Snow is finally here in Tehran, we have now more than 30cm of snow in our front yard, at the north of the city. It has been snowing all day and even now at midnight. You can see spectacular scenes in the streets, and might find some trouble in getting home through the icy avenues at night.
In this very cold weather tonight, I was invited to a very warm and memorable ceremony. Several non governmental mountaineer clubs and associations had convened a nationwide ceremony to celebrate the achievements of pioneer leaders in this field. More than 1500 members had gathered in Bahman Cultural Center in the southern part of Tehran. The program consisted of a live Iranian music concert, a short satirical skit and a documentary on mountain climbing as a national sport.
I learned some interesting statistics, including the fact that over 300,000 people climbed the mountain ranges of Alborz in the north of Tehran every weekend. These mountaineers came from a wide range of ages (3-75) and from all walks of life.
I was invited as a guest speaker and I took the opportunity to stress on the environmental worth of mountains and their importance for our nature and biodiversity. I mentioned that during my tenure in the Department of Environment we had understood that certain mining activities were endangering Damavand, the most elevated and majestic volcanic mountain of Iran. We took measures to designate Damavand as a National Natural Monument, providing it with the highest degree of protection. I mentioned the importance of integrating mountaineering activities with environmental values and education on how to respect and protect nature particularly the mountains. In conclusion , I hoped that mountaineers would attain not only the summits of mountain ranges but also the summits of humanity and ethics that the world lacks so evidently .
As a mountain climber , you will find the opportunity to test your will and perseverance. You learn to tolerate hardships and prepare for the challenges of life. The mountaineer catches the birds- eye view, the vast perspective that many of us lack in in making decisions and choices in life. The mountain climber gets the chance to get closer to nature.
I remember how, as a college student during the dictatorship of the deposed Shah, we used to go mountain climbing as a means for maintaining self confidence and revolutionary strength and awareness.
Tonight, I saw men and women who had reached the heights of Everest and who were professional athletes in this field. I also saw men with disabilities, altruists who had sacrificed their limbs in defence of the country against the aggression of Saddam, more than two decades ago. These men climbed mountains with such unique strength and confidence. They stand as examples of endless devotion, confidence and love for all.
I forgot to wear my mountaineering shoes and gear tonight, but I somehow recovered some of the memories of those youthful days. Those were the very days that we had the energy to climb every mountain, with the hope of reaching the light and elixir of eternal bliss.