When President Ahmedinejad issues his anti-Western tirades, he often stands in front of an image of Damavand's snow-capped profile.
It's also one of the planet's great trekking peaks -- a Kilimanjaro without the crowds and exorbitant price tag.
"Damavand presented the perfect balance of challenge and reward," says hiker Simon Bonner, who has climbed peaks on five continents, including Mount Damavand.
"Best of all, we had the mountain entirely to ourselves. Climbing it makes you feel like a bona fide pioneer."
A five-day summer ascent with Iran Mountain Zone costs from $655 per person; www.mountainzone.ir
4. Kashmir, India
Thirteen years after Bill Clinton endowed Kashmir with the world's worst tourism slogan, dubbing it "the most dangerous place on earth," things are looking up for India/Pakistan's problem state.
Despite intermittent bouts of violent protest and a monumental military presence, around 20,000 foreign tourists -- and upward of 500,000 Indians -- visit the Heavenly Valley each year.
Among the many attractions is Gulmarg, a fledgling ski resort located disconcertingly close to the infamous Indo-Pakistan Line of Control, one of the world's most disputed borders.
With only one ski lift, it presents a raw off-piste experience that can't claim to rival its Western counterparts for infrastructure.
But that lift is one of the highest in the world, depositing skiers on the 4,000-meter (13,000 feet) ridgeline of Mount Apharwat. From there, you can pick your line down slopes that benefit from regular dumps of virgin powder.
"Gulmarg is the only ski resort in the Greater Himalayas," says mountain guide Nick Parks, who has been leading tours here since 2006. "Stepping out of the gondola, skiers and snowboarders are spoiled for choice with runs up to 2,300 meters (7,500 feet) long."
A 10-day ski-tour of Gulmarg with Mountain Tracks costs around $2,960; www.mountaintracks.co.uk
5. Mount Nyiragongo, Congo
This one is out of the question at the moment.
Since November, when rebels entered the embattled city of Goma, signaling the latest chapter in eastern Congo's seemingly endless cycle of conflict and atrocity, Virunga National Park has been closed to visitors.
But the park will eventually reopen, enticing adventurous travelers back to its forested volcanic slopes to view its resident mountain gorillas.
There's more here than gorillas. Located deep within the summit of Mount Nyiragongo (3,470 meters/11,384 feet), just a few miles from Goma, is the world's largest lava lake, a roiling 250-meter wide cauldron that ranks among the most spectacular natural marvels on the planet.
Prior to the latest upheaval, tourists had been defying the volatile human backdrop and the volcano's hyperactive reputation (its last eruption, in 2002, engulfed 14,000 homes) to spend a night on the crater rim.
"I'd never climbed a mountain, let alone an active volcano," says Lucy Owen, a Londoner who decided to make the trip after an agent bent her ear in the Rwandan border town of Gisenyi.
"But it turned out to be one of the most memorable things I've ever done. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts, and hope you don't regret it."
For updates on the park's status, visit www.visitvirunga.org.