Be Arami, Be Arami- A First Trip to Iran - Base Camp

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September 27th 2014
Published: October 14th 2014
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Time to goTime to goTime to go

Me, Mr Soltani and Amir
It's now about 6pm, I'm sitting in a little 2 bunk room in the light; we have electricity! The wind is howling around the camp, it's whistling a bit through the tiny gap in the outer storm/winter window, there's a kind of alcove with the 2 sets inside. Must be utterly freezing in the winter, I can imagine all the snow around. It's noisy outside as the large group from Polour Camp are heading down for dinner. It feels as though the kitchen is close to the room, the very good smell of dinner is wafting up. I make up my bed, given that I'm alone I get to pile up 3 of the 1cm thick foam mattresses and have as many blankets as I want. Someone has left a sleep sheet- it becomes my pillowcase. Kind of like Nepal I think the blankets and pillows probably don't see much washing- they do however smell a lot better than the Nepal ones.

Currently still in my boots and really dusty pants. Have graduated to a couple of extra layers on top- the merino singlet, tshirt, LS merino and LS merino hoodie AND down vest. It's comfortable inside, outside though you need to add a scarf and gortex jacket- the wind is cutting. The toilets are a treacherous trip outside, they WERE pretty clean squats when I arrived but with the to advent of the Europeans, not so much now... Amazing how much excrement can build up in a couple of hours.

So, the altitude- 4237m, physically, at rest I feel fine, some intermittent face tingling which I think is Diamox related but no headache. Add in a trip upstairs to the room and I'm out of breath. I am really hopeful it won't get worse or there might be some improvement even. Amir is very keen to attempt the summit push tomorrow- the winds will be more favourable than the the day after. My concern is the altitude gain of 1200m today and a further 1450 tomorrow- sounds crazy.

Anyway, to backtrack on this day- another 0530 wake up- NERVOUS. Drive to town for breakfast- soft feta, bread and cucumbers, Amir has cream, honey and bread and Mr Soltani, wait for it- eggs and dates fried in butter. Back to camp to get the jeep for the 45 min drive to Camp 2. At Camp 2 there is a very opulent and shiny mosque- it seems completely out of place for the very small number of people living at Camp 2 (about 12) and in comparison to their lean to houses. Apparently it has to do with politics- the building of a mosque on a piece of land gives you ownership of the land ??? I'm not sure I understood correctly. The jeep ride in was very, very reminiscent of Nepal- rocky, dusty, windy, bumpy, mules, bumpy, dusty.... Swathes of brown stubble and rocks.

We started walking and whilst it was hard work breathing initially a rhythm developed that was comfortable (21% gradient). Mt Damavand was visible the entire way- little streams of white smoke constantly coming from it. Took first break at 75 mins then another, another 75 mins after that- perfect excuse to eat a lot of chocolate and nuts. Good news- this was the half way point. It's always really hard to get started after a break- every time I have every trekked, that first bit is always hard. We walked another hour or so by which time the wind had picked up. Still warm though behind rocks. Took a good half an hour at the third stop to recharge - the sky was a bright blue and the vegetation that warm flaxen colour- it was a kind of perfect moment.

Not sure if I mentioned the "Go Girl"? It is the Australian version of a "She Wee". No clearer? It's a thing that girls can use discretely to pee standing up- OK - too much info? Don't read on then .... I mastered it! Discretely! I hope! That done it was time to get the killer breathless bit done. Still no headache. Amir, 15 mins in, pointed out Camp 3- such a bonus, the shortest leg. We were passed by a mule train and 2 Kurds (identified by the really baggy gathered black pants) passed us on their way down. They had been breaking rocks and looking for the right sized rocks to build a new bathroom up there. Reached Camp 3 after 4 hrs, 45 mins. I was happy. The camp building was quite imposing looking with multiple tiers of tent sites in front of it.

Met Seyel (Afghani), Egbad and Akhbar, drank tea, ate biscuits and got tired. Wandered around for a while and met Chris - an Austrian doing an internship with the Austrian Embassy in Tehran. Sat in the sun and chatted- he reminded me a bit if someone. Met 3 data programmers from the Czech Republic. Amir made soup- some sort of vegetable, lentil, mint concoction- delicious with bread and honey. The data programmers were interesting- 1 of them worked on a Mafia game, 1 on car park systems and the other I have absolutely no recollection. It got cold and then it wad dinner time- lamb stew with potatoes, whipped up by the Euro groups leader. I ate with Chris and his Tehrani friend, Rostam. They are keen to walk with us tomorrow. Amir was fine with the arrangement so we arrange to be up at 4am for a 5am departure.

Hit the hard sack early- I've got my "Go girl" and an empty plastic water bottle set up- there is no way I'm going to the toilets outside in the middle of the night.

Will tomorrow be successful?

Additional photos below
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Half wayHalf way
Half way

Sturdy boots

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