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Turkey’s highest mountain has, like many a snowy volcanic peak, an air of myth and mystery. The Bible says this is where Noah’s Ark came to rest, though no sign of it has ever been discovered, despite great efforts. As the domain of ancient gods, it is also a symbol to Armenians, who live in its shadow, and it can be seen from Iran and Azerbaijan. Two peaks rise from the 40km-wide massif, the tallest reaching 5,137 metres with a permanant ice cap. First to reach the summit was the Armenian writer and national hero Khachatur Abovian, who made the first of three ascents in 1839 with the German traveller Freidrich Parrot. Part of the Ararat massif was made a National Park in 2004, and the climb to the top was described by Kate Clow in Cornucopia 21. Today permits from the Turkish government, plus a certified guide, are needed for the ascent. Climbs usually start in the town of Dogubayazit, in the south, and the take about four days.
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