Click for Introduction to Central Alborz Mountains
Click for Introduction to Kholeno Massif
Click for a detailed map of Kholeno Massif
My GPS/Altimeter measured the elevation of this peak at 13770 ft (4197 m). The 4194 m figure is per the 1:50 000 map.
Yakhchal is one of the many 4000 meter plus peaks that form the Middle Wall of Central Alborz (see intro to Alborz Mountains above). To the west, Yakhchal is connected to the 4165 m Sarmahoo
and the 4234 m Kaman Kooh
Peaks and to the east, it is connected to the 4082 m Koheno Peak. Yakchal, along with Sarmahoo and Kaman Kooh form the walls of a glacially carved cirque that sits to the north of these mountains. This cirque houses a large snowfield/small glacier that sits at an elevation of 3700-3900 m. The glacier feeds a pond known as Kaman Kooh Lake.
Yakhchal and its nearby peaks are located in a remote portion of the Central Alborz Mountains. Climbing Yakhchal will generally require 2 or 3 days. On day one, you will hike from one of the nearby villages to Kaman Kooh Lake. Possible approaches are from the Varengeh Rood Village to the SW, Nessen Village to the NW or the Kalak Bala Village to the NE (see Routes). The most direct route is from the Nessen Village however I do not have any info about this route. On day two, you will climb Yakhchal (possibly along with Sarmahoo & Kaman Kooh) and then descend to the lake or go back to the village you started from. The very long and gently sloped northern ridgeline of Yakhchal can provide easy access to the summit block which starts at 4000 m. The northwestern slopes of Yakhchal form a sheer wall that is 150-200 m high and towers above the cirque. The wall can be avoided by veering to the east and tackling the summit from that direction. This will still involve some class III climbing.
The summit of Yakhchal will provide you with great views of much of the high peaks of Central Alborz. To the east, the 5671 m Mt. Damavand rises far above the surrounding mountains. To the northwest, the 4850 m Alam Kooh and the other high peaks of the Takhte Soleyman Massif appear as magical mountains that seem to float above the perpetually fog-filled Chalus River Valley. To the north, the giant summit of the nearby 4390 m Azad Kooh Peak creates a magnificent site. To the south, southeast and the east an endless array of 4000 m peaks the highest of which is the 4387 m Kholeno the Great will be in good view.
Directions to Varengeh Rood Village
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 70 Km till the junction of the road that goes to Dizin Ski Area (2250 m). Turn onto this road and follow it a few Km till you see a side road on the left that goes to Varengeh Rood Village (2325 m). Turn onto this road and follow it a few Km till the end of it at the village (2450 m).
Directions to Kalak Bala Village
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. This is a protected area. Hunting is prohibited.
When To Climb
Easiest in summer (mid June to early October). I personally like late June/early July when there is much snow on the mountains. The grass on the lower slopes is green and flowers are in bloom. Snow on higher slopes will obviously make the climb more difficult.
Winter climbing will obviously require special training/equipment.
In summer, the weather is generally clear. Isolated thunderstorms (sleet/snow at higher elevations) do occur.
If you have no experience in these mountains, you will benefit from the presence of a guide. I used Araz Adventure Tours
and was very satisfied. A search on the internet will reveal many others as well.