before sunset, we notice that our mule drivers (who will
be carrying our supplies and camping equipment) are
nowhere to be found. The cook and I make camp while
Ali locates the drivers, who it turns out were waiting for us
in the wrong spot.
It is just before sunset and I am at 13,800 feet and crouching down close to the ground to take a photo of the valley
beyond, where I started my trek. Out of the corner of my
eye I catch movement on the ground and realize there is
a snake at my feet. I jump up and run a few feet away with
my heart racing.
“No one has died from a snakebite up here,” Ali says
to me with a smile. I reply, “Not yet,” and we both laugh.
I am hoping to climb Alam-Kooh, the second-highest
peak in Iran at 15,912 feet. I am the only foreigner on the
trail. The window of opportunity for exploring this area
is very short, from the beginning of July to late August.
After that, the passes close due to snow and ice.
Trekking in Iran is very different than trekking in the
Himalayas, where I usually lead tours — the support staff
here is good but minimal; we set up our own tents and
eat alfresco; and there are no dining or toilet tents and no
Sherpas to set them up. But the Iranians are very helpful,
friendly and polite and this makes up for the missing Sherpa
support. The food is also very good, but if you like coffee
bring your own, because the standard on trek is Nescafe.
After we pass two small villages and hot springs we are all
alone to enjoy the mountains. It’s an absolutely wonderful
experience not seeing other trekkers. I have been on about
50 treks all over the Himalayas, Karakoram, the Hindu
Kush, the Pamirs, Africa and South America, and this trek,
albeit short, is a treat indeed. The weather is hot during the
day and pleasant at night until we reach higher altitudes.
Destinations / JOURNEY