Mount Damavand, the highest peak in Iran and the Middle East locates on the south of the Caspian Sea in the country of Amol, Mazandaran. This mount is an inactive volcano which plays a significant role in the Persian mythology.
History and Mythology
The origin and meaning of Damavand is not clear. However, some researchers believe that it should mean “the mountain from which smoke and ash arises”, alluding to the volcanic nature of the mountain.
The earliest recorded ascent of Damavand was made in 905 by Abu DolafKhazraji, although there might be others preceding him. Three centuries later, Yaqut, the great Byzantine/Arab geographer attempted to climb this mountain, but failed. Nevertheless, the local people gave him enough details to add Damavand to his famous “Dictionary of Geography”. Apparently, climbing Damavand was not uncommon in the early 13th century, before the Mongol invasion. Iranians used to climb Damavand in order to gather Sulphur for commercial purposes.
Specialists have estimated that the first eruption of Damavand volcano goes back to 1.78 million years ago. They also believe that the last one occurred in 5300 BC. Experts still consider it as an active volcano, since there are fumaroles near summit crater which emitted sulfur around 2007.
There are also some mineral hot springs on the flanks and the base which show that the volcanic heat is relatively close to the surface. This proves that there must be a hot or cooling magma body beneath the volcano. It is good to know that the most important hot spring among these exists in ‘Ab-e Garm-e Lahijan’ in the Lar valley. The spring is useful in treating the chronic pains and skin diseases. For this reason, there are some public baths near the spring.
On the other hand, Damavand is an important symbol in the myths and folklore of Iran. It is considered to be the symbol of resistance and pride in the Persian literature.
The best route for climbing up to the summit of Mount Damavand starts from the village of Polour on the southern side of the mountain. Damavand has at least 16 known routes to its summit, each with a different level of difficulty. Some of them are quite dangerous and need rock climbing. But still, the most popular route is the southern one with step stamps and a midway camp called ‘Bargah-e Sevom’. Also, the longest route is on the northeastern side, staring from the downhill village of Nandal and taking two days for reaching the summit. In the course of the western route a frozen ice fall known as ‘Abshar-e Yakhi’ is visible. It has an elevation of 5100 m and is the highest fall in Iran and the Middle East.
Natural Heritage Site
The Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Mazandaran Province claims that Iranian mountaineers have submitted a proposal to register Damavand as a natural heritage site. The proposal has been accepted and this organization is currently going to rename one of the ancient festivities to Mount Damavand.
Read here more about other heritage sites in Iran