August 2019


Running away from death. In the winter on Aragats mt.

Running away from death. In the winter on Aragats mt. 20:16 - 01.02.2013

We had no reason to expect our death, before starting of snowstorm...


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The day 1st

It was February the 1st.  Me and Aram decided to climb Aragatz southern summit.  David rode us to the village Antarut, further car no longer ride, there was too much snow. After a lively discussion a plan was made.

We ascended carrying heavy backpacks on us. Mine was 20kg and Aram’s 25kg. We also had a special winter tent Coleman, warm sleeping bags, ice axes, gas gun and some other stuff. There were snowcycle tracks, so it rammed the snow well and it was easier to walk on that way. Whatever, as we walked through it became harder to walk, any wrong step and we could stuck to waist-deep in snow. We hoped snowcycle had opened a way until Lake Kari.

Passing by meteo-station we saw that the road didn’t end there, well we thought. Walking along we wanted to see Amberd crossroad, wondered if the tracks were going on to Amberd fortress or to the lake. We reached the crossroad of fortress and were delighted to see the tracks open the road for us through the snow, we couldn’t imagine it would be way better that it was closed and we wouldn’t go further in the mountains.

The mist covered us, we walked in fog. There was nothing we could see. Up is white, down is white, and nothing more. Even branches of trees hardly noticeable made us happy, who knew what height those trees were at.

At 5:00pm we reached about 2800m. We were tired to death, the cold was more severe. The weather was unbearable. We were all covered with frost. There were about 5-6 km to the lake, even if we went on we had to walk about 2 hours in the dark. We were powerless. So we decided to stop for overnight right there. To put up a tent was easy decision to make, it was much harder to do it.

We used that tent for the first time and at all, it was for the first time we spent the night in the winter under the sky. It was very difficult to think, ant to act in that situation. We dug the snow approximately.

Setting up the tent we were lucky to see that we took right size. Before taking any actions we had to warm our hands by mouth or keeping them in the chest. It became darker and wind blew stronger.

It took us about 2 hours to set the tent up.

The Night

We helped ourselves into the tent and started to think what to do to recover ourselves. At last, the mats were set and we got into the sleeping bags.

Тhe night passed very calmly and comfortable. We drank a lot of tea, melting the snow from outside. We had a good rest. No one knew what was expecting us the next day. The only thing we were worried about: there was no network to keep in touch with home. Though we had discussed it with David, that we could have to set up our camp before the lake and he knew there was no network coverage there.


By then in Yerevan…

David had to lie at home he said that had talked to us: everything was alright. He himself was worried. He called Mr. Samvel for advice on getting us out from there. Mr. Samvel called the meteo-station and learned, they hadn’t seen anyone. They guessed, we had to set up a camp before the institution. They decided to come after us the next day, if we wouldn’t have called by 12:00am.

By that time we were lying quietly in the tent. After some rest we went out in search of some connection. Opening the door we thought to ourselves that it was better we would be considered dead than we’d really die out there. It was -1C inside the tent, outside - blizzard and snow storms. We had to shake the snow off the tent from time to time.

When we woke up in the morning the storm was still raging. Considering good weather expectations as a waste of time we moved on.

The day 2nd.

Took the backpacks got clothed and went out. Dug some snow to get the trackers, ice axes, fixed them on the packs, we were discussing how to take down the tent.

Then unexpectedly… Hoooow? Whyyyyy?... What’s going on? The wind blows that big tent away like a plastic bag. We tried to get it but got stuck in the snow. In a few seconds tent was lost from our sight. Though we equipped ourselves to get it back. We hoped it had stopped on the backside of the hill. After passing about 1km we got to the hill, far away a hardly noticeable orange point could be seen. The point moved up and down getting far and far away…

What's left of the tent...

Returning to the camp we were in a bad mood, it was hard to believe what had happened in a blink of an eye. So we entered the 2nd part of the 2nd day.

*  *  *

Moving on we caught the network. We called David immediately, told him our coordinates and that everything was ok.  It was 11:45am. If we didn’t call, they would come after us in 15 minutes. Now we were calm, at least as calm as it was possible to be. We thought descending would be easier than ascending and started to go down. Though we took into consideration that it had snowed at night and we could not use the path made by snowcycle. Even then we underestimated the night snow cover level. Descending, we were caught in a horrible snow swamp…

On every step we got stuck to knees in the snow. In some places till the waist and chest and we felt, that our feet didn’t even touch the ground. Using all body force digging our way out we moved on.  We started to drag the backpacks on the snow. It made us move easier. Whenever, it was 5:00pm and we hadn’t even reached the Amberd crossroad, we decided to leave the bags and to move down faster. The night was close, but we had no tent to spend the night. We took the most important things, covered the bags and went on. So we reached the crossroad.

What's left of the heavy backpacks...

It was getting dark. The weather could change for the worse after the sunset. By that time everything was ok, we called home and told we were fine, but we were wrong…

A terrible storm, wind, little ice pieces trying to smash and burry us. It was impossible to keep eyes open, there was so much ice on eyebrows that it was difficult to blink them. We could not use glasses, because it was already dark and we needed to see each others sometimes.

There was no place we could go, no escape. We shouted to each other like savages in order not to be lost: “Aram what is this?”, “Danya, where are you?” We encouraged each other. We emphasized to ourselves, we would stay in the mountains only if there was nothing more we could do. Turning our faces opposite to the wind, watching our steps we moved on. We didn’t even think about frozen hands and legs, the first we didn’t feel them and the second there were more important things to worry about. We wanted to call, ask for help, but there was no connection, besides while we stopped to call we got even more frozen. So we continued to descend as fast as possible, without any more stops.

We didn’t care about wild animals, at least we were afraid of them at the beginning. Passing by wolf tracks, every bush started to look like a wolf. We could see lights of Yerevan far there. “Are we going to die under the lights of Yerevan”- we thought…

Torturing us for half an hour the storm stopped. Only 2kms were left until the meteo-station. At last the network recovered. We called for some help, but we didn’t expect that help had moved out towards us long ago. Some time later we noticed some lights in front of us, then we heard David’s voice. David and Mr. Samvel came to rescue us. We hug them happily, had some hot tea and moved down.

Photographer is our another savior - David.

*  *  *

Our saviors guessed all our actions cooretcly. They didn't know we had no opportunity to spend another night, which was very important. Whatever, we returned home safe and sound...

Very beautifull...

Translation by Ruben Israelyan

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