Hiking Alam Kuh

The Alborz offers climbers a selection of 4000m-plus peaks, including Alam Kuh (Mt Alam), which at 4850m is Iran’s second tallest and its most technical. An 800m near-vertical granite wall makes the mountain’s north face a special challenge for climbers, though there are much easier alternative routes to the top. Ascents start 20km from Rudbarak (which is just south of Kelardasht). Before starting you should sign in (and pay IR1,000,000 in peak fees) at the Mountaineering Federation in Kelardasht.

For Alam Kuh, it takes at least a day to trek to one of two base-camp huts. Hesarchal offers the easier summit approach. For the wall, use the climbers’ hut at Sarchal (3900m) and continue to a cwm called Alamchal (4150m). Climbing the wall itself is a very serious undertaking even for highly experienced mountaineers.

From Sarchal it’s also possible to climb Mt Takht-e Soleiman, at the other end of the main knife-edge ridge, but there’s a lot of boulder-jumping on the glacier and plenty of slippery scree. Note: this is the peak that Freya Stark wandered up almost by mistake, as described in her book Castles of the Assassins. However, it is not the Takht-e Soleiman citadel near Takab. www.summitpost.org has detailed information on Alam Kuh.