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To The Summit
Van - Dogubayazit
Day 1 - Towards 3200m
Day 2 - Acclimatization
Day 3 - Towards 4200m
Day 4 - Summit Day
Issues & Thoughts

Day 4 - Summit Day

26 August 2005, 2:00 AM, -2 celcius. I kept looking at my watch all night and I know I haven't slept. I can't stay in my sleeping bag any more. I hear voices from outside, and I realize the people are starting to get ready. We get out of our tent. I stand up and I am not feeling 100%, which makes me upset. I can see my brother not doing well at all. We start wearing our gear and getting ready. The darkness around us is overwhelming and we do everything with our head lights on. The scene is very surreal. As people are gathering around the starting point, wearing all of their gear, looking at their head lights, the darkness around me, the rough rocks, it seems that I am on the moon. 3:00 AM. We get lined up and the climb starts. The first hour is not comfortable. I start getting cramps in my stomach. My brother is not climbing very steady either. He is right in front of me and I can see every one of his steps. Every now and then we can hear someone shooting the altitude. I can't believe that we are still at the start.


At some point I turn my head to see the rest of the team. All I can see in the absolute darkness is a line made out of their head lights. At 4:00 AM we take a break. Thank God for that. In a very strange way after the break my stomach cramps stop. I look at my brother and I get very concerned. Our leader decides to tie him up from their waists. I can't believe that he has the determination to climb. What he is doing is heroic. That gives me more strength. Since I have space in my rack sack I get half of his stuff, another member of the team gets the other half. This way, he will be lighter. The first light of dawn is out. We can now see better. The climb is still over volcanic terrain and loose scree. The slope is steeper now and more demanding. I start to develop a headache again. This time I do not care about it and I remember what my Armenian friend told me. "Just keep going up." And that's exactly what I will do.


6:00 AM, 4700m The sun is rising, and the view is unbelievable. I have never seen anything like this. A colossal shadow covers the Ararat valley. It is a perfect pyramid, and the rays of the sun are noticeable on its peak. This is the shadow of Mount Ararat as the sun comes up from its back. We have been climbing for 3 hours and we have coverd 500m from base camp 2. We are moving at a slow pace. My brother still tied to our leader. We check on our conditions. Most of us seem exhausted. Strangely enough I am getting better and my excitement is over the top. After each break I feel that I am able to run up. But that's not possible.


7:20 AM, 4900m, -2 Celsius. We reach the start of the glacier where we stop. It's time to put our crampons on and use the ice axe. Everyone is feeling a bit uncomfortable, but we are so close to our target. We need to cross the final glacier and then to the summit. Climbing up the glacier is not hard. The incline of the slope is not steep up here, which makes it easy to walk.


8:20 AM @ The Summit 5137m the first members of the team reached the peak at 5137m! The weather is excellent and the sun is shining. The clouds underneath us opened up and the Armenian flag is over the top of world! Feelings and thoughts are mixed. The dream of a lifetime comes true. A dream not only ours, but of generations of Armenians who have struggled to maintain our identity, and have provided us with the courage and inspiration to embark on this difficult task.


Flags are unfolding, the Greek and the Armenian. Some of us have tiers on our frozen faces in the memory of our great grand fathers. The fatigue and the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness are severe. The pain from physical stress is great. However, all those go away for the 15 minutes that we stand on the summit. We jump and we hug each other. We let out voices of joy so that Armenians all over the world can hear us. I hope they do. I wish everyone that I know is up here. My parents, my relatives, my good and dearest friends, all Armenians.


The team from EOS Aharnon. 15 of us are standing on the highest point of the Mountain. The summit of Great Ararat! The guide is watching us and I think that he feels exited that we are up there. Hagop my brother, Garo our dearest friend, and me we hug each other and we gather under our great flag. The flag that should be on Ararat permenently! My joy is even greater as I realize that I still have power in me and I could go higher up if there was more. It's a great feeling to know that you have reached our target and you still have abilities to do more.


The celebrations on the summit are brief as we need to make our way down. We can't stay at the summit for long. As we know the weather might change any minute up here. So we start our descent. A task that I hadn't thought about too much. We take it easy, and we are very careful as the descent is proving to be even more demanding than the ascent. This achievement would not mean a lot if we can't make it back safely. Soon my knees start to hurt and I am in pain. We take frequent breaks, but I see that the weather is closing up. I get worried specially since we are left far behind and the guide is not with us. I am leading the team of three Armenians and I feel responsible to find the easiest path possible. However, Ararat is in me. I can find the path with no problems. 11:30 AM. We are on schedule, and we arrive at base camp 2 @ 4200m. So far we have been on foot for 8,5 hours. We pack and gather our stuff from that camp site and we get ready to continue our descent.


We descent towards 3200m in 1,36 hours. Every one is exhausted. Me including. We take a 20 min break. I sleep on the spot. But we have decided to go all the way down and return to the hotel. I am thinking if my knees will make it. We walk another 2,5 hours down to 2500m where our truck was waiting. We have been on foot for 12 hours! The Kurdish villagers offer us watermelon. I am wondering where they got this up here. But I do not ask. I just eat it! We get in the truck and we drive back to the hotel. We drive away from the mountain but I am still on the summit. I think that even Ararat wants us up there. It's a great achievement, a great victory ... physical, mental, emotional, and political!

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