Aragats is the highest peak of modern Armenia, located about 40 km (25 mi) NNW of the country´s capital Yerevan.
The dormant stratovolcano covers an area of 200 km² (80 mi²), and has a 350 (1150 ft) deep crater. Out of the crater rim rise the four summits of Aragats:
North 4090 m/13419 ft
West 3995 m/13107 ft
East 3908 m/12822 ft
South 3879 m//12727 ft
The South Summit of Aragats is an easy walk, and climbed quite frequently. However, the weather can change rapidly even during the hot summers.
It is climbed from Kari Lake (3190 m). There are no set paths, but the summit is visible from Kari Lake. The climb takes about 3:30 (source: Bachmann and Tufenkian 2004, Adventure Armenia).
The North Summit is climbed more seldom, and demands somewhat greater abilities.
The climb starts at the village of the same name as the mountain, Aragats (1900 m). For strong hikers or ski tourers I recommend doing it in one day. It is a very long way (almost 2200 mts/7200 ft vertical), but doable and you can go so much lighter.
Otherwise the climb takes two days.
Armenia is generally a very mountainous country. Most of the country are located on the Armenian Plateau - 87% of the country are between 1000 and 3000 m (3300 and 10000 ft) high. Regions between 2000 and 3000 m (6600 and 10000 ft) make up 12.6 % of the country´s area.
Several peaks rise above 3000, such as Mt. Azhdahak (3597 m/11800 ft) on the Geghama mountain range, a volcanic plateau with several craters, or Armenia´s second (or fourth - depending whether one counts the east and west summit of Aragats as independent summits) highest peak, impressive Kaputjukh (3906 m/12815 ft), located in the SW-corner of Armenia, bordering to Azerbaijan´s isolated Nakhichevan region. Kaputjukh is unlike most other Armenian mountains of non-volcanic origin.
The easiest way to get to Kari Lake is taking a taxi from Yerevan, which also picks you up again. Have your host in Yerevan help you arranging everything, along with a fair price, if you do not speek Russian or Armenian.
there are 3 options:
1. Taxi from Yerevan to the village of Aragats (see above); easiest option, especially if you are unfamiliar with the country and the language
2. Take a mini bus ("marshrutka") from Yerevan to the city of Aparan, located east of Aragats. The bus to Tbilisi (Georgia) also passes through there.
There is no accomodation in Aparan, tourism is almost unheard of. We were lucky, and stayed with locals.
Given the generrous hospitiality of the Caucasian people you will probably be invited in somebody`s house for food and drinks and should be able to find a place to crash for the night if you ask around. From Aparan have a local drive you to Aragats and pick you up again.
However, this requires some language knowledge (Russian/Armenian) and some experience in travelling in the Caucasus.
If you have language problems and still want to chance it finding a place to stay in Aparan, here are two hints: There is a young US-American teacher volunteering there, his name is Chris. Ask around, people know him. He is nice and surely will help you out. Also there is a French school in Aparan. Some locals speak French.
In any case - if you wish to climb our ski tour around Aparan, please let me know, I can probably arrange things for you via friends in Aparan.
3. Take a mini bus or bus to Aparan and start hiking - this route is much longer than from Aparan, and involves some strenght-consuming up and downs
Maps open up in new window (note: I am in no way resposible for the content of the following websites)
More detailed, but in Kyrillic letters (If you need translations, let me know):
Soviet 1:100 000 Map
The map on the following side is not very detailed but gives a good overview:
Topographic map of Aragats (1:250,000 scale) from DMA Map NK 38-11 Yerevan
There are no official red tapes. However, this region is not used to tourism and a few things should be considered:
1. Be aware that the mountains in this region are very pristine, and that the nature in the Armenian highlands is wild. We encountered plenty of wolf tracks in the mountains, and bears also exist.
2. As said, the region is pristine. Leave it like that. Take out what you take in, and be respectful to the nature
3. Aparan and Aragats are not used to tourist and climbers. The people are incredible friendly and also curious.
Please threat them with respect and learn about their customs and culture before you go there. Learn a few phrases Armenian. Read about the history of the country , it helps you to understand the mentality of the Armenian people.
The Russian Government has during their long-lasting attempt to break resistance in the Caucasus regions successfully planted a wrong picture of the Caucasian people in our heads and it takes a while to get the real picture
Ski touring: all winter and spring, but the following two periods seem to be best:
1. December to February - stable weather but very cold (this is continental climate!)
2. from April on - warmer, and the snow line generally still reaches to the base of the peak. March seems to bring lots of precipitation
Summer months July until September; snow might cover the summit regions almost all year around, keep that in mind
Camping is allowed anywhere on the mountain.
SP User Spellbinder added:
As for summer 2007, camping by the Kari Lake is payable. The fee is 1000 AMD (~3 USD)per tent per night and is collected by the staff of former meteo-station. It includes litter removal.
I recommend to contact Wishup Adventures in Yerevan