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A journey to Mongolia, 2000

If you don’t like looking at other people’s ’holiday snaps’ then stop right here! Beyond this point is a small selection of photographs from a trip to the remote western part of Mongolia. There are also a few from the tourist infested Gobi region in the south.

These pictures are a poor reflection of the amazing country that is Mongolia - The Land of Blue Sky. A mere photograph can’t hope to portray the sheer vastness of the country, its virtually endless wide-open spaces and varied wildlife. I advise you to go there before it’s too late. Meanwhile, I hope you will get a small taste of the country and its people from these pictures...

Expedition Members

  • Graham "D’ya feel compromised yet?" Taylor (leader)
  • Karl "Farquaut" Farkas (leader)
  • Lord Neville de Shulman, OBE
  • Brian "Crevasse Hound" Farmer
  • Chris "It looks just like the Lakes" Adams
  • Clare "Suicide Jockey" Gillespie
  • Anne "Are we having fun yet?" Connolly
  • Richard "Where’s the toilet tent?" Dale
  • Andy "Catalog Man" Clark

Three steps to paradise:
1 - Fly Aeroflot (business class) to Ulaan Baatar
2 - Locate sun drenched terrace
3 - Order ice cold glass of Chingis
Plenty of relics from the recent communist era can still be found around Ulaan Baatar, like this monument - Suk Baatar (Baatar means ’hero’, Ulaan Baatar translates as ’Red Hero’)
Mural inside Suk Baatar

As an alternative to beer on the terrace, you can take a 15km hike up to the top of Mt. Tsetseguun (2,256m).  Here are Clare and Baggi on the top.  Just try to avoid trespassing in the president’s private valley when you come down again.
Gers are common sights outside Ulaan Baatar.  Now is a good time to start getting used to Mongolian tea (salty) and Airag (feremented mare’s milk).  Personally I’ll stick to cold Chingis.
And this is the guy who milks the mares... every two hours throughout the day.

Big bird, stormy sky.  On the way to Hustain Nuruu national park
And this is why we went - a rare Przewalski horse (aka Takhi).  These became extinct in Mongolia but were reintroduced from zoo specimens.  Now there are over 120 in the park and an intensive breeding program is on-going.
On the way back we stop at a Ger for more Mongolian hospitaliTEA... just a taste of what is to come.  If only we’d known.
Carl in musical mode.  The group unanimously vote to return him to the Antarctic at the first opportunity.

We switch to Antonov mode for the flight to Olgii.  Despite warnings in ’Lonely Planet’, flying Mongolian Internation Airlines is not such an ordeal after all.  They go up, they come down.  In between you get to eat Russian chocolate from comrade Cadbury.
Olgii from the air.
Is this a Mongolian car park?
Kids in the market place in Olgii.
Rodeo Drive... Olgii style.
More kids.

Jeep mode in the early evening.  On the road, heading west out of Olgii.
Camels beside the road.
Civilised mode - pre dinner drinks before...

Another day, another Ger. Time to stock up on food for Base Camp.
... hitting the local Ger restaurant.  Thanks Sandergash.
Shopping... hmm... this one looks reasonably fresh.
Flossie!  Looks like Graham hasn’t quite got the hang of this yet.  For a start he hasn’t got his wellies on.  Is there a welshman in the house?
Flossie’s a bit tied up at the moment.

Back on the road.
Monglian military post in Tavan Bogd national park.
More tea vicar?
Granny’s turn to babysit...
... while everyone else turns out to look at the strange western tourists.
Don’t fancy yours much.
Golden Eagle. Trained and used for hunting.
Don’t mess with me.
This falcon is worth $25,000 in Saudi Arabia.  A good wage in Mongolia is $40 per month.

The end of the road and a change of mode.  The gear gets to ride on a camel, we get to walk.  Wonder who has the better deal?
Graham’s attempts to restore credibility, after a navigational error almost got the entire group arrested in Ulaan Baatar, were severely hampered by his Aussie dress sense.
Brian gets his first real sight of the mountains.  Already his crevasse hound senses are fully alert as he contemplates the glacier ahead.
No base camp is complete without its own Ger. Lucky we brought our own plus a full crew of Ger builders.  A Ger can be taken down, packed on four camels, moved and rebuilt in just a few hours.

The first objective, Mulchin Peak (4,037m).
Resting on the Mulchin ridge - extensive scree slopes make this a pretty hard climb for most of us.
On the summit of Mulchin.
Andy on the summit of Mulchin (4,037m).
Overnight snowfall at base camp, just to make tomorrow’s trip up the glacier a little more interesting.
Richard searches the horizon for signs of the toilet tent.

Big Mountain Day.It’s 6AM and minus 15 degC.  We’ve been on the glacier for four hours and we haven’t even started climbing a mountain yet.  The sun is just coming up.
Roped up on the glacier... we’ll all go together when we go.
Carl waits while we choose mountains.  Carl and Richard go for the big one, Khuiten (4,374m) the rest of us take the tourist trail on Mt. Nairandal (4,082m).
Chris on the summit slope of Nairandal.
Brian (left) and Graham having lunch on the summit of Nairandal.
Brian: "I think this will probably be my last peak".
This pole marks the junction of the borders of Mongolia, China and Russia.
Andy on the summit of Nairandal... is that China or Russia?
Back at base camp, the Nairandal party intact despite Brians numerous attempts at crevasse exploration.  Quote from Graham: "If you didn’t stamp so hard on the snow bridges perhaps you wouldn’t keep falling through".

Breakfast al fresco, Khuiten in the background.
A Russian border post.  Complete with Chadharma, a camel herder.
Clare and Carl explore the glacier.
Graham in flashback mode to a previous personal epic expedition.
Clare, the suicide jockey, experiments with a new mode.  Helicopter medivac is not required this time.
Packing up base camp, one Ger into four camels will go...
... honest.
Final group photograph before leaving base camp.
A final look back at the mountains and glacier.  Mulchin to the right.
Clare examining ancient rock paintings.  These date back several thousand years and stretch for a distance of 15km.

Trying out for the Mongolian Olympic football team.
Meanwhile, here’s some more of the family...
... and some more...
...and here’s the entire family.
More nomads encountered on the way back to Olgii.
In horseback mode...
... and dressed to kill.
Mongolian throat singers at the cultural display in Ulaan Baatar.

Contortionists... don’t try this at home.
More culture.

Antonov mode revisited for a quick trip down to the tourist traps of the Gobi region.
Bayan Zag - The best place to look for dinosaur eggs.
A Gobi lizard.
First sight of Hongoryn Els, a river of sand 200 km long and 20 km wide.
Clare at Hongoryn Els... looks like it’s coming this way!
Sand, sand and more sand... time to go home.

Relief map of Mongolia.
©Terranova 2009 ©AndyClark.eu 2009
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