Tuesday, June 06, 2006

trek at alborz range, iran

It was a dream, nothing less! To trek in Iran… I thought of it since the day I came to know that I’ll be going to Iran. And the otherwise-just-daydreamer-me worked towards making it a reality too. As a result of it, soon I had a meeting with Mohammed, a professional mountaineering guide, who runs an outdoor adventure organization called MountainZone. He proposed a plan to climb Mt. Kholeno (4375 ms.) in Alborz range.

After meeting Mohammed I got to know that I was not prepared for this event as I didn’t have any equipment, we were to go to snow-zone, I hardly had any warm clothing to beat the cold up there.. but Mohammed readily offered help. So with his encouraging words, there I was, set to go. Had a bit of hard time at getting off for a day; as here at MTN Irancell we only one and a half day weekend, but it was okay (I didn’t bother much about what the boss is gonna think of me) I marked my calendar on 18th n 19th May, n enthusiastically waited for the d-day.

On that Thursday, early in the morning Mohammed n co was at my place to pick me up. What followed was quick round of introduction n Iranian style of greeting with Mohammed’s wife Arezoo n his young friend Nezam. The name Arezoo means ‘wish’ in Farsi, which is similar to Urdu word ‘arzoo’. Nezam, cute, lovable boy, was happy to know that there is a dynasty of kings in India by his name.

The 2 hours ride was good as I was going out of Tehran for the first time. Adding to the excitement was Mohammed’s bits of info about the places n the peaks which were in the view. We reached Laalu village, which was the starting point of our trek. My search for cows in the village went in vain; all I cud find was some sheep. Apparently there are no cows in this part of Tehran province; dairy products come from some far-off place. We started walking after packing our backpacks, n soon reached a place where there was a stream, which was our breakfast point. After having Barbari (a type of Iranian bread) with honey, cheese, n butter and washing it down with tea, we set off.

We kept walking alongside the stream for some time. Then we had to cross the stream, using a thin wooden plank as a bridge. If that didn’t sound adventurous, we crossed the stream again, this time got into the waters n got ourselves wet to cross it. Though it was a small stream, the current was forceful n the water was bitterly cold, which made my legs go numb…

Again we kept walking alongside the stream, but the steepness of climb kept increasing. I was getting tired n had to rest once in a while. But I kept moving, the beauty of the surroundings driving me for more!! The stream, snow-covered mountains, thin patches of grass, wild flowers of many colors – white, yellow, n lavender… it was paradise!

After sometime, there were patches of ice, which we had to cross. It as very slippery to walk on them, n I didn’t have proper shoes. But Mohammed came to rescue; n taught me how to walk on ice. I literally followed his steps, as he wore mountaineering boots n it wud make a deep impression on ice, where i cud safely walk. Even then I kept sliding n had few falls, but Nezam was walking beside me n didn’t let me make big slides down. As we kept moving up there was more ice-climbing, n I started enjoying it. The feeling of ice getting crushed under my feet somehow excited me.

We were set to reach our lunch point, where there was a waterfall. But by the time we reached there, weather started turning bad, with thunders n drizzles. And I was very tired to walk further; I felt very sleepy n dizzy as I sat there. I felt fine only after I had a cup of coffee. By that time, Mohammed had decided that it’s better if we camp there as it getting very windy, stormy, n it was raining. Quickly they dug some ice, n pitched our tents. Though I wanted to help them I couldn’t, as I was very cold n exhausted.

They were soon done with 2 tents, we piled our backpacks in one n piled ourselves in another. They took out a tiny gas stove, n Mohammed started making soup. All four of us were sitting round the stove hoping that we will feel warm; n it was time for some conversation n some snacks. We talked about India n Iran; me n Nezam did most of the talking, with bits of info by Mohammed about the political scenario of Iran. I asked Nezam about his life n career plans, as he is an engineering student. The boy flashed a shy smile showing his dimples n blushed when I asked him whether he has girlfriend, n said no. I asked him what he feels about the dress-code imposed upon ladies in Iran, he said he doesn’t know how it feels as he hasn’t experienced it but said it’s very bad. Then I asked him one question I so much wanted to ask someone in Iran, ‘what will happen if ALL the women in Iran decide n break the dress-code one day?’, n Nezam jus laughed the question away.

By this time soup was getting ready, but I got to know that it was chicken soup! As I was very feeling cold, n so much wanted some hot liquid, I as said I’ll ‘taste’ it. Mohammed said that it wont be chicken though it’s mentioned so in the packet, to make me feel good. When the soup got ready, I did taste it, it tasted like any other soup. Now Mohammed started cooking rice for dinner, n we started talking about India. There were lots of questions from Nezam, n it was my turn to answer. Another subject which was of common interest was the Himalayas. I also shared my trekking experiences in Karnataka, n told them about trekking in jungles n the fun of encountering elephants.

After dinner of rice n canned vegetables, we were done for the day n crawled into our sleeping bags. Throughout the night it as raining, n was very cold; I cud catch very little sleep. The bad weather reminded me of the book Into Thin Air.

