This day was super exotic because we were skiing with no snow…. Something none of us will do in the Alps…Going skiing with trekking boots on?
Day 6-7: From Tavan Bodg to Tsanbagarov
After 6 days in the Tavan Bodg mountains we were all pleased to go somewhere else. We could climb the highest Mongolian peak, Mount Khuiten, the Malchin, explored different valleys and experienced the very bad weather of Mongolia. There are other peaks to climb of course but the conditions couldn’t allow our group to climb them safely.
Because of the strong wind, it was too icy to think about ascending with skis and way to dangerous to ski down on ice… That is why reaching the guest house was like the start of another trip. But what we were all waiting for is a possible hot shower in Olgï!!
The evening at the guest house was super nice. We had some lights to play cards and talk for a while at night and we all slept in the same room hoping that the snores won’t be too load…
The next morning we loaded the 4×4 trucks under the snow. The weather again changed during the night and winds were blowing making the temperatures very cold. The beginning of the driving was terrible for Mamat and I because we were both car sick… We had to stop couple times to take fresh air… Our group made fun of us, the 2 mountain guides sick when we leave the mountains… 7 h later we were in Olgï. We will sleep at one of our driver’s house. Olgï is the biggest city in the western part of Mongolia. Nothing special, very windy place. First thing we organize is a trip to the public bath to take a shower. Only a couple of house has water supply in Olgi and probably none have hot water. The public bath is a big building where you pay for a hot shower and it is pretty crowdie since it is the only one in the city. Shower was good, so good!! Going to expeditions in remote and wild place makes you appreciate some little things like electricity, hot shower,… that are more than normal in more modern places. We just forgot sometimes how lucky we are…
Shower and then supermarket. We all wanted to celebrate our success in the Tavan Bodg with some beers. I was more up to some red wine. What a mistake!!! I picked 3 bottle without really checking what was written on the sticker thinking there are no reason that it would be a “at least bad wine”. No flavour of the wine… grape juice? Something between the 2, terrible! Good thing we still have some beers! Diner was lot of fun again full of laughs between us. Super good group!
Day8: drive to Tsanbagarov BC
Reaching BC and this part are up to the drivers. Safe spot for BC with some good stuff doable for us the next day. This part is completely ours.
200km approximately again with the 4×4 Russian van should take us to the base of Tsanbagarov. Mouguy told us that we will drive to BC. No walking, no camel. We want to try to go somewhere nobody went before with the trucks. One truck went further on his own to check, came back saying no. We told the drivers that it was no problem for us even if you knew there will be less snow on the south face to ski. We will adapt our climb to the conditions. Mamat and I want to traverse Tsanbagarov instead of climbing up & down by the same route. Actually Tsanbagarov is a big mountain with a couple of peaks all close to each other. The highest is 4204m high. We felt that there won’t be lots of snow on the south side and we ask Mouguy and the drivers to try to find a way on the north side. A little bit of an adventure for them and for us too. Adventure because none of them and none of us knew if it was possible to get to the north side of the mountain. Adventure because we (drivers and Mamat & me) had to explore the way to see if it was possible. Getting closer to the mountain we saw that we were right, snow was super high on the mountain and slopes looked icy. Not super good for skiing…
Arriving next to the north side of the mountain we stopped for lunch and started to discuss with the drivers. We felt right the way that the drivers were a little scared to go further: steep road, maybe an icy river to cross and not sure that we could find a good spot with water for BC. Mamat and I did not need to talk to each other we had the same reaction: it didn’t worth pushing the drivers, we will go to the other side, the south one to set BC. And from there, we will see what we can do or not.
Actually the drive was super nice. The road was much better than the one to go to the Tavan Bogd and landscapes very different and more coloured. Less mountains, wider open spaces with lots of animals (yaks, sheep, goats) with farmers.
Trucks stopped at around 3000m high in a middle of a meadow. Wonderful! But no snow at all… nothing!?! In 15 min, we decided to hike a smaller mountain above BC with Mamat to be able to have a better view of our options. We asked the group to set up the tents and we started hiking. 1 h later we turned around. The view was incredible with the light of the sunset on BC. No snow up to probably 3500m. We will walk with skis and ski boots on our backpacks until we find some snow. Then hopefully reach the summit with skis on and ski the north side as low as we can and walk down where the trucks could pick us up. That was our plan. I said before it was an exotic trip. This day was super exotic because we were skiing with no snow…. Something none of us will do in the Alps… When we explained that to the group they all made fun of our plan, going skiing with trekking boots on? Are the guides kidding? Anyway there were no other options and the nice thing was to traverse the mountains climbing the south face and skiing down the north face. Mouguy assured us they would drive to the other side to pick us up. I gave him a radio to be able to communicate but I didn’t know if it will work. Anyway, we arranged a meeting at 4pm the next day.
The next morning we had breakfast at 6am to have more time to climb the Tsanbagarov. This time, no flat glacier before hiking, no snow neither… The weather was wonderful. We started hiking with all the gear on our bags, a very different physical exercise than what we did before. For some of us, it was easier for other it was harder. Anyway, we started slowly and we managed to reach the snow slopes within a couple of hours at about 3500m. Time to get changed and put our ski boots on with skis. Yeaaaah!!! Our bags will be lighter! At this elevation, because Tsanbagarov is a very isolated mountain we started feeling the wind. Nothing bad, but definitely getting chillier. The view was just incredible with green meadows and in the very background some other snowing peaks, very very beautiful. Very different from the Tavan Bogd, very …. Exotic!!!
We were in the mountains for about 10 days now and I could see that some people were tired, they were slower. Mamat was leading with the fastest and I stayed behind making a different track for the slowest. Being 2 mountains on trips abroad like this one is really good for everybody. For us (Mamat & I) because we can talk, we can exchange about our feelings before taking any decision and because it is safer too of course: 1 in front, one at the back. Also for the group because in case we need to split for any reason it is possible. It is more flexible; it takes out the pressure on the slower people…