Up The Rocks club was founded on January 5, 2008 by Mkhitar Mkhitaryan and friends with the solid intention of developing modern rock climbing, mountaineering and backcountry skiing culture in Armenia.
The rock climbing ethic and gratitude for nature are the core values and philosophy that form the DNA of Up The Rocks.
We organized the "Arev" Armenian Rock Climbing Festivals in 2009, 2011 and 2013 which kicked off climbing route development and international recognition of Armenia on the climbing map.
The vast majority of the rock, ice and alpine climbing routes, as well as backcountry skiing lines in Armenia were developed by Up The Rocks. As well we have created the topo of the climbing routes in Armenia.
In 2013, the Armenian Alpine Club was co-founded with Spitak Rescue Center members and the support of Up The Rocks, in order to provide more efficient, coordinated and methodical ways for the development of Mountain Activities in the country.
One significant work of the club is considered to be the document "Rock Climbing Ethics and Standards in Armenia".
Up The Rocks is a tree in the Armenian mountaineering sports culture.
The Tree has been grown in the soil of the Yerevan Physic's Institute's Alpine Club, Yerevan Polytechnics Institute's Alpine Club, and the "Spitak" Rescue Center.
Our fathers are:
• Aghvan Chatinyan
• Valery Karchikyan
• Nelson Tamamyan
• Aram Kosakyan
• Robert Vardanyan
• Hayk Tonoyan
• Souren Sepanian
• Karo Hovasapian
• Harut Yesayan
• Valeri Vardanyan
• Hrach Makaryan
Our brothers and sisters, who have been around to water our tree with financial, moral and technical support are:
• Vahe Tamamyan (The Armenian Alpine Club co-founder)
• Vardan and Vahe Kosakyans
• Sepanian Family
• Sirekanyan Family
• Ter-Minasyan Family
• Koutoudjian Family
• Karen Marutyan (Marutyan Family)
• Armen Mkrtchyan
• Grigor Sayadyan
• Melkon Khachatryan
• Hrachya Hovhannisyan
• Arno Mosikyan
• Anna Barseghyan
• Manushak Vahramyan
• Mkrtich and Edgar Nazaryans
• Aram Hovhannisyan
• Thomas Baghdasarian
• Bagrat Mkrtchyan
• Vache Manukyan
• Tatevik Zohrabyan
• Armen Navasartian
• Gevorg M. Harutyunyan
• Gevorg Elmasakyan
• Levon Badikyan
• Luca Kueshguerian (Kueshguerian Family)
• Arman Mkrtchyan
• Aida Mkrtchyan
• Arman Grigoryan
• Tigran Petrosyan
• Hasmik Martirosyan
• Mariam Ter-Karapetyan
• Hayk Gevorgyan
• Antuan Ananyan
• Suren Danielyan
• Ashot Balayan
• Alexa Nazarian
• Zaven Araqelyan
• Hakob Gochumyan
• Karn Ashimyan
• Edik Sergoyan
• Davit Simonyan
Our International brothers and sisters who have watered our tree are:
• Daniel Domingo (co-founder and the investor of the first climbing gym in Armenia)
• Will Nazarian
• Alex Chabot
• Sam Bie
• Pippa Planque
• Jared Nielson
• Nasim Eshqi
• Carolina North
• Alessandro Simoni
• Andreas Pfief
• Nis J. Vagner
• Stretch Flo Hansen
• Martin Tucka
• Alexey Shustrov
• Philippe Descampes
• Antoine Grospiron-Jaccoux (Jaccoux Family)
• Alberto Re
• Simon Flachaire
• Alexey Kozlov (Kozlov Family)
• Patrik Aufdenblatten
• Alexandre Gorge (Gorge Family)
• Jacob Balzani-Loov
• Christophe Raylat
• Andrey Ralev
• Rosa Vroom
• Alba Estape Grau
• Viktor Musikhin
• Francois-Xavier de Boismenu (Boismenu Family)
• Graham and Kim McGrenere
• Abbas Mohammadi (Representing the IAC and the Iranian Family)
• Jim Donini (one of my teachers) (Representing The AAC and the American family)
This list is not complete, and I apologize if it is missing the names of the those significant Wales, who have helped us to grow. Some friends from this list have been our members at some point.
The committed members of Up The Rocks:
Andranik Miribyan - rock climber, mountaineer
Was born in 1977, Started climbing and skiing in 26.
"Spitak" Rescue Team member since 2004.
In 2006 successfully passed the German Mountain Rescue Ski-Test by Bergwacht Mountain Rescue Center.
Andranik has that habit of amusing his friends in marginal situations, never loosing his creativity and control, always finding optimal solutions.
