Driving the demanding road to Aragats Research Station

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 in the province of Aragatsotn, in Armenia. It's one of the highest roads of the country.

Aragats Cosmic Ray Research Station

How long is the road to Aragats Cosmic Ray Research Station?

The winding road to the research station -constructed in 1943- is totally paved. It’s called H20. It’s a single lane pretty bumpy road. Starting at Agarak (a town in the Aragatsotn Province, on the Amberd River, founded in 1919 by emigrants from Van and Bitlis), is 31.5 km (19.57 miles) long. The site was constructed for top-secret research into atomic reactions for the development of nuclear weapons. It was once a vibrant center of physics with 100 scientists working. Now it provides insight into thunderstorms and cosmic rays -- one of the universe's most compelling mysteries. The Aragats facility is part of a network of sites around the world studying cosmic rays. An observatory half built, then abandoned by the Soviets, sits 200 meters away from the station.

Is the road to Aragats Cosmic Ray Research Station open?

Set high on the southern slope of Mount Aragats, to the northwest of Yerevan, the road is impassable from November through April. 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 -40C. 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.

Is the road to Aragats Cosmic Ray Research Station steep?

The road to the summit is pretty steep, hitting an 8% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. Starting at Agarak, the elevation gain is 2.107 meters. The average gradient is 6.68%. 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, on a plateau below the peaks. The location is well known in Armenia and is also a favorite campsite for alpinists climbing Mount Aragats.
Pic: Arman Grigoryan