Saturday, 12 July 2008

Rocks and Rolling

Waking up to an amazing view we packed up and headed south east towards the city of Alti. This is a small detour, but the scenery is supposed to be amazing and we have not been disappointed. We all agree that none of us have been to any other countries that continually make you say ‘woow‘. The colours of the mountains, the shapes, everything is so alien and different to anything else we have ever seen, it is hard to describe.

We arrived in our first Mongolian city at about lunchtime and managed to get some supplies and a very nice lunch, having enlisted the help of a friendly local. The ‘city’ was not very big and a bit dirty so we headed off again to make some miles south. After a few hours we saw a snow-capped mountain poking out of the desert and decided it would be fun to climb.

Using our favoured climbing method we drove up as far as we could. Roxy is amazing and we took her up some of the steepest stuff yet, and through some serious bolder fields, but even she could only make it up to about 2,700 meters. We decided to camp in a small river valley at this height and climb the rest in the morning.

Morning came and being us we managed to head off at about 11.30. It took nearly 4 hours to climb the 4,000m peak - it seems there is less air up there making life a bit harder.

Spike and Pete approaching the summit

Team Latitude at the Top

The climb was fairly technical in places and I think we all managed to scare ourselves sufficiently to make the summit very satisfying. The way down was a little different and involved a scree run descending 300m, which we managed to come down in just four minutes. The whole climb was great fun, and we even managed a couple of hours driving in the evening.

We camped by a nice river, and left this morning after a refreshing wash in the meltwater. Today we managed a good distance on a really good track. It would appear that 60 mph is easy if the track is good enough, so I guess no roads really is better than bad roads. This evening we headed up in to the mountains early to have a good few hours chilling before the sun went down.
There turned out to be a small stream at the base of the mountains and after a couple of minutes driving along it we found a good crossing point. Dave got out and declared that the stream was quite deep, but firm and if we hit it at an angle with only one wheel in at a time we should be fine. Three wheels cleared it with out much problem, the fourth however decided not to play ball and sunk up to the chassis. It turns out we are back in ‘getting stuck’ territory.

Out came Harry (the winch) and what we thought would be a simple pull out.
Unfortunately Roxy decided to do some bank surfing and we decided to stop when the angle was bad enough for Dave to wash his face in the stream from the driver’s seat.

From here we had little option but to carry on winching as if we had taken the tension off the winch she would have rolled over. We hammered the highlift jack in to the ground and secured a rope to the roof rack to attempt to hold her if she went.

Dave then continued to rev the engine from the passenger seat (to power the winch) while Spike and I surfed the high side to add a little more weight to stop the roll, and off we went.

This time fortunately she decided that surfing was not fun any more and climbed the bank with minimal fuss. So now we are camped up and looking forward to a couple more days of the most stunning mountains we have ever seen.

- Peter

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