Mehrchal, July 7I may be wrong but I think among all the capital cities in the world Tehran is the only one (with 12 million people) where you can do ice climbing in the middle of summer. It takes you only half an hour of driving (20 miles) and 15 minutes of hiking to get to the ice wall.
I was in Tehran from June 19th till July 12th, and I went to a couple of mountains. One of them was Mehrchal (3921m). Mehrchal massif includes several peaks with 8 of them higher than 3500m. There are lots of scenic routes and spectacular areas in this region. One of them is Hassandar canyon. This spectacular canyon with impressive rock-walls is one of the most avalanche-prone areas in the whole region.
In one area in this canyon the thickness of ice/snow can reach more than 20 meters. This is where people can do ice climbing.
The interesting thing is that it takes only about 15 minutes from where you park your car to get to the ice wall. This area is one of the places where the members of the ice climbing teams in Iran do practice in summer time.
Unfortunately, this year (2010) Tehran had a very dry winter with very low precipitation and not many avalanches. On top of that the unprecedented high temperature (above 100 for 4 weeks in a row in Tehran) caused the snowfields to be much smaller than those in the normal years.
There are also a couple of nice waterfalls in this canyon.
I made some plans to go to Mehrchal with 2 friends On July 7. There are several routes going to Mt. Mehrchal. We took the one starting from the village of Zagoon (zaygan). To make the trip more comfortable my friends brought along a donkey. They filled the donkey’s pack saddle with food. The donkey was an interesting one. He had some mental problems, so that apparently a while back he bit a dog (a German shepherd one) on the back and killed him. In another incident he attacked another donkey passing through the river in Zagoon, and tried to drown him!!! However, he was nice with the human beings.
We started the hike at around 6:00AM. First we had to hike up the Hessarak canyon. At the beginning the slopes were gentle. However, they gradually became very steep. On the way there was a farm breeding ostriches.
On the way up the views are very nice.
After about one and a half hour we reached a spring called bacheh-owak. We decided to have breakfast next to the spring. The view was spectacular.
After about an hour we continued our way towards Mt. Mehrchal. We had to pass Mt. Molarsam (3200m), Mt. Bozghaleh-chal (3550m) and Mt. Pirzankoloom (3850m) before we get to Mt. Mehrchal (3921m). The weather was unusually warm, and everytime we got close to any snow field the shepherd dogs laid down on the snow to let the heat escape from their body. The temperature in Tehran was 108 on that day.
After about half an hour we reached Molarsam peak. I spent some time to take some pictures, then we continued towards Bozghale-chal.
After about half an hour we were on top of Bozghaleh-chal. It took another half an hour to go from Bozghaleh-chal to Pirzankoloom. The vegetation in this area was diverse but the most important plant was thyme which is very expensive. You could find plenty of them in this area. We decided to pick some on the way back.
Unfortunately, the weather was hazy and the view was not very clear.
After spending some time on Pirzankoloon, we decided to go to Mehrchal, and have our lunch on the way back on Pirzankoloom. We left the donkey on Pirzankoloom and started the last part of our hike towards Mehrchal. It was surprising that in the whole trip we didn't see anybody in the mountain except a shepherd near Bacheh-owak spring. Again, after about half an hour we were on top of Mehrchal.
We spent some time on Mehrchal summit enjoying the views and taking pictures. The weather was very hazy so that after 1:00PM Damavand was totally invisible. At around 2:00PM we were back on top of Pirzankoloom having lunch. We picked some thyme on our way back to Bozghaleh-chal.
We had our last stop again next to Bacheh-owak spring making tea and chatting about the trip. We were back in Zagoon at around 6:00PM.
Getting thereThere are several ways to go to Mehrchal. The most popular way is going from the village of Emameh. Another way is to take the route from the village of Garmabdar. We took the route from the village of Zagoon. To get there, from NE of Tehran take the Lashgarak road and go towards Fasham. From Fasham square take the road to your right going to Zagoon. After about 6Km you will be in Zagoon. Park your car there, and start your hike from Hessarak canyon.
To go to Hassandar, about 1Km before Zagoon to your right you can see Hassandar canyon.