BY NANORE BARSOUMIAN
Alexan Bayanduryan, 34, made the strenuous climb to the summit of Mt. Ararat on August 4 on one leg and a pair of crutches as part of an international expedition. Armenian American Varuzhan Amirhanian from the Pyunic Union for the Disabled joined and assisted Bayanduryan, whose climb up Mt. Ararat came after three years of training.
In 1993, during the Artsakh War, Bayanduryan lost his left leg to a mine explosion. A father of two, he is known to be an active sportsman, participating in a number of wheelchair marathons, as well as an annual climb to the top of Mt. Aragats since 1997, organized by Pyunic.
“I was unaware of the difficulties I might face. The main obstacles came across at an elevation of 4,200 miles, but then oxygen shortage and headache were easily overcome. My mission was to climb Ararat in the name of the fallen soldiers-liberators, and I achieved my goal. Unfortunately, we could not see Armenia from the top because of the fog,” he said during a press conference.
Bayanduryan is the first man to climb the mountain on one foot. His next challenge will be to conquer Mt. Everest. “I must reach the summit of Everest. After a three-year effort, I managed to climb Ararat. Let’s see how much time I will need to scale Everest,” he was quoted as saying.
The Pyunic Union for the Disabled was established in 1988, and currently has 3,000 members. Its mission has been to protect the rights and legal interests of the disabled; to support the financial, medical, social, physical, and psychological needs of its members; and to promote sports for the disabled. Among other projects, the organization, whose director Hakob Abrahamyan is also president of the Armenian National Paralympics Committee, supported the two athletes who participated in the 2010 Paralympics that took place in Vancouver, Canada. The annual climb to the top of Mt. Aragats, organized by Pyunic, is scheduled to take place on Sept. 21.
In September 2009, Erik Weinmayer became the first known blind person to reach the summit of Mt. Ararat. The first recorded climb to the summit was made by explorer Dr. Friedrich Parrot, a professor of physics, and educator and poet Khachatur Abovian in 1829.
About 20 miles south of the Armenian border, the snow covered Mt. Ararat stands nearly 17,000 feet tall. It is believed to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark, and is a national symbol for Armenians worldwide.