There are at least 16 known routes to the summit which have different difficulties. Some of them are very dangerous and require rock climbing. Three routes are popular with climbers: North, South and North-East faces which are adjacent to villages and all have shelters/huts in midcourse. The most popular route is the Southern Route which has step stamps and also a camp midway called Bargah Sevom Camp/Shelter at 4220m (about 13,845 ft). Damavand is often subject to intense west winds and experiences cold winters, so climbing in this season has always been challenging for domestic as well as foreign climbers. The best major settlement for mountain climbers is the new Iranian Mountain Federation Camp in Polour village, located on the south of the mountain.
The longest route is the Northeastern and it takes two whole days to reach the summit starting from downhill village of Nāndal and a night stay at Takht-e Fereydoun (elevation 4300 m – about 13,000 ft), a two-story shelter. The western route is famous for its sunset view. Sīmorgh shelter in this route at 4100 m (about 13,500 ft) is a newly constructed shelter with two stories. There is a frozen waterfall/Icefall (Persian name Ābshār Yakhī) about 12m tall and the elevation of 5100m is the highest fall in Iran and Middle East. The North face has an extra shelter at 5000m.
South Route: It is easily accessible from Tehran or North of Iran, the short distance from Tehran to the Haraz main road make southern approach the best trail. This is by far the easiest and the best side, and the ascent to the summit by this way is also shorter. Route type is basic mountaineering, with difficulty and climbing grade moderate, walk-up and easy descend.
North East Route: Route type is mountaineering, with difficulty long and hard ascend with cold and wind and long descend. It has a shelter called Takht e Fereydoun at about 4500m. The refuge is called Panagah Simorgh in Persian.
West Route: West route type is basic mountaineering, with difficulty and climbing grade moderate walk-up, basic snow and cold and difficult descend. There is a refuge at 4200 m called Simorgh Camp. The shelter is called Panagah Simorgh in Farsi. Simorgh means Roc, a gigantic legendary bird said to carry off elephants and other large beasts for food. It is mentioned in the famous collection of Iranian tales.
North Route: The north face is the most difficult side of Mt Damavand with difficulty and climbing grade scramble mountaineering, steep, hard ascend, depending on season, cold and windy, snow & ice, difficult descend. It has two shelters called 4000 and 5000.
Most climbers who have managed to climb to the summit from West, North East, or North Face prefer to descent from south face because of its easy descend footpaths
Climbing Grade in Different Systems
Please note that these grades are Mount Damavand Guide opinion only, there are usually differences between grading in different climbing routes. Regardless of the system used, all grades are an approximation.
- Difficulty: F, YDS class 2 (and sulphur gas above 5400 m)
- UIAA: II
- USA: 5.3
- Australia: 11
- France: 2
- YDS Grade: Grade V, two day climb Classes 2 and 3
- Adjectival grade: Moderate (M, or “Mod”)
- French Alpine: PD: peu difficile (not very difficult)
- New Zealand: Grade 1, Easy scramble. Use of rope generally only for glacier travel.
- Alaska Grade: Grade 2 Either a moderate fifth-class one-day climb, or a straightforward multiday nontechnical climb
Mt Damavand shape is conic like many other volcanos, it looks like Fujiyama in Japan, but much greater, with the altitude 5671 meters and a crater diameter approx 200 to 400m across and 30m deep, the crater has a permanent glacier which melts in hot summers and forms a small pool with little water. There is no shelter or refuge at the top, in case you want to challenge 7000 m or higher altitude you can make you own tent for acclimatization somewhere safe and away from sulfuric gases in or around the crater.
The summit is made of lots of yellow sulfurous rocks and pumice stones, usually covered by ice and snow. This stratovolcano has some sign of volcanic activity at the top, a big vent was formed in 2007 just below the crater with high fumarolic activity, through which hot sulphurous gases emerge, releasing a significant amount of smoke and hot sulphuric gases.
Mt Damavand Glaciers
There are some major glaciers on Mt Damavand, these huge mass accumulation of snow and ice are formed during ages and are the main source of water for Talkh Roud River and the Lar Dam Lake, one of the main reservoir of fresh water for capital city of Tehran. These glaciers are mostly located on east and north face. It appears that some of these glaciers cannot qualify as a true permanent glacier because they may disappears during a very hot and dry summer.
The most important glaciers are:
East and North East Face Glaciers:
- In the enormous Yakhar Valley in the east side of this volcano there is large glacier called Yakhar which is the most well-known and the biggest glacier of the mountain, it starts from about 3500 meters high to just below the summit, it has was climbed many times in summer but not in the winter. This glacier is the main source for Talkhrood River, ending in Caspian Sea.
- Chalchal Glacier and Arosakha, are other significant glaciers located on these sides.
North Face Glaciers
- Two large glaciers are located on the north face, called Dobi Sel and Sioleh, the north route ridge passes between these two glaciers, which makes this route colder compared to the other routes.
South Face Glacier
- There is a small glacier on the south face in Kafar Valley (Kafar Dareh), called South Glacier or Kafar Dareh Glacier. It’s situated between south route ridge and Mollakhoron Ridge, it passes by Damavand Icefall.
West Face Glaciers
- There are some small and none important glaciers on the west side which do not have particular names.
- There is a small glacier on the volcano crater, called summit glacier, mostly frozen, but in a hot summer you may see a little water in the crater.
Just near the summit and under the crater, at the junction where south and east climbing routes join together, a big new vent was formed in 2007, which is still exhaling a great amount of smoke and hot sulfuric gases and steam with pestiferous smell, this makes some problem for climbing. Without adequate equipment such as oxygen mask, it is quite dangerous to go close to this vent, because if the wind changes its direction, you could get caught in the sulfuric poison gas.