fine specimen of a mountain bedecked for the occasion (though apparently
not uncommon) with a plume of snow that the roaring wind has plucked up
and molded into a cloud of purest white. When we got to the last village
our guide Farzhad organized a group of porters to help us to carry the first
shelter to an altitude of about 2900 m.
It has recently been converted to use as a Mosque, but skiers are very welcome. The trek there took only 45 minutes using seal skins and we were soon settling down for the night amidst the usual paraphernalia of sleeping bags, down-to-earth food, chats and disquisition s as to the finer points of mountaineering, and possible political connotations of telemarking before sinking into a deep sleep. Morning, sunrise, and an 8 o'clock for the bivouac at 4200m. The path led across scree, with the occasional dry-looking poppy and a wind that seemed to get stronger and stronger. Still we climbed across rocks and snow with the wind blowing ever harder. Our skis had been tied to our rucksacks to form a frame, and the wind had grown so strong as to make the climb very arduous, particularly at the end when you have to pick your way along a snow clad ridge. But we made it. The shelter is just a bivouac, cold and damp. We threw our sleeping bags down on the makeshift beds, ate a frugal meal and lay down to sleep. This was no easy task, when you have to keep taking sleeping tablets and painkillers to ease the headaches that appear to have beset the whole group.
Team: Piero Ruffino, Giorgio Daidola, Filippo "PIPPO" Iacoacci, Leonardo Bizzaro, Michele Fedrizzi. Iranian supporter: Farshad Kalili
After spending a noisy night (there is always wind on Mt. Damavand) we started the ascent again. After 2 hours, the skiable snow started to peter out. What the wind hadn't blown away had collected in gullies and compacted into rock-like formations that required the use of crampons. The rest of the 4 hour climb was over crumbly ground, and the altitude was beginning to show.
The descent, once we were able to put our skis on, was fantastic! While on the one hand the wind had scattered the snow from the final section, it had also helped it to accumulate in the intervening dips and in practice we were able to telemark down a total elevation difference of 2300m, right down to where we were to meet with the minibus (from 4000m to 2300m/asl). The ravines, rocky volcanic outcrops, the snow, and, of course, the wind are now just memories captured on slide, but the experience was wonderful.
The mountains in Iran are really big, and, who knows, maybe next year. I would recommend a trip to Iran. Take what you learn from the TV or the newspapers with a healthy dose of skepticism. There are many stereotypes uttered about Iran and it is time we debunked them. We had a great time there and we met some fine, warm people with a deep sense of friendship and hospitality. The cuisine is delicious and varied. The only piece of advice I would give is this: our ten days there shot by, it would be a good idea to allow at least 2 weeks so you can take advantage of the cultural and historical wealth in the South of the country as well. As ever, you should respect the culture, customs and traditions of the country visited so as to avoid unpleasant situations. But unless I'm very much mistaken, that is simply part of respect and good manners.
Thank you Piero!
Piero Ruffino (Copyright) For Telemark Demo Team '97
Descender Issue 4: