Minaret Peak, Ascent. On May 5, A1 Read, Jean Weiss (U.S.), Abbas Jafari (Iran) and I left the Iran Mountaineering Federation’s hut at the village of Rudbarak in the foothills of the Alam Kooh (also transliterated as Alum Kuh; see above) range of Alborz mountains in north Iran. We headed up the Hezar Chal Valley, skirting around the west to the south side of Mt. Alam Kooh (16,200'), the second-highest peak in Iran. We had to change our original plan of going to the famous north face and ridge. The El Niño spring had deposited unusual amounts of snow on the high north glacier, and our mule drivers couldn’t take our camp to the north face.
Hezar Chal Valley turned out to be a great choice. Ali, our local cook, said that the last time a foreign group visited this side had been in 1981, when a Polish film crew spent a week there. Alone in this vast cirque, we established our Base Camp at 11,500 feet in the center of the valley. We climbed a very enjoyable new alpine route (III 5.0) on the south face of Minaret Peak (13,770'). This peak bore a striking similarity to Wyoming’s Grand Teton. Our route started on a shallow snow gully on the left edge of the steep south face. A few pitches higher, where the gully divided, we climbed left to a short rock section. Delicate climbing on not-very-solid rock led to the extreme left buttress of the face. Another steep gully above was climbed directly to a shoulder just below the summit. On the summit, as sign of hospitality to the American guests of Iran, Jafari suggested the peak be renamed the “Exum Minaret” in honor of the Exum Mountain Guides in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. We spent two more days at the camp, during which Jafari and I climbed a rounded 12,500-foot peak. The next day, Read, Jafari and I climbed the circuitous south face of Alam Kooh (third and fourth class).
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