabile now.
The first part is just a long traverse on some rocky ground. Then I went up to the south summit just to do that too. And then I had to climb down from there and that lead me to this place:
The col where you can reach the west peak to the left and the north peak straight. My russian guide was right, it was far away. Up to south summit is just 2 hours but since that is not the highest peak I had to continue. I also only had one day to climb it before the next mountain so it was now or never. Weather was ok, clear sight, no rain. So I went for it!
I was looking at what route to take. Either the closer way over the glacier to the left but the ridge looked more complicated from this side and there was risk aóf avalanche if you walked too close to the face so I decided so take the long way around on the right side. And just as I was making this choice I also catched up with two guys climbing to the northen peak. They had started about 30 min before me. One guy was from Iran and the other one from Austria. So I suggested we would all take company to the top!
After descending 300 altitude meters into the crater we started climbing up on the east ridge of the northen peak. It was never ending! Haha. I remember it was quite hard. Maybe it was just me having a bad day for my legs but the guys I climbed with was pretty fit (one had done Everest) and we all were kind of beat on the way up for some reason. And when you finally think you have reached the top there is a long ridge to traverse:
It might not look too bad in the photos but it was very exposed and no one else had gone to the true summit because there were not tracks in the snow. Everest guy decided to stay here since there were no protection along the route. And we didn´t have ropes as solo climbers. But I felt that I got this and started leading the way. Iranian guy was behind me and I could hear him be worried on every exposed part. I was really careful. Making sure the steps in the snow would hold and climbing with care over the rocks. But he was right to be worried. The exposure was real and at one point I started a small avalanche when I put my foot down and I could just see a big piece of snow falling down into nothing. And then finally:
Summit! I was super happy we made it! But I didn´t stay for long. I knew it was a long way back and clouds were coming in so I wanted to go back as soon as possible.
Iranian guy on the summit!
After going back over the ridge with care and then going down the rocky part we traversed over the glacier a little bit higher up to not loose too much altitude and get too low down in the crater on the way back. But as you can see, it´s still a long way back. And when you get to just under the col there is some altitude to gain again. We were back at the hotel where we started about 9 hours from when we left. All three of us had a nice meal together and then I drove the guys back to Jerevan and went to the airport. My flight to Tenerife was 4am in the morning so I decided to just sleep a little on a bench at the airport before that. And what happened then was crazy…
I have similar goal as you: I want to climb the highest mountains in every countries in the world that are higher than 4000m. The first one would be mount Cameroon in west Africa, but due to the conflict in that region and expensive air ticket I haven’t been there yet. Unfortunately, I have only accomplished mount Aragats. But I didn’t go the true summit due to the snow and loose volcanic gravel on the ridge. Before going there, I have climbed Rysy, Sněžka and Zugspitze in winter condition to practice my skills. My next mountain will be mount Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo. I hope I can join you someday in the future 🙂 Greeting from Taiwan! (By the way, we also have some nice mountains, welcome to my country!)
Hey! Wow that is ambitious! There are many mountains that are really difficult if you want to do the highest one in every country in the world. Expensive too. And some are off limits. But I wish you all the best!