Damavand, Pinnacle of the Middle East

Damavand, Pinnacle of the Middle East
Damavand, Pinnacle of the Middle East

Damavand is a perfect cone-shaped volcano located in the central part of Alborz mountain range in the north of Iran on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea.

Damavand volcano is 5,671 meters high. It is the highest volcano in Asia, the highest summit in the Middle East and the second highest volcano in the northern hemisphere.

Snow covers the entire mountain in winter and the upper parts in the other seasons. Damavand has a narrow summit crater usually covered with snow-cap and cloud. The snowy white peak, especially when shaded by cap clouds, is one of the most beautiful sights in Iran.

Damavand is surrounded by mesmerizing peaks of the Alborz range. The view of the huge mountain is more attractive from a certain distance. On a clear day it is visible from 250 km away.

All foreigners who intend to climb Mt. Damavand, either for trekking, ski touring or snowboarding, from any route and in any season, must obtain a climbing permit from Iran Mountain Climbing Federation in advance.

 Getting There

Damavand Volcano is located in Larijan district in Mazandaran Province. It is on the south coast of the Caspian Sea in the middle of the Alborz Mountains about 80 Km northeast of Tehran city.

The only access to Mt. Damavand is by Haraz Road. One can drive from Tehran to Polour resort in Polour village. The nearest international airport to Damavand is Imam Khomeini International Airport near Tehran. On Haraz Road at the Polour village junction, there is a good sign: statue of a mountaineer which shows the correct location, directing to Polour Camp, the first camp of the route.

 Climbing Routes

Damavand has 16 known climbing routes. The most popular one for trekking is the south face which has very clear footprints. The south trail has excellent mountain resorts in Polour Village at the altitude of 2,200 and another shelter named Bargah-Sevom at 4,250 meters high midway. The south route is suggested for beginners. A reliable guide is highly recommended.


Ascend to Damavand summit in summer is not technically difficult; it is physically arduous. The main challenge is acclimatization. The air gets thinner with less oxygen as one goes higher. To raise the chance of success and lower the risk of acute mountain sickness (AMS) and to enjoy a safe hike to the peak it is essential to take time and get accustomed to new environment.


Four of the 16 climbing routes are popular because they have shelters, refuge, or suitable campsites midway. The most popular path is the southern route because of its convenient resort called Bargah-Sevom, or ‘third camp’.

The best starting point for trekking Mt. Damavand is Polour Camp.

This mountain hut is the best place for accommodation and acclimatization and the best starting point for climbing either from the south face or the west route. Polour Resort is built and managed by the Iran Mountain Climbing Federation.

Base Camp or second camp is called Goosfand-Sara. At an altitude of 3,040 meters, it is the summer starting point of the south face. There is a small shelter, a mosque and a sheepfold in the campsite. Due to the level of noise and number of people, Goosfand-Sara is not a suitable place for camping in the summer.

High Camp or third camp on south trail is called Bargah-Sevom. There are two safe shelters and some tenting and camping places on the 4,200 meters high camp. The Old Shelter at an altitude of 4,220 meters is the oldest refuge and the new hut at 4,250 meters is the newest mountain resort.

 Climbing Season

Damavand climbing season may start from mid June and last to mid September. The best time for summer trekking is in July and August, when footpaths are generally clear of snow. The weather is usually moderate then. Public transport to base camp is easy and available.

Beginners are strongly recommended to tackle Mt. Damavand during climbing season only; though resorts of the mountain are often crowded in this time of year. Best starting day is Saturday. Iranian weekend is Thursday and Friday.

Winter season may start from mid-October and last to mid-April. In winter, Damavand is one of the most difficult peaks to climb.

It has mild climbing slopes but freezing temperatures and strong winds up to 100 km/h make ascend very difficult and risky. Damavand receives heavy snowfall in autumn, winter, and spring. Storms, fog, and icy trails are what a winter climber should expect. A highly skilled, experienced guide is a precious asset.