Vasken Koutoudjian - rock climber, mountaineer, backcountry skier
Was born in 1972. Mountaineering is a family affair. With mother, father and brother he discovered the world and culture of alpinism.
Vasken was involved in the French Alpine Club's youth team of high performance.
Did several ascents in the Alps, Dolomites, one expedition in Patagonia in 1996 (New route El Mocho, "Little Big Wall").
Later he followed trips in Cordillera Blanca Peru, Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, the USA and the second ascent of Mount Ross in Kerguelen, a truly raw ascent, not for the difficulties but the wilderness of the place.
Ski patroller in the rescue team of Alp d'Huez from 2000-2006.
Did some work with French mountain magazines and now he's a professional climbing and canyoning instructor.
Old fashioned, but still and always in love with mountains.
Best memory? At the age of 12, being with brother (17 years old at that time), doing the Dome de Neige des Ecrins summit (4051m).
Vladimir Belousov - rock climber, mountaineer
Was born in 1977. In 2001 has graduated the Moscow State Industrial University.
Main activities: mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, skiing.Started climbing in 1993, first serious expedition in 2003.
Had climbed in Europe, Nepal, China, Kyrgyzstan, Caucasus and Crimea.
Two First Ascent routes in Nepal Himalaya on Mt. Kwangde and Mt. Kyajo Ri.
Mkhitar Mkhitaryan - your humble servant, founder-promoter of Up The Rocks
Was born in 1980. Started climbing in 2004 and back-country skiing in 2006.
"Spitak" rescue team member 2004-2011. Successfully passed German Mountain Rescue Ski-Test by Bergwacht Mountain Rescue Center in 2006.
Mountain Guide since 2010 (not certified). Co-founder and president of Armenian Alpine Club SNGO 2013-current.
Avalanche Skills Training certification level-2 by Avalanche Canada in 2018.
Have climbed in the US (Yosemite, Indian Creek, Black Canyon, red Rock Canyon and more), Norway, Italy, Switzerland, Georgia, Iran and France.
It has been my duty to recruit members in Up The Rocks by their will and exclude them by my own decision since 2008.
This tactic intends to keep the club's life active, versus becoming like a sleeping organization with a long list of formal members.
Members who have been inactive, not responsive, shown no interest to the club's life, or lost their attitude were automatically excluded.
At some point this tendency took even more radical, and seemingly unacceptable form of removing the list of honorable members from members' page when it exceeded the actual active members' list.
You can find the names of our honorable members above within the list entitled as "Our Fathers are".
However, I do apologize to those members whose feelings and pride were hurt by my blunt manner.
In our website a large amount of the content is about private guided tours and programs.
Along with some help and donations of our friends the guided tours and programs are the main way to self-leverage for making a living, keeping on growing in climbing and skiing, and for implementing our mission.
One big disputable and controversial topic was(is) the initiative of Up The Rocks to ban the Clean Climbing (established by Up The Rocks) on the basalt columns of Armenia.
Because the climbing on basalt columns started recently in 2009, and it was basically Up The Rocks and its festival guests, and the columns were adopted as a symbol in Up The Rocks logo, and then it got closed in 2013, just when it was about to become very popular and bolted:
Some thought (think) that it's Mkhitar Mkhitaryan's ambition and greed to close it to be the "only one" who has ever climbed the basalt columns. Some thought it's because of commercial reasons so I would have a monopoly of guiding there, so one has to pay me to be secretly taken there to climb, and rumors like that.
There is a clear and concise explanation about the reasons and purpose of the basalt columns ban in our website and the document "Rock Climbing Ethics and Standards of Armenia".
We believe that one day we will climb on the columns with a better style whether it's my suggested way of the V-thread anchors or something better than only Clean Climbing is which accepts bolted anchors, and for sure after it’s approved by the true and competent environmental experts and activists.
It sounds imperative and arrogant.
However, that is the way.
Besides the fact that the only very few basalt column formations are considered to be natural monuments, thus the climbing on them is banned by the states now, we consider that it's the fault of the Ministry of the Environment which didn't registered them all as natural monuments.
One should know that regardless of the situation in the country and the hardship that Armenian nation is facing, whether the climbing is active or not here, the basalt columns of Armenia have their own watching guards.
The one who brakes this mandate will be:
Cursed by the vipers living on the base of the columns,
cried by the swallows living on the crags,
and shamed by the eagles nesting on the top of columns.
Stay with Up The Rocks to receive more excitement from mountains.
Updated on Sep 15, 2022
P.S. I appreciate my greater teacher and mentor in life and in the mountains my uncle Hrach Makaryan, and as well the Makaryan dynasty for all the support for what I have done and who I became.