Click for Introduction to Central Alborz Mountains
Click for Introduction to Kholeno Massif
Click for a map of Azad Kooh & Kholeno Massif
My GPS altimeter measured the elevation of this mountain at 14360 ft (4377 m). The 4390 m figure is per the 1:50 000 map.
The beautiful Persian princess, the symbol of freedom!
Azad Kooh (translate as “Free Mountain”) is a giant rocky summit that rises to the south of the Noor River Valley in the Central Alborz Mountains of northern Iran. The eastern, northern and western slopes of the summit of Azad Kooh are made of steep rock/walls that are more than 500 m tall. Unlike the rest of the high peaks of Central Alborz that are “bound” by high ridgelines that connect them to other peaks, Azad Kooh
is a ‘free” peak that is completely surrounded by deep valleys on all sides (except for the 3800 m Chooren Pass to the southeast of it that connects it to other mountains), The prominence of this peak makes it appear as a mini version of the absolute king of the Central Alborz, the 5671 m Mt. Damavand that rises far above everything else. This has earned Azad Kooh the nickname “Shazdeh” (prince/princess). When viewed from the flower-filled meadows around the village of Minak at the bottom of the Noor River Valley (2390 m), Azad Kooh appears as a majestic peak that guards the surrounding areas. Although the upper portions of the Noor River Valley do contain a few villages, the area remains fairly isolated and is sparsely populated. Therefore, Azad Kooh remains hidden from the view of most people including the millions of the residents of Tehran that travel to the Caspian Sea resorts every year via the nearby Karaj-Chalus Rd. The mountain is, however, well known to the climbing community and sees a fair amount of traffic.
The only viable route for climbing Azad Kooh is via its southern slopes. The traditional starting spot is the picturesque village of Kalak Bala (2650 m) which sits by one of the branches of the Noor River. From there, you will hike up beautiful meadows at the base of the rocky walls of Azad Kooh to reach the 3800 m Chooren Pass where you will gain access to the steep gravel covered southern slopes. The summit is made of two spires with the same elevation. The eastern one is easier to climb. From the summit of Azad Kooh, you will have panoramic views of the Central Alborz Mountains, from the 5671m Mt. Damavand in the eastern horizon, to the 4850 m Alam Kooh Peak in the western horizon.
> Views From the Summit
We were on the summit around 6 pm. Much of the views were lost to the haze of the evening/glare of the sun. If you have good summit photos of the views to the west & north, please add them and I will try to attach them here.
Zoomed Views From the Summit
Click to see large panoramic view
From downtown Tehran drive the Tehran-Karaj Freeway 40 Km west to the town of Karaj and take the Chalus Road exit. Drive the Chalus Road up the mountains roughly 95 Km past the Kandovan Tunnel (2700 m) to a place known as Poleh Zangooleh (2350 m) where you will see a side road to the right (east). This is known as the Yoosh-Baladeh Road. Follow this road 30 Km east first up the Tarkeh Bashm Pass (2800 m) and then Labashm Pass (3170 m) to the village of Minak (2390 m). Turn south onto a dirt road (passable by most/any car) and follow it a few Km to the end of it at Kalak Bala Village (2650 m)
No fees/permits required.
When To Climb
Easiest in summer
In summer, the weather is generally clear. Isolated thunderstorms (sleet/snow at higher elevations) do occur.
If you are not familiar with these mountains, you will benefit from the presence of a guide. I used Araz Adventure Tours
and was very satisfied with their services.