Climbing Armenia's highest mountain!
On this day we have decided to climb, not more not less, Armenia's highest mountain - Aragats is a single peak and dormant volcano towering at 4090 meters above sea level.
There is a long and a short way of climbing Aragats. The long way involves a 3000m ascent from the town of Aparan and makes it for a very long day. The shorter way is starting from town of Artashat which is easily reachable by public bus from Yerevan in about an hour. The second step is to get a ride up to Cosmic Ray research station at about 3200 meters. We found a local taxi driver who agreed to take us there and wait for about $35 in his old Lada. It's about 40km up windy and beat up roads, so all in all is a good deal.
After about an hour and a half we were at the research station and agreed to be back at our taxi in about 5-6 hours.
We started to walk cheerfully up a slightly steep hill, just to stop in 2 minutes grasping for breath. At that point we realized that we flew up 3200m in a taxi, which put us straight into altitude sickness zone. This was the first time I really felt it, you don't feel tired or exhausted, you just feel suddenly weak.
After about an hour, you pass by a small pool of ice. That gets you thinking, we were doing it in September so it mush have survived the entire summer. The temperature on the top must drop way below zero at night. There are a few trails, but it's kind of obvious where to go.
After about 2,5 hours of slow determined walking we have reached the top. The scenery looked like surface of Mars or something from a post apocalyptic film.
After a mandatory photo-shoot we picked an alternative trail to come down along the ridge. We followed the trail half way, than it kind of disappeared and we simply followed the ridge. I guess we have missed the point where we had to decent of the ridge, so we had to climb down the rocks, and than walked for couple of hundred meters until we reached a trail taking us back to our taxi.
By 7 pm we were back at Yerevan for a warm shower and a cold beer!