Aiming high: Team of mountaineers to represent Armenia at Himalayan tourism festival

A team of Armenian mountaineers will for the first time take part in one of the most prestigious seasonal festivals of mountain tourism in the Himalayas next month. As part of the events slated for October they are going to climb Annapurna Mount, an 8,000-meter peak in the world’s highest mountain range.

Armenian Extreme Club President Gor Hovhannisyan told media in Yerevan today that about 16,000 mountaineers from all over the world take part in the annual festival that has been held in the Himalayas for 10 years now. A team from Armenia has for the first time received an official invitation to take part in the events this year.

The Armenian team consists of seven climbers. Four of them are women. Three of the participants are ethnic Russians.

“First we are going to climb 6,500 meters up one of the world’s most dangerous mountains – Annapurna, then, weather permitting, we will continue our way up to 7,500 meters or higher,” said Hovhannisyan, adding that Armenia’s mountains are like the Himalayas, which makes them feel confident they won’t have any unexpected difficulties.

The mountain climber says Armenia’s climatic conditions make it possible to develop all types of mountain tourism in Armenia. Moreover, Armenia is regarded as one of the best places for extreme tourism.

“One of our primary goals at the festival will be to see and learn how to organize similar events. Our country has wonderful mountains and all resources, but we can’t use them, because we don’t know how to do that. This trip will give us an opportunity to learn how to do it,” said Hovhannisyan.

The Armenian Extreme Club, which was founded in 2004 and has about four dozen amateur mountain climbers, organizes mountain climbing tours in Armenia on a weekly basis.

Hovhannisyan says that although the development of mountain climbing is going fast in Armenia, there is still no government funding in this area, which accounts for certain problems that they face.

“In general the gear and clothing for mountain climbers is quite expensive, the prices of only a pair of shoes to go through snow of a few meters deep for several days start from 150,000 drams (about $370),” said Hovhannisyan, adding that they themselves take care of their expenses for participating in the festival in the Himalayas, which are estimated at $2,200 per person.