The Mongolia team has made the jump from Olgii in Western Mongolia back to the capital, Ulaanbataar. We are enjoying the cosmopolitan feel of the city and a final cultural event today - visiting a 13th century recreation of Chinggus (Ghengis) Khan’s kingdom and palace. Tomorrow morning we all catch flight home to our love ones.
Thanks for following along!!
Many miles of dusty roads brought us out of the mountains and back into civilization this afternoon. The small town of Olgii, population 30,000, which felt like a isolated outpost last week now feels like the big city with amenities such as hot showers and the occasional strip of pavement.
For dinner we were treated to a traditional Khazak feast with a performance on the dombor, a two stringed instrument similar to a guitar. Despite a lack of physical activity today, everyone seems a bit tired and we are all headed to bed early to get ready for our flight back to Ulaanbataar tomorrow morning.
There is nothing more fundamentally Mongolian then riding a horse. Today we got to try our hands at the national mode of travel as we exited our base camp via the Tsagaan Gol Valley on horseback. Five hours of trotting, cantering and the occasional gallop alongside a beautiful river brought us to a small ger camp in the base of the valley.
In the States we call them yurts, but here in Mongolia the round semi-permanent tents made of felt are called gers. Each summer, when the nomadic people of the area move their herds- thousands of sheep, goats, yaks, horses and camels- to the upper valleys to feast on green grass, they set up small ger camps and live out in the open.
Tonight part of the team is staying in tents and part of the team have elected to join our hosts in their ger for the night. Even though they don’t know us and we don’t share any common language, these kind people have welcomed us into their home and made us comfortable in every way possible. Despite the fact this might be highly unusual at home, this is quite normal in Mongolia and another reason to love the hospitality of this culture.
RMI Guide Eric Frank and team
Today was a rest day for the Mongolia Expedition. After five days off constant movement a little down time was well deserved.
We filled the hours by drying and organizing our gear, hiking to a nearby meadow filled with wild flowers and napping in the afternoon heat.
Things were low key and each team member enjoyed personal time.
A beautiful sunset capped off the evening and tomorrow we will begin our trek back to Ulaanbataar with fond memories of our time in this area.
Hello. This is Eric Frank calling from the summit of Mt. Khuiten in Mongolia. It’s 9:30 in the morning and I’m happy to report that this is our third summit of the week and everyone made it to the top of Khuiten. We are having a pretty wonderful day. We’re going to head down from here to our high camp and continue on to base camp later this afternoon. We are looking forward to a round of feasting and a good night’s sleep tonight. Thanks for following along. We’ll check in soon. Bye.
RMI Guide Eric Frank calls in from the Mt. Khuiten summit!
Last night’s unanticipated storm fizzled out a bit after midnight, but the high winds stayed around and buffeted our camp through the night. We woke up at 2:30 am to see if there was any chance of climbing, but heavy gusts made it clear that wasn’t an option.
Instead we stayed in bed until almost 8:00 am this morning, only climbing out to hear water for coffee. After a quick breakfast we decided to go on a walk and try for another peak. By 12:30 pm today we were standing on top of Naramdal Peak at 13,405’. The coolest part of Naramdal is that it is the convergence of Mongolia, China and Russia, so depending how you stand you can be in two or all three countries at once.
We are back in camp now, relaxing and resting. If the weather is good in the morning, we will try to climb Khuiten, then descend to Basecamp. If the weather is not good we will probably get packed up and go down earlier in the morning to avoid the worst of the bad weather that is forecasted for Saturday evening and Sunday.
Today was unexpectedly a big move day. After climbing yesterday, the team was planning to take a rest day and recoup, but the forecast had different plans for us.
After looking at upcoming weather and counting the days available to us we decided to move up to High Camp and try to utilize the current high pressure window.
Walking up the glacier was rather uneventful and we made it to our camp at 12,000ft in 5.5 hours. When we arrived the wind picked up and clouds started to build. As we eat dinner it is currently hailing outside and we can hear thunder in the distance. So much for utilizing the good weather!!
We’re not sure what to expect tomorrow and the forecast doesn’t seem reliable, so we’re just going to wake up and see how things look.
RMI Guide Eric Frank
Hello, this is Eric Frank, good afternoon. I’m calling from the summit of Malchin Peak, here in Mongolia 13,200’. It is a perfect day up here, our whole team is sitting on top, beautiful weather, light winds just enjoying the view of all the mountains surrounding us. So this is the first peak of the trip, hopefully not the last. Thank you so much for following along.
Eleven miles is a long way to walk. Today, however, it didn’t feel very far as stunning vista after vista distracted us from the distance and the hours seemed to fly by. Eventually we made our way to 10,000ft here in the edge of the Potaniin Glacier and established a basecamp that will serve as our home for the next few days.
A highlight of the day was only shouldering small day packs with a few jackets and a bottle of water since a troupe of camels carried our duffels and heavy group gear for us. Climbing in places with beasts of burden may spoil our future views on carrying big backpacks.
For now, the team is laying down and trying to get a big night of sleep. The weather forecast looks good for the next few days, so if we wake to clear skies we may go climb one of the local rocky peaks.
RMI Guide Eric Frank
Today turned into a big game of hurry up and wait for the Mongolia climbing team. We started the morning with a 4am launch from our hotel to make it to the airport for a 5:50am flight. Unfortunately high winds kept us grounded until nearly 11am, so we drank coffee, took turns walking around the terminal and did our best to rest in preparation of the upcoming climbs.
Once we were in the air, the flight was a non-stop glimpse into the varied terrain of Western Mongolia. From turquoise blue lakes to dark green hills of conifers, this place is breathtaking in every regard.
After a quick lunch we boarded a trusty Russian van and made the five-hour drive out to the edge of the Tavan Bogd Park. We sat so much today that everyone feels fully rested and ready for a week of physical movement starting tomorrow!!