Transmongolia – Part Two: Hitching a Ride

Transmongolia: Part Two – Click above to watch video after the jump

After gaining my bearings in Ulaanbaatar and making a few friends over rocket propelled grenades, I set off for Ölgii – a dusty city of roughly 29,000 people and the capital of the remote province of Bayan-Olgii Aimag.

From Ulaanbaatar, the flight to Ölgii Airport was just 2 1/2 hours in a noisy Saab 340B. Flying over the wide expanses of the Gobi desert and Altai mountains, it was difficult to imagine that I’d be traversing everything that was passing below me in just under a week.

Joined by Mel, a journalist from an English newspaper, I arrived in Ölgii without much of a plan; to get a ride into town and hope to hitch a ride. But in order to find a team to ride with, the only thing we could do was sit by the side of the town’s one main road and wait – hoping that whoever came along would be willing to pick up two outsiders carrying cameras and notepads.

So, we waited. We wandered markets and sat by the side of the road. After just a few hours in the sun, we were relieved and exhilarated to see a convoy of four brightly painted cars and one ambulance heading in our direction. We were no longer lost in the Gobi; we had found the chariots that would (hopefully) take us across Mongolia.

Transmongolia – Part Two: Hitching a Ride

Luckily for Mel & I, we quickly made friends with a team dubbed Party of Five; consisting of a team of three (one member had dropped out) friends from Australia and their mutual friend from England. They were proudly commandeering an old Ford ambulance that they had named ‘Olive’ – a reference to the lovely interior paint job in the back of the ‘ambo’, which had served as their home for the past several weeks. With just enough room for two more people and our bags, we hopped in and got on the road; eager to begin our journey.

It was short lived; only a few kilometers down the road, we encountered our first breakdown – a car that had left Ölgii before us had lost the use of one of its tires after slicing through the rim of the wheel. The unforgiving nature of the dirt tracks that served as highways here, suggested that we’d see many more breakdowns in the coming days. The dust, rocks, and bumps would surely put everyone to the test. So after a quick push to turn it the broken vehicle around for towing, the convoy packed up and headed out to scout for the evening’s camp site.

Finding the perfect spot wasn’t very complicated; we pulled off to the side of the road, looked for a flat place to pitch our tents, and set up camp for the first night in the wilderness of Mongolia.

For more information about the Mongol Rally, including how to sign up for the 2012 rally, visit the Adventurist’s website.

Transportation was made possible by the scholars & gentlemen at the Adventurists. No editorial content or opinions were guaranteed, and nor was anyone’s safety or hygiene.

Adventurer trekking solo across Mongolia

British adventurer Ripley Davenport is in the middle of a spectacular solo journey. One that if he finishes, will put him the record books for the longest solo and unsupported trek in history. But before he’s done, he’ll face harsh weather conditions, inhospitable terrain, and one of the most demanding routes ever undertaken by man.

Ripley’s adventure is dubbed the Mongolia 2010 Expedition. His plan is to travel alone for 1700 miles across the vast, open wilderness of Mongolia, a country that boasts one of the lowest population densities on Earth. Along the way, he’ll travel on foot across the Eastern Mongolian Steppe, through the Gobi Desert, and over the Altai Mountains, while pulling all of his gear and supplies behind him in a specially designed cart that is the lifeline for his trek.

The expedition initially began back in April, but just three days in, the cart broke down on the harsh terrain. Undaunted however, Ripley returned home, made some important modifications to the design, and returned to the trail once again in late May. Since that time, he has completed the trek over the Mongolian Steppe, and is now nearing the end of the Gobi. According to his latest blog posts, Ripley has entered the foothills of the Altai Mountains, which will present an entirely new set of impediments to his progress.

At the moment, the former British Army officer is roughly halfway through his expedition, with plenty of challenges yet to overcome. But his spirits are high, he is focused and determined, and after more than 40 days on the trail, he is confident in his skills and equipment. The redesigned cart is working well, and is vital to Ripley achieving his goal of going solo and unsupported. Traveling by himself, he has the solo part well covered, but in order to achieve “unsupported” status he needs to finish the expedition without resupply or outside aid of any kind. His cart not only carries his gear, but also his food and water too, and without it, the journey wouldn’t be possible at all.

Check in on Ripley’s blog for regular updates from the field as he shares his adventure with the rest of us.

[Photo credit: Ripley Davenport]

The Gobi March begins today

More than 150 of the world’s top ultra-runners have assembled in the remote city of Turban, located in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in western China, to take part in one of the most challenging foot races on Earth. The event is known as The Gobi March, and over the course of the next week, the competitors will endure six grueling stages through one of the harshest environments on the planet.

Each day this week the runners will head out on a course designed to test their strength and stamina. They’ll be required to carry all of the gear they’ll need for the day, including food and water, while navigating between desert checkpoints. When they reach the finish line for each stage, they’ll camp for the night, regaining their strength for the next day, when they’ll do it all again.

The first stage of the race takes part today over a 32km (20 mile) course that runs from the village of Gaoyachun through a remote valley in the Tian Shan Mountains, whose peaks will serve as a dramatic backdrop to the day. Temperatures are expected to climb above 100ºF, and the dry trail conditions will be an indicator of what is to come in the days ahead.

The top runners will finish the race with a combined time for all six stages in the 25 hour range, but the majority of the competitors will be much further back than that. The race is a test of endurance however, and just reaching the finish line is a major accomplishment for all involved.

[Photo credit:]