Expedition Reaches Mt. Ararat Summit

The group at Ararat's summit


On July 15, a team of 11 men, including six from Southern California, two from New Jersey, two from Canada, and one from Fresno reached the summit of Mt. Ararat. Team “Ararat 11,” a code name that the team had given themselves would soon be known to all Armenians.

On July 13, team “Ararat 11” traveled 14 hours in a van to Georgia in order to enter Turkey. At the Turkish border, one of the Turkish guards asked them why they were going to Turkey. A team member, who was fluent in Turkish, told the guard that they were going to climb Mt. Ararat. The guard took one look at one of the team member’s white hair and asked, “This guy is going to climb Mt. Ararat?” The guy that the guard was referring to was Vatche Soghomonian of Fresno. The guard got up from his chair and requested a photo with Soghomonian. According to Soghomonian, the guards at the Turkish border were overall very cordial.

The team crossed the border into Dogubayazit, Turkey, a town at an elevation of 6,000 feet and situated on the base of Mt. Ararat. Team “Ararat 11” started their climb on July 15, 2010 and on day one they reached camp one at 10,000 feet. On day two they climbed to camp two at 14,000 feet where they spent the night.

That night there was heavy snow and hail “from hell,” Soghomonian recollected Even though their guide refused to continue the climb, the team was determined to reach the summit of Mt. Ararat. When one of the team members, Seth Setrakian got altitude sickness, he was told by Dr. Khodam Rostamian, a doctor from Glendale Kaiser that was with the team that he should descend to a safe area and wait for the team there. Setrakian answered that if one was going to die, the best place for an Armenian to die was on Mt. Ararat.

Determined and their will power in tact, the team finally reached the summit of Mt. Ararat on day three where they erected the Armenian national and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic flags. The team sang and danced and “One had to be there to see the feeling of each individual. We were in heaven that day, “said Vatche Soghomonian

Each of the individuals in team “Ararat 11” had a different reason for taking on this mission. For many of the team members, they wanted to satisfy their dream that Ararat was once theirs.

For Noel Gharibian, there is no other symbol that is more important to Armenians than Mt. Ararat. Last September, Noel Gharibian had met with a group that had summated Mt. Ararat on September1. The group told him and others that were interested, how they had accomplished the climb and gave them the contact information for the Turkish organization that was responsible for arranging the climb. Although the team got the proper permits needed for the climb, once they got there they were told that the Ministry of Tourism had sent a fax saying that they had cancelled the permits. 

However, the area is populated mostly by Kurds who don’t care much for the Turkish central government and do not pay that much attention to permits. Gharibian stated that for the Kurds it was more about business and actually getting people up on the mountain. Thus, the team was able to go on with the climb. 

For Edwin Davidian the experience was a once in a lifetime. “There are no words that can describe the feeling we experienced when we got to the summit,” said Davidian.

He said this experience would be great teaching tool for his children and future generations to continue the kinship with homeland as represented by Mount Ararat.

For Vatche Soghomonian, it was about raising money for Armenia’s Cosmic Ray Research Division (CRD) The CRD is a division of the Yerevan Physics Institute in Armenia. The Cosmic Ray Research Division is among the top 5 countries in the world with its knowledge of cosmic ray research and is able to predict bad weather ahead of time. Soghomonian believes that the CRD is doing important research that will help Armenia get further ahead in scientific advancement Since the CRD no longer receives aid from the Armenian government they rely mostly on individual donors. 

Although this was Soghomonian’s first time climbing Mt. Ararat, he is no stranger to using sports as a means of fundraising. His fundraising days go all the way back to his recruitment into the Armenian Technology Group (ATG) whose mission is to guide Armenia towards autonomy in the areas of food and agriculture. During his time with the ATG, Soghomonian participated in several bike-a-thons in order to raise money for various funds. ATG’s first bike-a-thon, which took place in 1999, raised enough money to put the first grape vine nursery in Nagorno Karabakh.

For the Armenian Technology Group’s 11th bike-a-thon, a friend of Soghomonian suggested that since Mt. Ararat was a huge symbol of Armenia, they should do a bike-a-thon in Armenian and then climb Mt. Ararat. Soghomonian talked about everyone’s enthusiasm at the prospect of climbing Mt. Ararat.

Soghomonian wants Asbarez readers to know that that he is very much devoted as a Diaspora Armenian and will do whatever is in his means to find any possible vehicle to generate wealth to support his ancestral homeland. Raising money through bike-a-thons and climbing Mt. Ararat are such “vehicles” for Soghomonian.


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  1. Osik said:

    My congratulations to all of you for your heroic act.
    You guys are all blessed now.
    Yekhbayrakan Barevnerov,
    Glendale, California
    PS, Please post some pictures in a public account on the FaceBook if possible

  2. Sevan Ourfalian said:

    I think there’s been a mistake here. This expedition made the climb in 2009. But just two days ago, this year, the ararat2ararat team climbed the summit with 11 members, 3 of which were women!

