Dienstag, 10. September 2013

Day 77 to 81: The very north - Damavand

North of Teheran and in parallel to the Caspian sea shore lies the Alborz, which has several peaks over 4000m. One of the summits is Damavand, the highest mountain west of Hindukush (noteworthy, the old measurment was 5671m, by "conventional" methods. GPS says 5610 nowadays - and Russian Mt Elbrus has 5640. This is why you find no Iranian acknowledging GPS data, all will tell you the 5671 number, and of course the Iranian mountain being higher than the one in the Caucasus).

Beekeepers are very active in the mountains.

 We headed to Gosfandsara, a mosque at 3200m and above the small village of Reyneh, where the trecks usually start. Here you also have to pay the summit-fee of 50$ and you can rent a muli for the baggage.

Just when we arrived at the parking lot we met two Iranians on their mountain bikes coming down the hiking trail, and the trail indeed looked wonderful. So, the program was set for a first point.


Kalimero on the parking lot, with his new Mercedes-Irankhodro friend with multicolor LED lighting - and the next morning, under the impressive mountain.

Curious donkeys, mulis and horses.
trash burning at the parking lot.

We carried our bikes almost to the shelter at 4200m on the next day, it was incredibly exhausting but looking forward to the ride down almost took away our pain. We earned a lot of respect and „Mashallas“ from other hikers and had to think of all the bullshiting back in Oberbayern when you carry your bike on a hiking trail.
As we wisely deciced not to carry our bikes and sleeping bags and warm clothes and food for two days on our first day at this altitude, we walked down again, slept one night and started our two day treck the next day.


Our bikes were still where we parked them and we looked at the trail again and decided to leave them there. The trail further up was a bit too „technical“ for our taste, considering the altitude and the fact that we would need to ride it after getting up at 3am.

The old shelter, without heating, large windows, kitchen etc.

Arriving at the shelter, we unfortunatly had to sleep in the big dorm with about 80 beds. It was pretty crowded and people sat around chatting, cooking and talking on their phones until 10 pm (or maybe longer, but we finally managed to fall asleep then).

The huge dorm. The ceiling is at the same time another floor.
The not very well heated dining room and delicious spaghetti.

People sleeping in the dining room (the sleeping room was very noisy at that time, as people had dinner there). Iranian logics.

The "entry" tickets.

We got up at 3:30 am, took our head lights and went off. Most others who slept in the shelter did not move. It was cold when we started, but we (or maybe only Katha) were sure that it would be warmer as soon as the sun comes out.
The sun came out at about 6:30 but the temperature dropped and dropped. We fiercly needed a break and some food, but we expected to freeze as soon as we sat down. So we went on, living on power bars and almost frozen water. The sun only stayed with us for about 30 minutes, then thick clouds came in and it was windy and even colder (-2°C). Slowly we started to feel the altitude, our conversation grew slowlier and more rudimentary, the steps got smaller and smaller and breathing faster.

GOOOOOOD morning, warm sun! Finally, 10° more, at least as long as the clouds stay away.

A first important mark... we were to climb up about 200m more, but these were mostly NOT in the sun.

But (at least for Katha) the freezing cold was so overwhelming that she could not feel sick or tired. We went on for altogether 5 hours until we where at 5200m, then we gave up and skipped the last 400m, which we expected to take another 2 hours of freezing and bad sight. Walking down to the shelter was a matter of 1 ½ hours thanks to large gravelfields (sliiiiiiding down) and after a short nap we felt good enough for the best part of the tour – riding.

It was one of the best trails we ever rode, a perfect slope with technical starting and an ending more to the flowy side. We again met some people walking up among them a group of veterans, who earned our wordy respect.Walking up to the shelter was not so hard for us, but we had 1 full leg more than these guys, and our lungs were not damaged by Iraqi chemical weapons.

Notice the leg of the guy on the bike. He was the only Iranian we ever saw wearing shorts. Of course, he is not breaking the Iranian dressing laws, as you cannot see skin above the knee!

And another group of  Iranians.

We „earned“ ourselves a hot shower at the appartment of two Teheranis, but it was a long day so we stayed in Reyneh for the night. We already had some teas with Masud (the Muli guy) during the last few days and he told us that he had a guest house in Reyneh, so we found him in his little hut and asked him to show us his house. He called his wife to make dinner and got into our car. The guesthouse was perfect for us, roomy and clean, missing a bed we are used to in Europe but we were tired enough not to care for a matress. For dinner he asked us to come over to his family later – great! So far, everything perfect, we were happy to pay 20$ for the night, especially because we could also use the washing mashine. After a hot shower we went over to Masuds house, we were surprised - nicely  (considering iranian, not european taste) furnished and wealthily decorated. As usual in Iran we where seated and served tea and cookies, while the house wife made food and the children watched the overdimensional TV (as there is a huge exile Iranian population, e.g. in Los Angeles, there are TV shows in Farsi, but not from Iran – anchorwomen in western dresses and blond hair, talking about music and alcohol, etc. These shows are broadcoasted by satellite, and – honi soit – are meant not to be watched by Iranians under the strict rules of the religious regime, as they are not very halal).

Masud could speak english quite well (compared to what we witnessed in the last days – but ok, it's the enemy's language) and we had some conversation about him beeing a mountain tour guide and having his mulis. From time to time during the conversation Masud told us that friendly tourists gave him their equipment, a jacket, pants and some even wanted to know his address to send him something...and by the way, you don't need your jackets anymore, do you? And he also needs a watch with altimeter, he would like to buy Michi's.
When dinner was ready, we sat down around a table cloth, altogether 7 persons. The housewife brought our food and four plates, Masud, his brother's 5 year old daughter and we were invited to eat, while the others (his wife and two grown children) watched us. (hungrily?) We felt a bit awkward and offered the others some of the chicken. Hesitatingly they agreed, fetched some plates and ate some, the son-in-law coming later took the rest. As it was Iranian dinner time (we got up at 3.30...), we were understandibly tired and soon bid our farewell but first asked what we should pay for dinner....hmmm, nothing much, pay what you like, its OK..Iranian taroof at its best...(usually you can get a decent food for 250'000 rial, 25 tuman in a full restaurant).
As he did not want to tell us a price we offered him 200'000 rial, but now the business man was awake: „normally people pay 500'000!“ he said opening his hand and we payed. Then he told us that his coworker is coming soon to take a shower in our guest room but it will take only 10 minutes. OK, sure, why not....He came with us and sat down in our room waiting for his coworker.....after the night in the dorm room, getting up at 3:30, hiking 1200m up and 2000m down, we were really tired at 10pm and hoped to get this over with soon, but it took another 45 minutes until we finally found our rest. 

In the Guesthouse: space, warmth, internet.

Kalimero on the way down.

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