“Congratulations! You have successfully reached the summit. Great job! Please take the pictures ASAP cause the weather is getting harsh, and we should descend…”
In the Alibabatrek’s Office
I was sitting in the Alibabatrek’s office waiting to meet my new team. The new team consists of 2 German guys and 2 French who wanted to summit mount Damavand.
They were a few minutes late. So, I picked my notebook and started writing the schedule of climbing to the summit. It included the things I should do, the foods and snacks I should buy and the planning for reaching the peak. But then I decided to wait for tourmates to complete my information. Because my experiences have shown me I should be aware of the food habits of my tourmates. I should also know about their physical readiness and write them down in my notebook.
When The Guests Arrived
The doorbell rang; it was the guests. After having tea and cake and some short talks in the conference room, we started discussing the technical tips for climbing. After looking at their body styles and hearing their questions, I got that we won’t have any problems for physical readiness. The only thing that I wasn’t sure about was acclimatization. Well, it has its special techniques. I asked them about the highest height they have ever reached and when it was. The reason I asked them these questions was to arrange a better plan for their acclimatization. I showed them a report plus some photos and videos of Damavand. We also checked out the climbing route together. Then, we checked the weather forecasts for the upcoming days in the mountain and shared all our information.
Then, it was time for checking the equipment and clothes. This way we understood if it was necessary to buy anything. They needed a pair of gloves and a sleeping bag due to the cold weather and climbing season. So, we prepared the things they needed for them. There wasn’t any particular problem with their food habits.
We chose the southern route for our four-day climbing plan.
Going to Rineh Village
After having a cup of tea in the office, we were on our way to Rineh village near mount Damavand. It takes 2-3 hours from Tehran to Rineh. After arriving at Rineh, we went to a local house which had an amiable atmosphere. I had been in this house a few times before. The owners of the house were a loving family. Reception of the guests had turned into their job.
Near sunset, we went for a walk in the village so that our guests would get to know more of there. We came back to the local house for dinner. They had prepared a traditional meal for us. What a Ghormeh Sabzi! After having dinner, we sat in the yard and chatted while drinking tea and coffee. We also reviewed our climbing plan. Of course, I always act in a way that makes them relaxed and takes the stress away from them.
Climbing to The Peak
We got up and had breakfast in the morning. Then, we had free time till lunch. So, I told my team that they could have a walk in the village or do other personal stuff. The lunch was very delicious Iranian food, and we enjoyed it very much. We usually care a lot about choosing food that our guests would enjoy. After having lunch, we started going to the camp. In this part, we should get on a jeep. It’s a safe road but has so many bumps and is very shaky!
After reaching the camp, we went to our room (which we had reserved before) and put our stuff there. Then I gathered the team and explained some points for them to make them ready for light hiking and acclimatization. It can be beneficial because I can test my team’s abilities. The acclimatization took 4-5 hours and then we came back to the camp. After having dinner, I told my team that they should rest because next morning we will go to the next camp.
We were lucky that the sky was clear and we could see the beautiful sky again. I started looking for the constellations and checking the directions. Doing this is always enjoyable for me, and I wished I could be an astronomer. I do this almost every night that the sky is clear in the mountains.
I woke up a bit earlier than the others in the morning to pack the stuff and deliver them to the porters. Then I made breakfast. As always, I had to argue with the porters. I don’t know why this always happens, and all the guides have this problem with them.
Finally, we started climbing! We can see so many interesting stones and cliffs on our way. I can have fun with them a bit! As a tour leader that has to passes from this path frequently, I have found my hobbies. One of them is these stones that look like animals in specific views. Some of them look in a way as if they are looking at you.
We will stop in some places for resting a bit and having snacks. Finally, we will reach the last slope, and the camp appears. After entering the camp, I will show the rooms to the team and give them a short time for resting. Then, I call them over for having lunch. We will go for acclimatization again 2-3 hours after lunch. After coming back, I will prepare dinner and then send the team to their rooms. So they can rest well for next day climbings. Before they go to sleep, I will ask them about how they are. I will immediately take the necessary measures if there is any problem. Typically, nothing significant happens. Except, the body of some of the hikers needs more time for getting adapted to the height.
At the end of the night, I will chat with some of my friends who are mount leaders in other companies. We usually review our memories.
The Sulfur Smoke
I get enthusiastic on the days we are going to reach the summit. The thought that I’m some other person’s guide makes me a bit sleepless. In the morning, I woke up earlier than the others and make breakfast. I will wake anyone who still sleeps so we won’t be late. We will have the last talks before getting to the summit, and then we start going. If we are lucky enough we can see a wild goat flock upper than our camp. I have seen them a few times before and have taken some pictures of them.
The frozen fountain on our way is the sign that shows we have climbed half of the way. From this point on, everything starts looking a bit different. The shape of glaciers looks like sawtooth; the hills are sulfuric and yellow. And you can smell the sulfur. All these show that Damavand is more than just a regular mount. Near the summit, if the wind blows to our path, we will face the sulfur smoke which can be hurtful. In a few meters to the summit, we can see Damavand’s caldera.” Congratulations! You have reached the summit! Great job!”. These are the sentences I tell my team when they reach the summit. After taking so many photos, we will start going back.