2001 Ararat Peace Climb
from 7/29/2001: LAKE VAN, Turkey. We are now at
beautiful lake Van on our way out after climbing for
the first time ever that dreaded and unknown north
face of Ararat.
the seven climbers, Nasuh Mahruki, David Keaton,
Marcelo Arbelaez, Fernando Gonzalez Rubio , Khoo Swee
Chiow, Tunc Findik and me (Ricardo Torres-Nava) all
have climbed widely, including Everest, we did not
know what to expect from this mythical mountain and
what an adventure this has been!
starters, we were escorted at all times by members of
the Turkish army and we reached the base camp site
with a small tank opening the parade!
All the soldiers have been very helpful and although
it may seem frightening climbing under the army's
supervision it was upmost necessary as you have to
take into account that we are at 50 km from Iraqi's
border close to the Kurdistan and at the edge of
Armenia. This is one of the places on earth that has
been most disputed by several people for centuries, so
as a matter as national security for Turkey we
needed all this paraphernalia that included night
vision binoculars and state of the art communications
you approach the zone one can still see the rest of
past battles ranging from ancient crosses and
inscriptions maybe from the crusades or the Ottoman
Empire wars to missile, cannon and bullet shells.
worked out all the logistics so we can concentrate
only in our climbing and how grateful we are for that
as this North Face requires not only all your stamina
and strength together with all your climbing skills
attention to every step that if miscalculated could be
first day as we left the base camp we started climbing
still followed by the deep scent of a myriad of
purple, orange and yellow flowers that perfume the air
in an almost magical fashion but then as we approach
closely the mountain reality stroke.
is no way to climb in groups, we all have to go
together, nearly one stepping exactly where the one in
front set foot seconds ago. The
rocks fell either in big chunks the size of a car or
in true avalanches.
we were putting our crampons at the entrance of the
glacier I moved first and a
huge rock fell nearly on top of Tunc Findik who just
jumped like a cat saving his life!
are three sections specially dangerous and the glacier
is blue in color with its natural movement that makes
it very difficult to cross.
could not approach the big "U" shaped
glacier, that is almost like a gorge where it is
believed Noah's Ark has rested and broken in two
pieces. For all I might want to find it, that would
have constituted my last wish. I sincerely doubt, I
could have come back alive from that glacier. Now I
know why nobody has been able to unbury the Ark...
know I have promised a bunch of people at least a
splinter of Noah's Ark but I am afraid that is a
promise I could not keep for obvious reasons, neither
the one I made to my Hazzan, the cantor at my
synagogue. I have promised Leibele Jinich that I was
going to play his tape so he could sing "Shema
Israel" at the summit of Ararat as I did in
Carstensz when I completed my Seven
Summits, but when we finally reached the top after
a grueling day I found out I have left the tape back
at base camp. Sorry Leibele!
it was so good to embrace my friends up there and
prove that we can climb in peace and harmony without
back-stabbing a mate just to be the first. The
same mountain forced us to go all the time together as
our only chance for surviving and I am most happy to
we stood for the historical picture, no egos, no
"me first", not
mattering religion nor race. A true peace climb!
Our primary goal was achieved. I
hope that the collection
for AKUT, TEGEV and Babu Chiri's school is also going
sad because there is no way I can approach the resting
site of Noah's Ark but in a egotistical way I also
know that if neither of us with our climbing
experience would be able to cross that glacier to have
a peek and come back alive neither can do it. So
the secret remains untouched. Maybe God wants it that
strange coincidence at least for me as a Jew was that
we reach the summit of Ararat on 9 Av, a special day
as on that same date but 1931 years ago on 70 A.D. the
Second Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by Emperor
Titus and Jerusalem was ransacked as it can still be
seen at his arch in Rome and the Diaspora began.
on that same date but 509 years ago in 1492 A.D. the
Spanish monarchs the Catholic kinks Isabella and
Ferdinand expelled my people from Sefarad or Spain and
many many took refuge in this wonderful country,
Turkey, that embraced the fugitives with open arms. In
fact many of the Mexican Jews came from Turkey.
this very moving and significant moment everything
went back watching every step and picked up our stuff
and Marcelo and Fernando allowed me to use their
satellite phone to call my wife back in Mexico
for a moment. I was so tired I could hardly utter some
words but enough to let her know we are back in
our way out we left the soldiers at their base where
they graciously offered us some tea as a farewell
gesture and headed for Lake Van when we are in the
last leg of this adventure.
are on our way to Istanbul full of wonderful memories
and as a personal reflection
as long as I live I will remember the
smell of those flowers, the sight of the blue glacier
and the warm embrace of my friend on top of Ararat!
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