For the people who have asked me in the past for advice on planning an expedition to Turkey, and for those people and groups that are planning expeditions with little or no experience - these tips are for you :)
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of searching for the remains of Noah's Ark, and lose sight of the real value in such a discovery. Seek ye the kingdom of God.
2) Pray some more
Just in case you skimmed over number 1
3) Obtain permission from appropriate officials in Turkey. This can be a time-consuming process, so start a year in advance. In the 1990's, permits are more likely to be considered if there is a joint research effort with a Turkish University. Do not be surprised if you are not allowed on the mountain even if you have permission. Climbing the mountain without a permit is dangerous and illegal. DO NOT attempt to justify an illegal climb for any reason.
4) What to do if you get on the mountain? Many people have different ideas on where and how to search for the remains of Noah's Ark. If you are searching Mount Ararat, this is what I would suggest... plan on being on or near the mountain for 3 to 4 weeks. Many expeditions fail, because they only have a couple of weeks vacation, and cannot afford to wait around for permission to climb.
Never be on the mountain without an Interpreter!
If no one on the team has any experience on Ararat, then plan a get-to-know the mountain trip before a large investment in an expedition. You will have a better chance of getting permission for a tourist climb to the summit, than for research.
You may want to consider just sending a few people to Turkey to secure permission, in lieu of the expense and effort to transport the entire team, only to find that permits have not been granted.
Given that Ararat has been professionally explored by land and air many, many times over the years, it makes little sense to focus on using satellites, helicopters and airplanes on a one-time basis, i.e., spend lots of time, money and effort in a hope that you will see something. Satellite images could prove useful for monitoring the mountain during years when research permits are not granted.
Why spend the money and take the risk to do what has already been done?
I would recommend a small ice climbing group of 3 or 4 people equipped with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), and possibly a small team at a lower elevation or base camp to support the ice climbing team. A GPR unit will allow you to look under the ice. Companies are now coming out with small - light weight for backpacking and easy-to-use models.
We used a GPR unit in 1988 and successfully surveyed and eliminated the eastern summit area and part of the saddle area between the two summit peaks of Mount Ararat. With another team in 1989, we attempted to do the same thing on the western plateau summit area, but were not allowed to complete the research. We were able to measure the depth of the ice to over 250 feet on the western plateau, thus giving credence to it possibly being a caldera or collapsed volcanic cone. This could relate to reports of there being a large lake near the summit of Ararat. The western plateau is at 15,000 feet, where the summit is at almost 17,000 feet. The Ararat Anomaly is on the rim of this area.
There are only a couple of likely places remaining to search. The western - northwestern and northeastern areas of the ice cap. If you read the Genesis account, it seems clear that it took 74 days for the tops of other mountains to be seen, and refers a couple of times to constant receding waters. This implies a summit or near-summit landing of the ark. If this be the case, then there are only around 4 places it could have landed to begin with on Ararat.
1) The eastern summit plateau area 16,800'
2) The saddle between the two summit peaks 16,800'
3) The western plateau 15,000'
4) The northwest ice cap 14,000'
If the ark originally landed between in the saddle between the two summit peaks, then it could be possible for it to have moved down over the years in the Abich II glacier and maybe eventually into the Ahora Gorge. It is interesting to me that when reviewing John Comber's receding water tables, that only the saddle area landing would have the main summit obstructing the larger Caucasus mountains to the north from view, and allow "smaller" mountains to come in view within the 74 days of receding waters.
The Abich II Glacier (which is usually off limits) is not a place for novice climbers. Individuals or groups that want to explore this area should be skilled glacial mountain climbers.
If the ark landed on the northwest part of the ice cap, then it could be possible and likely that it moved down the Parrott glacier and broken into smaller pieces.
If you are a group seriously interested in going to Ararat and need some help with your equipment list or other items, please feel free to contact me.
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