Iraq is a country in the Middle East that is slightly more than three times the size of the U.S. state of New York, covering an area of 438,317 square kilometers. It borders the Persian Gulf and six countries, which include Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey. Most of the land is desert and wasteland, with most of its mountains found in the north along the borders with Iran and Turkey. The mean elevation of the country is 1,024 feet, and the highest point is Cheekha Dar at 11,834 feet while the lowest point is in the Persian Gulf at 0 meters. Iraq’s highest peaks are in the northern part of the country, in and around the Erbil Governorate. These peaks are part of the Alpine system which runs through Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan and eventually joins the Himalayas.
Cheekha Dar Mountain elevates to 11,834 feet and is the highest peak in Iraq. The mountain is part of the greater Zagros mountain range of Kurdistan and is situated on the Iraq-Iran border. The name Cheekha Dar is Kurdish for Black Tent. The first ascent of the mountain was made by English climber, Ginge Fullen in 2004. The first winter ascent to the mountain’s summit was by Mathew DuPuy and Jonathan Beswick in 2011. The peak of the mountain is covered with snow for most of the year.
The rocky topography is characterized by a broken terrain and deciduous forests at higher elevations. Political instability, hidden terrain and the inability of bordering states to co-operate on the mountain’s management, has led to the mountain’s occupation by Kurdish rebel forces. The mountains’ slopes are home to Kurdish ethnic groups, and the peak receives little visitor traffic.
Hasar-I-Rost is the second highest peak in Iraq at 11,834 feet. The mountain lies in proximity to the town of Kocharan, in Arbil, Iraq. There is no tourism infrastructure on the mountain. The lack of visitors to the mountain reflects in the little knowledge available regarding the peak.
Kuhe Haji Ebrahim
Kuhe Haji Ebrahim is the third highest peak in Iraq at 11,768 feet. The mountain is located on the Iraq-Iran border and is part of the Qandil Mountains, a sub-range of the Zagros mountain range. The mountain has a rocky terrain that makes climbing a challenging task. The mountain is not popular with tourists due to the presence of rebels.
Siyah Kayu is the fifth highest mountain in Iraq at 10,936 feet. The mountain is situated near Rawanduz in Arbil. The peak is remotely located and does not receive tourist traffic.
Challenges to Conservation in Iraq's Mountains
Other high mountains in Iraq, and their respective elevations, include Geordi-i-san at 11,726 feet, followed by Kawrak (11,037 feet), Sari Kawraw (10,880 feet), Sari Khazni (10,817), Sari Chale (10,647 feet), and Sari Ashiga (10,280 feet). The tourism infrastructure on Iraq’s mountain remains largely under-developed. Some of the mountains have been war zones due to the presence of Kurdish rebels. Political instability in Iraq also inhibits the growth of mountain tourism and therefore the mountains receive very few visitors. The peaks have a vast untapped tourism potential that could be utilized to boost Iraq’s economy and facilitate the growth of the nearby towns. The country lacks maritime boundary, and this has led to territorial disputes with Iran on Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf. Turkey has had disputes also with Iraq over the autonomous status of the Kurds living in Iraq. Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf. Turkey has expressed concern over the autonomous status of Kurds in Iraq