Aragats Cosmic Ray Research Station is a high-altitude cosmic ray station at an elevation of 3.199m (10,495ft) above the sea level, located on the slopes of Mount Aragats, in the province of Aragatsotn, northwest from Yerevan, in Armenia. It's one of the highest mountain roads of the country.
The road to the high mountain station is called H20. It’s a single lane asphalted (pretty bumpy) road starting in Agarak, a town in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia. The town sits on the Amberd River, and was founded in 1919 by emigrants from Van and Bitlis.
This is an exquisite winding mountain drive with sharp and blind curves and hairpin switchbacks leading the traveler over the mountains. The road is narrow and very steep. Starting from Agarak, the ascent is 31.5 km long. Over this distance the elevation gain is 2.113m and the average gradient is 6,7%, with some sections up to 10%.
With such a high summit altitude the road can be closed anytime due to snowfalls. The zone is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. It is subject to winter snowfalls with such a high summit altitude, and the road can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. Winter is usually severe, with heavy snow, frigid temperatures and powerful winds. At the Aragats station, the average winter temperature is -15 C, with the minimum reaching down to -40 C. Snowfall is often several meters deep with winds in excess of 120 km per hours (80 miles per hour). White-out conditions are frequent with visibility less than 25 cm (10 in), and there is often a high risk of avalanches.
On the western side of the station there is a beautiful mountain lake called Kari. It is located at an elevation of 3.250m above the sea level and has a perimeter of 1.150m, located on a plateau below the peaks. The location is well known in Armenia and is also a favorite campsite for alpinists climbing Aragats. Don’t stuff your belly too much. Eventually, you might feel vomiting temptations while climbing circuitous roads at higher altitudes.
Pic: Arman Grigoryan