We planned to drive overland from England, through Europe and Turkey, into Iran.
We were headed for Mount Damavand, a 20,000 mountain where we could research altitude sickness. (Well that was the excuse we used to get the sponsorship money to make the trip possible).
One of the highlights of the trip was to drive overland across Europe, through communist Bulgaria and Tito's Yugoslavia, and then into Turkey.
Mount Ararat is on the Turkish/Russian border. It is the mythical resting place of Noah's Ark.
Note the stork's nest on the pole in the foreground.
Ancient hillside living caves in Turkish Anatolia.
An overnight camp on the West Iranian plains.
The main E5 transit route ran right through Turkey and Iran carrying thousand of huge articulated lorries. But it was easy to drive ten miles off the road at night, and step back centuries in time.
Our first sight of Mount Damavand.
We had chosen this peak as the highest one we could get to within our budget and within our climbing skills. This was years before the days of cheap flights to Nepal and South America.
Our trip was in the last years of the Shah's rule, just before Ayatollah Khomeni came to power. There was some friction in the big towns but the Iranians in the villages were incredibly friendly.
This was a social visit from the Iranian Army. They gave us a lift to our base camp, and some bread, and we were grateful for the company.
Using local transport to take most of our gear up to a mountain hut at 12,000 feet.
We climbed the mountain twice, The first time in two days, and the second more slowly, taking eight days to acclimatize. Damavand was high enough to induce the physiological effects of altitude, but was within our mountaineering skill level (no need for ropes and belays). By taking blood sample on each ascent we could study the change in hormone levels with acclimatisation.
Damavand may be technically quite easy, but any climbing at high altitude is always very hard work.
With an eight day ascent we had plenty of time to find good scenic campsites to enjoy the views. . . . .
. . . .and time to explore ice falls, and other features on the mountain
Resting on Top
My twentieth Birthday, enjoying the view.
We spent four days on top of the mountain. The conditions were fine, except for sulphurous fumes from dormant volcanic activity
Early Morning Blood Tests
Melvyn was a second year physiology student. He had never taken a blood sample until the first time he stuck a needle into my arm (which he only told me afterwards).
But I wasn't worried by that. What did concern me was how to explain all the needle marks in my arm to the Istanbul police on the way back home. (Have you seen the film Midnight Express?)
Sunrise and Sunset - the view from the top
Preparing to descend
Packed up and ready to leave the summit
The fast way down
It took four days to go up, and about five hours to go down.
The glissades were scary - Each one was about three to four thousand feet long.