    • Ara Khachatourian said:

      The expedition with three women just completed their climb and returned. More on that in Asbarez. This was a separate expedition, which concluded their trek a week or so ahead of the one you mention. Thanks. Editors

  3. LINDA said:

    կը շնորհաւորենք «Արարատ 11» ը, Հայ ժողովուրդի սիմպոլը եղող Արարատի նուճումը ինքնին ցոյց կուտայ հայ ժողովուրդի ապառաժեայ կամքի ուժը, հայ ժողովուրդի հաւատքի զօրութիւնը եւ հայ ժողովուրդի գոյատեւման գրաւականը: Ապրիք ձեր գործունէութիւնը ուսանելի է ու վարակիչ:

  4. Vanessa Kachadurian said:

    Vatche Soghomonian is in better shape than people half his age, daily he can be seen riding his mountian bike. We should all wish to be in great shape like Vatche mentally and physicially. Go Vatche Go!!!!

  5. Zaven Ayanian said:

    God bless you for your efforts to help the Armenian cause, even climbing Mount Ararat. What a heroic jesture.
    Keep your spirit. I am delighted to be your childhood friend.
    Zaven Ayanian

  6. Armen said:

    Good job. As long as no Armenian willingly gave Ararat away, nobody has the right beside them to own it, Ararat originally belongs to Armenians. Turks immediately after asking forgiveness of the Armenian people, for the genocide their Turkish ancestors governments did commit, must return Ararat, as well as rest of the Armenian belongings, back to their original owners (Armenians).

  7. Betty Apigian Kessel said:

    God bless the Ararat 11 for their courage and determination to climb “our” mountain. What a memory for them to know they accomplished an endeavor that would make their Hyegagan ancestors proud – our martyrs and the diasporan Armenians as well. Planting the Armenian and Artsakh flags was a momentous occasion and I am surprised they got away with it without any repercussions. You made all of us who share the same Armenian blood as you the Ararat 11 very proud. To step foot on the holy mountain can be likened to landing on the moon as far as I am concerned. Abrees tdzee.

    Serpouhie Apigian Kessel

  8. Denise Hagopian said:

    You spirit and strength will lead others to Mt Ararat.
    The summit has seen the flags of it’s original people.
    You climbed for all of us who only dreamed it possible.
    May God Bless all of you and keep you safe.

  9. Haig Zakarian said:

    Awsomeness, I want to plan a trip of my own, any advise?

    Abris Yeghpairner!

  10. berkay berkoğlu said:

    Ağrı Dağı (Mount Ararat) is Turkish land. You’are dreaming to have your national symbol. Turkey is a great country, you have to know this reality very well. And never forget it.

  11. Joe Doe said:

    You’re like children. Is it a victory against Turkey? Could you still do it if Turkey didn’t give you visa?

  12. Pingback: [Web Wrap]: Expedition Reaches Mt. Ararat Summit. « FARs Blog

  13. blackSea said:

    silly guys,
    if u fake and have fun with my country like that,I think u would not allowed to get in my country again :)

  14. nope said:

    Keep on dreamin, you fools!!! And Turkish government got the control all over the Turkey…

  15. Ararat said:

    Once a Turk always a Turk. What are you going to claim as yours next, the Moon and the Stars? Ararat is the national symbol of Armenia and will remain so untill the end of time no matter who says what. Artificial borders can not change historical facts. One more thing, in the Hebrew Bible the word Ararat refers to Armenia, therefore Armenia is in Turkey. Don’t you ever forget that you illiterate Turkish goat herders. It will be liberated and returned to its people soon !

  16. john timothy pashayan said:

    i can share their feeling of joy because in september 23 1991 as a armenian born in fresno i witness the departure of russian troops leaving yerevan and watching the people pull down statures of leinn stalin and within hours people had set up tables in front of their houses selling itema that had been hidden from the russians for years .i will go to my grave knowing that i witness dream come true for the people of armenia

  17. Hilda Tokatlian, Montreal, Canada said:

    Congratulations to all 11 for the awesome experience. And for all Turks who claim Mt. Ararat is Turkish property: Mt. Ararat might be in Turkish confiscated lands belonging to Armenians. Just the fact that Mt. Ararat and its surrounding area is inhabited by Kurds confirms that those lands belonged to uprooted and murdered Armenians and were given to the Kurds by the Ottaman Empire. Way to go Turks – your reputation as a murderous nation precedes you.

  18. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    I think it’s foolish for the Turkish government not to consider returning Ararat to Armenia. Ararat means nothing to them but a secondary tourist attraction but it means everything to the struggling Armenian people. Ararat symbolizes the nation’s will to survive against incredible odds and monumental historical bad fortunes. It is a witness to the Armenian history from beginning of time to our present day. It has withstood the test of time and all of history’s conquerors.

  19. Tsoler said:

    wow great guys great job
    it is my dream to climb Mount Ararad one day and put the flag of Armenia on it
    maybe i’ll be the first Armenian female doing that and putting our blessed flag
    go guys i’m so proud, i’m sure every Armenian is

  20. Erik said:

    Nice picture!..
    I have been summit in 2008 with AraratSunRises Travel Agnecy..
    They was proffessional ..I want to climb there again …
    Holly Ararat I Miss You :)

  21. Arkady said:

    You can contact Anatolian Adventures, the biggest organization to climb Mount Ararat, to apply for Ararat permits, and to buy tour packages as an individual or group.

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