How the Future Rector Conquered Ararat | University of Tartu

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Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu
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Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
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    Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
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    Jakobi 5–205, 51005 Tartu
Faculty of Science and Technology
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+372 737 5820
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Vanemuise 46–208, 51005 Tartu
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    Vanemuise 46–208, 51005 Tartu
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    J. Liivi 2, 50409 Tartu
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    Mäealuse 14, 12618 Tallinn
  • Institute of Physics
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    W. Ostwaldi 1, 50411 Tartu
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    Ravila 14a, 50411 Tartu
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    J. Liivi 2, 50409 Tartu
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    Riia 23, 23b–134, 51010 Tartu
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    Nooruse 1, 50411 Tartu
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    Vanemuise 46, 51003 Tartu
Institutions
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    Uppsala 10, 51003 Tartu
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    Riia 23b, 51010 Tartu
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Support Units
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    Ülikooli 18, rooms 302 and 304, 50090 Tartu
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Contacts of UT units

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Faculty phone: 
+372 737 5341
Faculty address: 
Jakobi 2, rooms 116–121, 51005 Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    + 372 737 5341
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, rooms 116–121, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of History and Archaeology
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5651
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5221
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5314
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, rooms 309–352, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of Cultural Research
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5223
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 16, 51003 Tartu
  • School of Theology and Religious Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5301
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18–310, 50090 Tartu
  • College of Foreign Languages and Cultures
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, 51003 Tartu
  • Viljandi Culture Academy
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 435 5232
    Faculty address: 
    Posti 1, 71004 Viljandi
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty phone: 
+372 737 5957
Faculty address: 
Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    + 372 737 5900
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu
  • Institute of Education
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6440
    Faculty address: 
    Salme 1a–29, 50103 Tartu
  • Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5582
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36–301, 51003 Tartu
  • School of Economics and Business Administration
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6310
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 4, 50409 Tartu
  • Institute of Psychology
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5902
    Faculty address: 
    Näituse 2, 50409 Tartu
  • School of Law
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5390
    Faculty address: 
    Näituse 20–324, 50409 Tartu
  • Institute of Social Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5188
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, 51003 Tartu
  • Narva College
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 740 1900
    Faculty address: 
    Raekoja plats 2, 20307 Narva
  • Pärnu College
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 445 0520
    Faculty address: 
    Ringi 35, 80012 Pärnu
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty phone: 
+372 737 5326
Faculty address: 
Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5326
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 4210
    Faculty address: 
    Biomeedikum, Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Pharmacy
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5286
    Faculty address: 
    Nooruse 1, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Dentistry
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 731 9856
    Faculty address: 
    Raekoja plats 6, 51003 Tartu
  • Institute of Clinical Medicine
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5323
    Faculty address: 
    L. Puusepa 8, 50406 Tartu
  • Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 4190
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5360
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 5–205, 51005 Tartu
Faculty of Science and Technology
Faculty phone: 
+372 737 5820
Faculty address: 
Vanemuise 46–208, 51005 Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5820
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46–208, 51005 Tartu
  • Institute of Computer Science
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5445
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 2, 50409 Tartu
  • Estonian Marine Institute
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 671 8902
    Faculty address: 
    Mäealuse 14, 12618 Tallinn
  • Institute of Physics
    Faculty address: 
    W. Ostwaldi 1, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Chemistry
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5261
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 14a, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Mathematics and Statistics
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5860
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 2, 50409 Tartu
  • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5011
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23, 23b–134, 51010 Tartu
  • Tartu Observatory
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 4510
    Faculty address: 
    Observatooriumi 1, Tõravere, 61602 Tartumaa
  • Institute of Technology
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 4800
    Faculty address: 
    Nooruse 1, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5835
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51003 Tartu
Institutions
  • Library
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5702
    Faculty address: 
    W. Struve 1, 50091 Tartu
  • Youth Academy
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5581
    Faculty address: 
    Uppsala 10, 51003 Tartu
  • Institute of Genomics
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 4000
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23b, 51010 Tartu
  • Museum
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5674
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 25, 51003 Tartu
  • University of Tartu Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6076
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51003 Tartu
Support Units
  • Administrative Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5606
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6339
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, III floor, 51003 Tartu
  • University Office in Tallinn
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6600
    Faculty address: 
    Teatri väljak 3, 10143 Tallinn
  • Estates Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5137
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • Finance Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5125
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 4, 51005 Tartu
  • Grant Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6215
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, III floor, 51003 Tartu
  • Information Technology Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6000, IT-help: +372 737 5500
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • Human Resources Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5145
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, rooms 302 and 304, 50090 Tartu
  • Internal Audit Office
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 17–103, 51005 Tartu
  • Marketing and Communication Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5687
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, rooms 102, 104, 209, 210, 50090 Tartu
  • Office of Academic Affairs
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5620
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu
  • Procurement Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6632
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51005 Tartu
  • Rector's Strategy Office
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5600
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu
  • Student Council
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5400
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18b, 51005 Tartu
Other Units
  • University of Tartu Academic Sports Club
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5371
    Faculty address: 
    Ujula 4, 51008 Tartu
  • Tartu Student Village
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 740 9959
    Faculty address: 
    Narva mnt 25, 51013 Tartu
  • Tartu Students’ Club
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 730 2400
    Faculty address: 
    Kalevi 24, 51010 Tartu
  • University of Tartu Press
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5945
    Faculty address: 
    W. Struve 1, 50091 Tartu
  • Tartu University Hospital
    Faculty address: 
    L. Puusepa 1a, 50406 Tartu
  • University of Tartu Foundation
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5852
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu
  • View all other units

How the Future Rector Conquered Ararat

By Lauri Randveer
lauri.randveer [ät] ut.ee

Johann Parrot, Professor of Physics at the Imperial University of Dorpat (Tartu), felt a compelling attraction to Mount Ararat, shrouded in a mist of biblical legends. The date he finally reached the 5,137-meter summit – 9 October 1829 – is regarded as the birthday of scientific mountaineering.
In 1826 Johann Parrot took over his father’s position as the chair of physics in Tartu. As a professor of physics, Parrot became famous all over Russia as well as in Western Europe. However, during his Tartu period in mountainless Estonia, Parrot never forgot his dream to climb the “high, snowy mountains” in the mighty Caucasus.

