A New Armenian Holiday: Khachadoor Apovian Mountains Day

Celebrating with Apovian’s book Verk Hayasadanee and Armenian cognac in the San Gabriel Mountains

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

Most people know Khachadoor Apovian primarily as the pioneer in using vernacular Armenian as a written language (for our eastern dialect). But he also climbed Mount Ararat, first on October 9, 1829 (September 27 on the Julian calendar), then two more times, which fewer people are conscious of. He was also first to summit Mt. Arakadz in July of 1843.

In recognition of this feat, henceforth, the Sunday closest to October 9 will be recognized as Khachadoor Apovian Mountains Day. All Armenians will be encouraged to be in the mountains to celebrate Apovian’s accomplishment and honor the mountains of our homeland.

Robert Assarian (driving force of the Armenian Hikers Association— AHA!) consulted leaders of the three LA-area groups of Armenian hikers, and Khachadoor Apovian Mountains Day was born. This idea first arose in an August discussion between Robert (then on his way to climbing Ararat as part of a six-man team) and the leadership of the Armenian Mountaineering and Hiking Federation. The latter is applying to the Republic of Armenia’s sports authorities to formalize the holiday there.

You might be thinking “With so many people, Armenians and others, summiting Ararat, what’s the big deal?” At the time, Ararat was among the highest peaks reached by humans, exceeded only in the Andes. Its tempests can also be quite dangerous. The Himalaya and Tien Shan (central Asia) ranges were barely even known. Everest was discovered only in 1847, and not officially recognized as the highest peak on the planet until 1856. Thus, seen in the proper context, the 1829 climbing team achieved quite a feat. The team consisted of Apovian, Hovhannes Aivazian and Moorad Boghossian from the nearby village of Agoree acting as guides, three Russian soldiers, and Fridrikh Parrot— a University of Dorpat (now Tartu, Estonia) professor.

Even this year, hikes were organized on Sunday October 6, though on very short notice. Hamlet Kamsar reports from England that a group of Armenians climbed a summit in Yorkshire. AHA and ASLA-Armenian Hiking Society in the LA basin hiked to Twin Peaks (San Gabriel Mountains) and celebrated with a copy of Apovian’s book Verk Hayasadanee and Armenian cognac on the peak! In Armenia, a group summitted Ararat— talk about a fitting tribute!

Mark your calendars. Next year, 2014, Sunday October 12, you must head up to the mountains, wherever you may be! And, the best part is, just about EVERYONE can find a peak that’s accessible, whether that’s from a geographical or physical ability perspective

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