Mount Damavand, nicknamed ‘Dome of the World’ in Persian, is situated less than 80 Kilometers from the Iranian capital, Tehran. This potentially active volcano with a peak of over 5,610 meters is the tallest summit of the Alborz Mountain range and the Middle East as well as the tallest volcano in Asia.
Damavand plays a prominent role in Persian mythology, folklore and literature, making it one of Iran’s most important national symbols. In Ferdowsi’s epic Shahnameh (Book of Kings), Mount Damavand is where legendary hero Arash the Archer shot his arrow from to mark the new border between the warring Iran and Touran.
This arrow is said the arrow to have traveled all morning and at noon reached the banks of the Oxus River in Central Asia, which became the border between Iran and Touran for centuries. Legend has it that Arash used all his strength to strain the bow and shoot his arrow as far as possible, and fell to his death upon releasing his bow.
Damavand’s nickname comes from a verse by Mohammad-Taqi Bahar (1884-1951), dubbed King of Poets, where he says ‘O white giant with feet in chains, O dome of the world, O Mount Damavand.’
The altitude and conditions of Mount Damavand are very similar to Mount Kilimanjaro. Ascending to this mountain must be by foot or on ski as there are no mechanical lifts available.
While climbing the peak is technically easy in summer, it is a physically difficult hike. Mount Damavand can be climbed from all sides although the easiest and most commonly used route is the South route. The most difficult route is considered the northern one. There are several shelters and refuges along the way where trekkers can stop to rest.
Acclimatization is very important for Mount Damavand in order to ensure a safe and successful climb to the summit. Good places in and around Tehran for acclimatization and practice before scaling or ski mountaineering on Mount Damavand are Mount Tochal with an altitude of 3,944 meters above sea level and Darbandsar with an altitude of 3,150 meters above sea level.
Some of the popular activities at Mount Damavand include rock climbing, mountain climbing, caving, ice climbing, ski mountaineering, telemark skiing, ski touring, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
Mount Damavand has several hot springs, the most important of which is the Larijan Thermal Spring in Lar Valley, which its water is said to be good for treating skin ulcers and diseases.
Frozen Waterfall (Abshar-e Yakhi), which is located at an altitude of 5,100 meters, is one of Mount Damavand’s major attractions. This 7-meter-high waterfall is frozen all throughout the year and is considered the tallest waterfall in Asia.
Mount Damavand is the 12th highest prominence peak in the world and one of the Volcanic Seven Summits. This legendary mountain has been registered as a National Natural Heritage Site.