It was complicated for Europeans to access Ararat because the holy mountain was located on Persian territory and only diplomatic missions could go near it. It was only after a peace treaty following the end of the Russo-Persian War was signed in 1828 that the northern slope of Ararat – formerly the border of Turkish Persia and then the border of Russian Persia – became accessible to scientists.

Soon after peace had been achieved, on 30 September 1828, Parrot managed to rouse the interest of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and receive permission to organize an expedition to Ararat. He was joined by three UT students and a candidate of philosophy from St. Petersburg.


30 March
The expedition set out from Tartu on 30 March 1829, with post horses. When the party reached Tbilisi, just 300 km short of their goal, they learned that entrance to the district of Yerevan was forbidden due to plague. However, Parrot managed to obtain permission from the Turkish pasha, who happened to be staying in Tbilisi, to attempt the climb from the Turkish side.

1 September
On 1 September the expedition was allowed to continue its trek towards Echmiadzin, a town in the Armavir Province of Armenia. Parrot hired Khachatur Abovian, a young cleric from the monastery, to act as a guide and interpreter. Abovian and Parrot soon became close friends. The small monastery of St. Jacob was chosen as the site of the expedition’s base camp.

11 September
On the very next day after arrival to Echmiadzin, Parrot embarked on a reconnaissance trip with the student Carl Schiemann and two locals. They made their first camp on the grass at 3,800 m and the eastern glacier was chosen for the climb.

Early the next morning they began the ascent. They traversed a number of glaciers, which were separated from one another by prohibitive rock ridges. Snow slopes became steeper and steps had to be hacked into the hard-packed snow. The effect of the high altitude made itself felt. The locals soon returned to the base, and Parrot and Schiemann continued the climb.

In the afternoon they reached the last glacier slope, at a 30-degree angle, which separated them from the peak. However, the day had been extremely tiring and it was already 3 pm. So the decision was made to return to the base.

The way down was far more difficult than the ascent and very nearly ended in tragedy. Schiemann, who was walking behind, slipped and fell. Parrot made an attempt to prevent him from sliding down, but the primitive crampons failed and both tumbled downhill. All ended well, however, as they suffered no broken bones or other major injuries, and on the next day the two men returned to the base camp.


18 September
More careful preparations were made for the next attempt. On 18 September, a party 11 strong set out to conquer the peak: Parrot, Abovian, Schiemann, Behaghel von Adlerskron, four peasants and three soldiers. This time another route – the NW slope – was selected for the climb. They slept that night at about 4,000 m.

In the morning, the party climbed over the cliffs and reached the snow-covered terrain where steps had to be hacked with ice axes and hooks. Weather conditions deteriorated, and a wet wind began blowing hard. It was clear that this time the summit would also remain out of reach. At about 4,900 m they put down some of the equipment and the large wooden cross, which they intended to erect on the summit, and returned to their camp.


26 September
The third attempt to reach the summit was made on 26 September. This time the climb went smoothly and on 27 September (9 October according to the new calendar) 1829, at 3:15 pm the party – Parrot, Abovian and four locals – finally stood on the summit. Mount Ararat – the first peak over 5,000 m in the world to be reached – had been conquered.

In his letter written to the university board the next day, Parrot described the ascent to the peak thus: “… we arrived at the peak of Ararat between three and four in the afternoon, happy but very exhausted. For every step we took on the steep snow-covered – more like ice-covered – mountainside, we had to beat great chunks out of the ice, and we did this some 5,000 to 6,000 times.”

45 minutes were spent on the summit: Parrot busied himself with scientific observations while Abovian dug a hole in the ice and erected the cross. No trace was found of the remains of Noah’s Ark, which the Bible said had come to rest there; a chunk of ice was all that Abovian could take away from the summit.



After the conquest of Ararat


After conquering the summit, Parrot hiked in the surrounding mountains, making scientific observations and also climbing the summit of Lesser Ararat. The expedition did not return home until March of the following year.

The ascent of mythical Mt. Ararat aroused great interest among scholars, intellectuals, and church and government circles throughout Europe. In particular, the famous German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt, with whom Parrot was in lively correspondence, took a special interest in Parrot’s feat, since he had climbed and measured mountains himself in the northern Andes.

In 1831 Johann Parrot was elected UT Rector, a position he held until 1834. In 1837, the untiring professor embarked on yet another scientific expedition. In order to determine the impact and peculiarities of magnetism in the Far North, he travelled to Nordkap to conduct climatological and barometrical measurements there.

Soon after his return from Nordkap, Parrot fell gravely ill – probably due to constant exposure to cold, malnutrition and exhaustion during his expeditions. After suffering from ill health for two long years, Parrot died on 3 January 1841, at the age of 49.


Parrot’s companion Abovian – the making of a famous Armenian
Johann Parrot before 1826
October 2009: Estonian and Turkish mountaineers to climb Ararat


Sources: Johann Jakob Friedrich Wilhelm Parrot by Tõivo Sarnet in: GO Discover, May 2006 Issue No. 3. Mt. Ararat by Erki Tammiksaar.