“How are you? Where do you come from? Welcome to Iran! Do you like it?“ I think we have heard that about 1001 times in the past month during our exciting journey through the underestimated country of Iran. The friendliness of the people was unspeakable and the opinion we had about this middle-east-country changed. But let's start at the beginning!
Teheran, the capital of Iran. We heard about it in the media but nevertheless, we didn't know a lot about this unbelievable large city. With more than ten million inhabitants and located in the middle of a desert, this was the bascamp for our trip. We slowly got to know it and we were surprised how easy the city works, how peaceful and fearless the people live and how easy it is to be a tourist in this Persian country.
Whether our objectives took us to the north or to the south, after a while, coming back to the city felt like coming home.
Our first objectives where mainly sport routes. We learned how to travel safe and efficient, even with all the gear on the back but we also noticed what we really like to tick off during this one-month-trip in between a huge amount of possibilities for a climber. "Pol-E-Khab" and "Baraghan" where two of this destinations and beside of really cool climbing, from granite cracks to overhanging tufas, we were really impressed by the local climbing scene. Not only because they were climbing in the sun during temperatures around 40 degrees with long sleeves and headband but furthermore because of the humanity and enjoyment they showed us. During a really cool 7a+ crack route they managed to make me feel climbing in front of the Chamonix World Cup crowd which definitely helped for a flash ascent!
The next time we left Teheran for the second highest mountain in Iran. The Alam-Kuuh with its 4848 meters is the goal of many mountain addicts in this country. The north side offers steep big wall climbing, while the more frequented southside is perfect for a two days hiking experience. We mistakenly landed at the starting point for the south face route. This turned out to be serendipitous. A beautiful limestone face without routes or climbing attempts but a huge potential for first ascents. We kept it in mind and just one hour later after some fun with 4WD cars we reached our target to get to the north side. An interesting afternoon with three shepherds who showed us how they live was followed by three exhausting days around Alam Kuuh. We didn't reach the top due illness, but with many nice memories and a lot of dirt on our body's, we returned to the big city of Teheran.
Another trip brought us into a beautiful sand-desert. The little village of Mesr was our home for two nights and we enjoyed every sunrise and sunset during out rest days to refuel and re-energize for another visit to the unclimbed wall we spotted.
After taxis, buses, trains and more taxis later we reached Rudbarak again. Our well-known driver brought us with his Nissan 4WD closer to Alam-Kuuh and our mountain of desire. The "Tang-E-Galoo" is a huge heap of rock, with many towers, blank walls and different summits. We spend three nights under the wall, we saw beautiful starlit sky, but again, had problems with our health. Despite illness, we managed to make the first ascent of this impressive wall. In a single push from the bottom to the top, we opened our route, called "Merci Vanet", rated up to French grade 6B trad, we just left one angle piton. Surprisingly solid rock and beautiful climbing movements made us two very happy people and allowed us a very happy ending for this impressive trip in an amazing country.
In the end, it was the people who made this trip special. The Persians, who welcomed us, no matter where and when and helped us to make our trip the best it could be. And my unique girlfriend, who spares nothing and is full of energy, motivation and devotion no matter how hard it can get, a partnership in life and crime, so to speak, made this a trip of a lifetime.
Phillip Pichlbauer & Elena Wiewiora - Iran 2018