Almost all rides and sleepless nights (Natalino has calculated some thirty-two hours of sleep in eight days), this first round in Iran leaves us lactic acid and perspectives.
We land in Tehran after midnight. Waiting for us there Yousef Sorninia, Yones Shariatmadari and Mohammed Khalidzadeh of the Iranian Caving and Speleology Association (ICSA). We load our stuff on two small cars and, eight hours and several drowsiness later, here we are in Kermanshah.
A little less than one million inhabitants, many of whom Kurds, the town lies at the foot of the immense limestone massif of Parau (Parò in farsi, that is filled with water). The Iraqi border is less than one hundred kilometers. We visit the archaeological site and the great source of Taq-e Bostan, then we interviews a regional TV.
After settling in Yousef brother's house, we get lost in the pretty local bazaar. At dinner we meet other cavers: Saeid, Jamal and Mr. Shakoor, responsible for relations with the army and with the institutions of the city.
Three hours of sleep. The next morning at 4:30 we Italians and Yousef are the first to put us on the road: the main access to the mountains passes through a military zone off-limits to foreigners, so we are forced to make a detour of about three hours. The valley that we cross is surrounded by majestic limestone giants. A desolate and lonely spectacle. Someone drew his camera lingers to take some pictures. But Yousef promptly sentences: "Natalino, photo after!". And goes straight pulling the group.
Almost running we reach out to others. Quick stop at a military fort and then we begin to climb, eight hours and 1500 meters in altitude, and we are -tired- to the base camp at an altitude of 2800. Between a cup of tea and the other we learn that this portion of Parau has been subject to military operations until a few years ago, so the explorations have just started. Something tells us that in the next few years we will be hearing a lot about.
The next day Yousef, Luca and Peppe descend into the depths of Qala Cave, a pit explored for about 400 meters, up to an icy ledge. But the vertical goes more down, for others at least 150 meters. They help to transport materials that will be used to deep explorations, planned for mid-July. The abyss is beautiful, and it becomes amazing when at noon a beam of sunlight illuminates the block of ice that is located at -400. The rising of the monster without the aid of the front light is an underground unrivaled experience.
Meanwhile Giuseppe and Natalino, accompanied by the young photographer and topographer Yones, makes a nice prospecting on the massif. In the evening, gathered around the tea, the synthesis of the day: "The Parau is the Canin of the 50's".
The next day two Iranian teams complete the transportation of the equipment and the survey to the exploratory limit of the Qala Cave. Meanwhile, the four of us we make a second long prospection on the plateau. We are away all day. We wander under a relentless sun to almost get lost between crevasses and possible abysses, in a poignant and wild limestone universe. Each hole a pit. Here it is really too easy to find caves. Is a dream.
The next day, dismantled the camp, we begin the descent in the early morning. With us there is always the strong Yousef, who moves lighter like at home. Slips between large landslide blocks, cut small clearings which preceded vertical strokes, takes us on walls to climb downhill slipping the hands into the cracks of a boiling limestone. And here finally the valley bottom. Few houses made of mud and straw. The large Barnoche spring gives us a bit 'of refreshment.
When we arrive in Kermanshah we are burned by the sun and the fatigue, but happy. A night bus takes us to Tehran: we spend the last two days between a dinner at the home of Javad Nezamdoost (past-president of ICSA) and a meeting at the headquarters of the Domovand Mountaneering Club, the oldest mountaineering club in the country, where we present the activities of La Venta.
It was a short week but, as they say, intense. We only tasted a wonderful country. friendships are born with some of the most active Iranian cavers, together we have created the basis for possible collaborations both on Parau and in hot salt caves in the Southeast of the country. In short, another adventure began.
Khodafez! Goodbye! Peppe Spitaleri, Luca Imperio, Giuseppe Savino, Natalino Russo.
Participants: Yousef Sorninia, Davood Mafakheri, Shakoor Bozorgi, Yones Shariatmadari, Ehteshan Mosadegh, Mohammad Khalidzadeh, Jamal Ghorbani, Asra Mafakheri, Saeid Mohammadi, Meysan Fatahpoor, Behzaz Karami, Naser Rooznaham, Luca Imperio, Natalino Russo, Giuseppe Savino, Giuseppe Spitaleri.
A warm thank you to Yousef Sorninia, Yones Shariatmadari, Mohammad Khalidzadeh, Javad Nezamdoost, Masoud Hamidi, Taraneh Khaleghi, Saeed Hasheminezhad of the Iranian Caving and Speleology Association.
Sponsors: Amphibious, Chelab, De Walt, Dolomite, Fedra srl di Tiziano Conte, Ferrino, Hennessy Hammock, Intermatica, Raumer, SAE, Scurion, Tiberino.