Finishing Unfinished Business

Published by detlefpalm , 16 August 2018, 21h00.

Region: World » Armenien
Date of the hike:19 July 2018
Hiking grading: T2 - Mountain hike
Geo-Tags: AM 
Time: 5:00
Height gain: 600 m 1968 ft.
Height loss: 600 m 1968 ft.
Access to start point:From Yerevan to Geghard on Asphalt. From Geghard to the trailhead with a 4WD and high clearance vehicle

We were in the Geghama mountains several years ago, trying to hike Azhdahak. We had reached our trailhead with a rented Lada Niva, and camped in preparation for the hike next day. Snow fell during the night, and the first order of the day was to bring back the Lada to any visible road and safety. This time we returned in summer to finish the unfinished business. We had come all the way from Germany in a 25 year old Opel Vectra. For the drive from Yerevan to the trailhead, we exchanged it for an even older 29-year-old UAZ, owned and driven by the capable Arayik. The UAZ didn't have a glove compartment, but probably the most reliable four-wheel drive gear around. Air conditioning is provided by removing the front half-doors.

The volcanic cone sits on the vast Geghama plains, which gently rise from about 2000 Meter to 3000 Meter elevation. Its a huge area, mainly inhabited during summer by the Yezidi herders. While Yerevan in summer will be a sweltering 40 degree celsius, the Geghama mountains enjoy a climate pleasant for men, women and beast.

During our hike to the summit, we were overtaken by Yezidi horsemen, who also enjoyed an outing on horseback to the summit and the crater lake.

The main challenge (for me) was the lack of adjustment to the altitude. We basically approached the mountain from sea level, and for many reasons had little exposure to altitude during the past few years. Following our Azhdahak adventure we spent some time in Armenia at an elevation of 2000 Meter, such as at Lake Sewan. The logic thing to do would have been to first hang out at Lake Sevan or other places for a couple of days, and then climb Azhdahak - or any other mountain.

Mid-July is a good time to enjoy the Geghama Mountains. Snow still lingers mostly on the northern slopes, providing a beautiful and striking contrast to the red or white volcanic soil. Flowers appear in abundance, and the air is fresh. It pays to watch the online-weather forecast, for example on, which provides good weather information at different altitude levels. We aimed for the only real sunny day of the week, and were not dissapointed.

It seems customary to hike around the crater lake - if only to extend your stay. Note that there are sheer drops on the northern side of the crater rim.

Hike partners: detlefpalm

Click to draw, click on the last point to end drawing

 41437.gpx Ashdahak


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17 Oct 14
Attempt on Azhdahak · detlefpalm

Comments (5)

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Amiral says:
Sent 12 August 2019, 20h10
We’re about to do the same, but without Arayik ;)

Would you say the .gpx is reliable to get from Geghard to the start point ?

Or maybe you would recommend the driver anyway ?


detlefpalm says: RE:
Sent 12 August 2019, 23h46
With or without Arayik, and without being imodest, I would say the coordinates are very reliable. I recorded the same track twice in different years, and they were virtually identitcal. Much of it is om some sort of dirt road, so you need the gps only at the junction and the final approch.

Its a great area - enjoy the trip!

Amiral says: RE:
Sent 13 August 2019, 08h07
Well, thank you very much for the prompt and reassuring answer !
I’ll try and come back here after the small adventure, for pictures and feedback.

Greetings from Sevan shore ;)

Amiral says: RE:
Sent 23 August 2019, 11h29
Well, it went well !

As you said, both the drive and the hike part of the gpx were very accurate and helpful. In particular, we probably would not have made it without the confidence brought by the drive part.

We had a Lada Niva, which, although pretty old, was fine for the requested job. On the way back, we tried another track, passing by Vank Lake in the hope of getting to the petroglyphs. But it ended being not such a good idea as we had no time to properly look for them and the track back to Geghard was worse than on the way up.

Regarding the hiking part, we did not walk around the slightly smaller volcano but climbed it, which was a good idea. Once there, you don’t need to go down more than a few dozen of meters to reach the track to Azhdahak and the crest walking is really nice. On the way down, we did use the track and the gpx.

Along the way, we met some horsemen family who spent the afternoon at the lake, grilling fish ;)

detlefpalm says: RE:
Sent 23 August 2019, 16h23
Great! You did it right - first some acclimatization, and the taking the hike across Tar (the secondary summit). Maybe you have the opprtunity to do more hikes!

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