2023-02-8 05:14:02

Climb to Aragats (Duty shift change in February)

The Aragats Cosmic Ray observatory, used for studying particle acceleration in outer space and the terrestrial atmosphere (see attachment), is located at an elevation of 3200 m. asl (above sea level) on the shore of Kare Lake (Kari Lij). Strong winds, predominantly from west to northwest, relocate large amounts of unconsolidated winter snow, accumulating on the sheltered sides of sharp edges in the terrain. There, snow is deposited in cornices that may reach 10 m. in thickness. Thus, special vehicles are needed to rotate the staff each month. Although the machinery is new and well maintained, the weather conditions make the change of staff difficult. Sometimes this takes several days. Due to abundant snow, the climb on 1 February 2023 took 14 hours, and only in the evening, with the help of a tractor (see Fig.1), did the new duty staff reach Aragats Station. The next day snowfall was so intense that the drivers decided to wait until the snow stopped before returning. Meanwhile, drivers and technicians changed the oil and cabling for a new diesel generator, a reserve energy source for emergencies (see Fig. 2). Only on the next day did the old duty shift, with great difficulty, reach the Nor Amberd station at 2000 m. asl (see Fig. 3). They were transported to their homes the same day. 

Figure 1. Tractor risqué stuck in deed snow next to the Ohara all-terrine vehicle

Figure 2. Aragats staff near the new diesel generator, from left to right: technicians: Avagyan Serega, Asatryan Karen, Gabaryan Gurgen, drivers: Karapetyan Ara, and Hunanyan Samvel

Figure 3. Before leaving the Aragats station on February 3