Winter climbing up to the mountain Azhdahak (24-26.02.2017)

The mountain Azhdahak is in the central part of the Geghama mountains and it’s highest summit is  3597,3 m.  It is an extinct volcanic cone, it has a crater  with the depth of 50 m and with the diameter of 500 m, the bottom of  which is filled with water.  It is distinguished by its noble beauty, every time making new impressions and giving  way to new  emotions Azhdahak is one of those mountains that decides to allow not only to reach its mountain peak  or not but also to approach it or not. The position of a mountain makes difficult its accessibility this way making it to be more attractive and in winter…  

            The idea to undertake climbing up winter Azhdahak turned into activities. We have had an experience to walk in Geghama mountains and it helped us correctlyto plan the climbing.  One thing was clеar,  at least two overnights were necessary.

            On the 24th of February, in morning twilight we were in mountainous mood,  the rucksacks  were ready, we were inspired and our intentions were serious. At 09:00 we began walking from the village Sevaberd. From the very beginning we knew that it would not be easy and the main obstacle be the snow. It was right but the snow was more than we had expected.  We were walking and were substituting the person leading the group, sometimes sinking up to the waist. The way from Sevaberd to Azhdahak in general is interesting because when walking, no peak is noticed for a long time. And when you reach Geghama escarpment, a number of volcanic cone mountains immediately appear before you; Karhank, Geghmaghan, Shamprasar, Aknasar, Aghusar, Oriental and Occidental Aghusars, Ltshasars and other cones. In case there was no snow we would cover that part in 3-3,5 hours, and in winter we passed it in 7 hours 30 minutes. But it was the described landscape that made us forget the difficulty of the route. Completely white and boundless Geghama was seen in the blue sky, all the peaks  were seen clearly but Azhdahak little by little was opened to us according to its character. Very beautiful clouds closed the peak of Azhdahak and only the cut cone was seen, with the part that was lying below the crater but not the peak. Under the influence of the opened view and with the accompaniment of the sounds of our walks we walked another hour and a half. One thing should be taken into account. The temperature in Geghama goes down drastically that is why we began to put the tents quickly and during that period Azhdahak was ready to appear before us.  Geghama mountain range and Azhdahak from white turned to orange, the clouds disappeared opening the whole beauty of the mountain.  

            During the supper we decided to begin climbing at 5:00 in the morning and it meant that we had to go to bed early, to recover the forces and to dispose ourselves to the next phase of “swimming in the snow”. On the first day we walked 9 hours, we covered the distance of 8 km and the height of 1000 m. The night was silent, it was not windy and the weather temperature was – 16 C0… - 18 C0

            On the 25th of February, a little later than it was planned before, at 05:20 we began to walk up Azhdahak. We had to walk two hours in darkness. The siluette of Azhdahak was seen in the darkness,  it couldn’t be taken for the peaks of other mountains so it was a kind of guiding point for us and the darkness did not mislead us in our way. Bright stars in the sky and below the crystals of snow lit from the light of the lamps were accompanying us. At 07:10 the horizon began to change the colours. The sky merged into the white snow of Geghama mountains from dark blue gradually changing into rosy and orange, enhancing our footprints on the snow. The view was wonderful…    

            The Sun rose and with its rays it seemed as if it had thrown diamonds on the snow, when the whole escarpment was brilliant, so it was already impossible to walk without glasses. The Northern slopes of Azhdahak and the peaks were not covered with much snow which meant that it had been windy and probably at that moment it was windy there. Step by step we were convinced that the climbing up would be a success. At 12:02 we were on the peak. For the first time we walked up Azhdahak in winter, we were happy, satisfied by ourselves and impressed by the views. The water in the crater was completely frozen, cold wind did not allow staying without gloves for a long time but we wanted to make photos. Completely frozen lake Sevan, mountain ranges covered with snow, Geghama cones, Hatis that was seen one after the other in a line, Ara mountain and Aragats and the most important one Ararat…

            The view was impressive, happiness is a fantastic feeling but it was cold and we could not stay on the peak for a long time. At 12:30 we began to descend. The way back was much more easier due to simple reasons but not in case of this route. Before reaching Azhdahak we  climbed up and  there were also descends as it was not possible another way and on the way back there were also some ascends. Summing up, at 17:55 we were already at the tents. If it were very necessary to go back to the city, we could climb down that day but we decided to act within the frames of the reasonable; to have a rest, to stay overnight and to take the road on the next day. There was another reason that we wanted to stay in Geghama, the promised soup with rice. It was worth to cover this road for the second time. On the second day we walked 11 hours 2 minutes / 6 hours 42 minutes when climbing up and 20 minutes walking down on the way back/, 15 km distance /7,5 km was the way and 7.5 km the way back / and 650m absolute altitude. This night it was colder  -17C0 …– 20 C0.    

            Succeeded ascend, good friends on the way, interesting, extreme and “non convenient” moments that you did not reveal yourselves,  in harmony with nature and good mood and after all this we can go back home. 

 We have frequently had one days  climbing up, they are incomparable with the experience and the feelings we get during the ascend with overnight. Just that time you reveal the limit of   your resistance and that of  your team members, the wish to help, being a good team player or being egocentric, evaluate human characteristic features. Mountains help to reveal not only ourselves but also the people with whom we set on the way. For example, it's night and cold but you have to sleep and you cannot fall asleep when you haven't checked whether the other team member feels cold or not, whether he or she feels comfortable and if there is a problem, you try to help and not to lye on your back and sleep. The ascends with overnights allow to understand completely the severity of the mountainous nature.   


 On the 26th of February, in the morning Geghama mountains were in fog, Azhdahak once again was covered by clouds. Seeing the weather of this morning  involuntarily you thank of the mountainous nature as it allowed you to get your objective the previous day; the peak of Azhdahak.

 At 10:20 we began to walk  in the direction of Sevaberd and this time our steps were firm as we had the thought that the driver of the car waiting for us downstairs had brought sparkling drinks. It's right that  we did not feel bad drinking melted snow but the organism and our sub-consciousness told us what to do. At 13:30 the sparkling drinks were already in our hands and we were happy and full.  We covered the distance from the place of installed tents up to Sevaberd 8 kms in 3 hours 10 minutes.

Summing up the three days we have the following result;  in order to pass the route Sevaberd- Azhdahak-Sevaberd we walked 24 hours 12 minutes, passed the distance of 31 km and overcome the  height of 1650 m.

 The members of the team were Levon Movsisyan, Anzhela Tshagharyan, Eduard Sargsyan, Shushan Rubenyan, Narine Tshagharyan.  2 dogs were added to the team in Sevaberd  who were with us all the time, including on the peak and they got the names Jupiter and Venera. On the 25.02.2017 the following persons were on the peak of Azhdahak; Levon Movsisyan, Ariga Arakelyan,  Shushan Rubenyan and me - Narine Tshagharyan.