PLEASE DO NOT VOTE. THIS IS JUST A TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR OTHER TRIP REPORTS.
This is a 6 part report about our 7 day climbing trip to an area in the eastern parts of the Central Alborz Mountains of northern Iran where the highest peak is the 4338 m (14232 ft) West Dokhaharan Peak.
PART III, THURSDAY JUNE 15, 2006 (To be done)
Climb Chapakro Peak 4260 m, Climb East Dokhaharan Peak 4310 m
PART IV, FRIDAY JUNE 16, 2006 (To be done)
Move camp to 3790 m saddle at the base of Shekar Leghas Peak
PART V, SATURDAY JUNE 17, 2006 (To be done)
Climb Haft Saran Peak 4007 m, Climb Takhte Khers Peak 4178 m
PART VI, SUNDAY JUNE 18, & MONDAY JUNE 19, 2006 (To be done)
Climb Shekar Leghas Peak 4278 m, descend into Yalrood River Valley, O/N camp near Hatar Village, hike to Hatar Village 2350 m and drive back to Tehran
Total Hiking Distance: 75 Km (46.6 miles)
My acquaintance with Salim, my Jewish Iranian mountain guide, was quite accidental. We have become good friends although I am an atheist and he is a very devout Jew. After the 1979 revolution in Iran, Salim had immigrated to Israel but he missed the mountains so much that he moved back to Iran (apparently not the first Jewish Iranian to do so). Anyone who loves the mountains that much is certainly a friend of mine.
I had left Iran for the United States in 1983 when I was only 18 years old. As a teenager, I always wanted to climb the peaks of the Alborz Mountain Range but had only had the opportunity to hike up the slopes of Mt. Tochal (3964 m, 13005 ft) which rises directly above the city of Tehran. I spent the next 21 years dreaming of going to Iran to explore its magnificent mountains. The dream finally came true in 2004 when I went for an 8 day tour of Alam Kooh (4850 m, 15912 ft) and the high peaks of the Takhte Soleyman Massif. Having been away for so long, I wondered about the state of mountain climbing in Iran. I was very pleased to discover a vibrant climbing community. All of the guides that I worked with during the next few years turned out to be well trained and government licensed climbers some of whom had had experience in the Himalayas.
I met Salim in 2005. When planning the trip with my tour company they had designated a different guide who was in Nepal at that time coordinating the efforts of the first group of Iranian woman on Mt. Everest. It soon became apparent that he would not make it back to Iran in time for my trip. The tour company designated a second guide. He, however, injured his knee just a few days before my trip, so I started with a third guide. After a couple of days in the mountains, they contacted my guide via his cell phone telling him that his wife had been in a climbing accident. She was ok herself but apparently a man had fallen to his death right in front of her and she was obviously in a state of shock. That was when Salim was sent to the mountains to find us and relieve the other guide.
From the very beginning, it became obvious that Salim was very religious. Before having our first supper together, he said he had to do his prayers (At that point I was thinking that I had come across a devout Muslim. No one else that I had worked with in Iran had been religious). I saw that he rinsed his hands with water, pulled a small book that seemed to contain Hebrew writings out of his backpack, sat on the ground and began to read the book--whispering it quietly while slowly rocking his upper body back and forth. He then touched a piece of bread, whispered a few other things and was then ready for supper. I soon learned that when it was time, prayers had to be done no matter where we were: on top of a mountain, in a taxi, in a restaurant…These rituals were usually a novel curiosity to me, though sometimes tested my patience, particularly when precious time was not spent in pursuit of mountains. I often recall how upset (but at the same time humored) I became when we were on top of a mountain and he used my last bit of clean water to rinse his hands before his prayers. I should also mention that except for Tuna Fish, he only ate kosher meat (which is available at special stores in Iran but is not used in the restaurants or in preserved foods). A few days into our trip I noticed that while my previous guides had fed me delicious preserved Persian cuisine, we were having Tuna Fish for lunch and only vegetable soup for dinner every day (plus assorted breakfast and snack items). This was hardly enough calories to replenish the thousands of calories we expended each day. For the 2006 trip, he agreed to separate my food from his.
"When choosing between two evils, I always like to choose the one I haven't tried before."