Next morning we were to leave early for the summit at 5.30 as per Mohammed’s plans; but none of us were good enough to follow his orders. He didn’t stress on it too much as it was very cold. So we left at around 8.45 a.m., after packing our tents n hiding our bags behind the rocks. We just took smaller backpacks with some food. The destination was another 1000 ms. high, the climb was very steep n the trail was very tough for me. It was sliding mud n stones all the way. After climbing for 2 hrs, I was exhausted n was taking rest every few steps. We were supposed to reach a pass, from where the peak was 375 ms. away. But no matter however hard I tried, I couldn’t manage to climb more. We rested in a place where we were half-way thru to the pass; Mohammed discussed with Arezoo n Nezam, n decided that they both wud go to the summit n he wud stay back with me.

Arezoo n Nezam left for the summit, n I sat there, very disappointed that I wasn’t able to go. I was feeling sleepy n dizzy, Mohammed was quick enough to find out that it was slight symptom of altitude-sickness n treated me with a cup of hot tea n chocolate bars. I was okay after half an hour or 45 minuties, so gathering my excitement back; I asked him ‘what now?’. He told me we can climb upto the pass n go to a peak at the end of it, called Mt. Vezva, if I liked. So, again we were up n climbing. I was demotivated with the fact that I couldn’t anyway summit Kholeno; it was like our cricket team playing last match of the series which they’ve already lost. But Mohammed kept encouraging me by saying that we were at altitude of 3800+ meters, n it was the highest point I’ve ever reached, n he congratulated me for that. I did quite well now, n kept climbing, following Mohammed’s trail. Finally we reached the pass. We walked to the left thru the pass; n reached Mt. Vezva (4050 ms), n god! The view from there was so beautiful! Mohammed wanted me to eat something, but I was lost.. lost there!

To our left was Mt. Kholeno, standing another 350 ms. high. I sat there admiring it.

Mohammed called me to show some thing else. He showed me Mt. Damavand, highest peak in entire Middle-East, standing tall n dignified like a king in the backdrop of other peaks.

We sat on top there for some more time. There were other groups of trekkers too. They spoke to me n asked where I was from. I said I am from India, n more questions followed. As I’ve written earlier Iranians are very courteous n well-behaved; they spoke to me very nicely, one of the girls said ‘welcome to Iran’. I’ve heard this from many Iranians since the day I landed in Iran, but to get it on top of that mountain felt too good!

I relaxed there after eating some food as we had to wait for Nezam n Arezoo to get back from the summit of Kholeno. After seeing them getting down, we too started n met them at the pass. We congratulated them, n spent some time there. It was very windy, n I kept capturing pictures n video clippings. Then we started climbing down. We soon reached the point where we had camped the previous night; after getting our bags, n eating more food there we started clibing down again. I did quite well getting down in spite of few falls. Finally we reached Laalu village, where Araz (Arezoo’s brother) was waiting for us.

After 2 hrs drive, we got back to Tehran. I was at home at 10 pm, with my body completely worn-out but my mind n heart fresh with mountain air!!


Anveshi said...

ಓ...... ನೀವು ನಾನು ವೆಜಿಟೇರಿಯನ್ನಾ?
ನಾನು ವೆಜಿಟೇರಿಯನ್ನು!
ಚಿಕನ್ನನ್ನು ಕಪ್ಪಿನಿಂದ ಹೊರಕ್ಕೆ ಜಿಗಿಯಲು ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಸೂಪ್ ಮಾತ್ರ ಕುಡಿಯಬಹುದಿತ್ತಲ್ಲ?

Satish said...

Beatiful pictures!

Shrilatha Puthi said...

ನಾನೂ ವೆಜಿಟೇರಿಯನ್ನೇ, ಅವತ್ತಿನ so called chicken soup ಬಿಟ್ರೆ...

Anonymous said...

nice read... one doubt.
if Arezoo means ‘wish’, Araz means half-wish ;)

Shrilatha Puthi said...

haha, good logic leena..

Araz is the name of a river in Iran, it also means 'born in the month of holy Ramzan'

Subha said...

Hey Shri, thats pretty neat! Its still a surpirse for me that the pictures are from Iran..!!!

Shrilatha Puthi said...

hm...i guess u have himalayas-hangover!!

Prabul said...

Wow!, I did not know that they were greenery in iran and snow!! amazing....so you did not leave your passion behind back india, I guess. BTW you settling down in iran?

Shrilatha Puthi said...

thanks prabul, n yes, there r lots of misconceptions abt iran..n it being desert country is one. but actually north of iran is quite green, more like europe; south of iran is bit dry land.

me settling in iran? no way...i love my india (that's the song iam listening right now)

Tarun said...

Awesome Snap.
I am really spell bound by the snap of the valley.
Iran = Interesting ...
U did not write anything about the strict purdah system.
But your blogs definetly throws light on the fact that iraninas are good people

Shrilatha Puthi said...

thanks tarun..n yes the place i went for trek was beautiful.

abt purdah ystem? well, there is no strict purdah system here (though some localites wear it, like in india). but yes there is dress code. women need to have fully covered clothing - full sleeves, knee length dress, and head covered with scarf...