Ascent of Mt Aragats

A mountain I always wanted to climb is Mt Aragats the highest peak in Armenia at 13,420 ft. I was fortunate to summit in October of 2016 with a great mountain guide/photographer Hrach Hovhannisyan. Aragats the remnant of a extinct volcano, is a nice challenge of four separate peaks and manageable for the conditioned climber to ascend, couch potato no.

We began our ascent on a early cold crisp morning after a light snowfall that previous evening. Our goal was to summit around noon to beat any seasonal snow storm that may enshroud the top later that afternoon during our descent. Luck was on our our side as you see the storm clouds just starting to encroach in these photos.

On our ascent I looked over my shoulder a few times and I saw a line of dust rising up from what looked like a fast moving caterpillar across the valley floor. In about 45 minutes I was able to make out camouflaged men moving fast in formation. These young men in obvious great shape reached within 50 yards of me in no time at a rocky section of Mt Aragats they blew past me like they had springs in their legs. Up the increasing incline they passed me out of sight till they appeared again near the summit ridges looking like a crawling caterpillar again.

I reached the summit maybe a hour after they made it, and was introduced to the Captain and high altitude medical trainer of the Armenian Army’s Mountain Division. Well they were out for a chilly morning workout to take a summit of 13,420 ft. Legs of youth made that mountain just a hill!

Months of planning put me unexpectedly on the path of these great young men. These brave soldiers manning every stone aerie in the heavens are the defenders of a great nation, the future of Armenia is bright in their hands. A photographer’s secret magic like in no other art form is being on the right path towards the intersection of the unforeseen.

All photos copyright by Armen Kojoyian