The Middle East Roof

Damavand is the highest mountain peak in Iran located almost in the center of Alborz mountain range. Damavand is higher than all west Asian & European mountain peaks. Damavand peak is situated in Larijan district, Mazandaran Province, midway the Haraz Road, southwest of Amol City and 69 Kilometers northeast of Tehran. Damavand is an inactive volcanic mountain, always covered with snow. It looks like Fujiyama in Japan but much greater. Its snowy white top with its regular clouds is the most beautiful sight of Iran. There are no records of the last eruption, but there’s hot steam & sulfur gases coming out at the top. Damavand contains about 70 volcanic mouths and one of them is filled with a thick sulfur crest producing a beautiful conical peak with a diameter of some 400 meters. There are some hot springs on its lower slopes like Larijan village. At the summit there is a crater about 150-200 meters across, with a lot of yellow sulfurous rocks and pumice stones. Snow covers the crater and upper slopes in winter, spring and autumn. Because of its great height, the view from top is very extensive, a big panorama of mountains and valley covering many hundreds of square Kilometers. All around are other peaks of the Alborz Mountain Range, in the north to the Caspian Sea, and in the south descending to the deserts of central Iran. When the sky is clear and sunny, Damavand can be seen not only from Tehran but other cities such as Amol, Sari, Qom, Kashan, up 250km far.

The altitude of Damavand Volcano is 5671 meters (18605 feet), it is the highest summit in the Middle East and the second highest volcano in all Asia and the Northen Hemisphere. The highest volcano in Asia is Kunlun Volcano 7167 m (23514 feet) in Tibet.

General Facts

  • Distance from Tehran by road: 80km
  • Attitude: 5671 meters, 18605 feet
  • Prominence: 4667 meters, 15312 feet
  • Latitude: 35° 57′ 19″ N
  • Longitude: 52° 06′ 36″ E

Other Names and Spellings

  • English: Mount or Volcano Damavand, Damawand, Demavand, Demavend, Donbavand, Damāvand.
  • Farsi/Persian: Koh e Damavand alternate Dood koh, Koh Damawand, Qolleh Damāvand. Donbalvand, Dive Sepid, Koh e Ghaf.

First ascents

  • 905 by Abu Dolaf Kazraji
  • The first successful European ascent to the summit happened in 1837 by Tiller Thomson, and the first national ascent was recorded in 1857 by colonel Mohammad Sadeghkhan Gajar ‘s team.

 

Volcanic Activity

At present volcanic activity is manifested only in the presence of warm and thermal springs with therapeutic qualities which have formed travertine deposits and remain very popular. These mineral hot springs are mainly located on the volcano’s flanks and at the base, giving evidence of volcanic heat comparatively near the surface of the earth. While no historic eruptions have been recorded, hot springs at the base and on the flanks, and fumaroles and solfatara near the summit, indicate a hot or cooling magma body still present beneath the volcano, so that Damavand is a potentially active volcano. The most important of these hot springs are located in Larijan village in the district of Larijan in Lar Valley. The water from this spring is useful in the treatment of chronic wounds and skin diseases. Near these springs there are public baths with small pools for public use.

Since spring 2007, there have been some extraordinary activities such as significant emission of gas, steam, sulfurous materials and increase in hot spring temperature. There has been some news and rumors on the media about Mt Damavand new volcanic activity in 2012, these unverified information is widely spread by radio, tv and internet.  There was a reasonable amount of rain and snow fall in winter 2011 on Mt Damavand area. This usually increases the amount of gas emission from the vents in the in following year, also it may increase the hot water temperatures at the flank of southern thermal springs in 2012. Similar events were experienced in winter 2006 (rain/snow fall) and consequently some more volcanic activities in 2007.

 

Mythology and folklore

Damavand has, as any cursory reading of Persian literature will indicate, a special place in the Persian mythology and folklore. The popular traditions of the villages around the mountain are filled with legends and superstitions of which traces can be found in place names, as in the upper valley of the Lar, where a small ravine sprinkled with marshes, warm springs, and geysers is named Div Asiab (the devil’s mill).

Damavand is the symbol of Iranian resistance against foreign rule in Persian poetry and literature. In Zoroastrian texts and mythology, the three-headed dragon Azi Dahaka was chained within Mount Damavand, there to remain until the end of the world. In a later version of the same legend, the tyrant Zahhak was also chained in a cave somewhere in mount Damavand after being defeated by Kaveh and Fereydoon. The mountain was also the scene of an episode in the story of Rostam and Esfandiar. Damavand is also significant to the Iranian legend of the heroic Iranian archer Arash Kamangir and a suspected root for Tiregan Festival.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Middle East Roof

  1. The Middle East Roof Unlimited Potential, Up to 8000m is a wonderful article. I am about to take more time exploring this subject.

    • Clayton says:

      Thanks a lot. The article is nice but much nicer is Iran! I’ve been climber there twice and I’m planning to do it more regularly 🙂

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