In The Land Of The Gods

Mongolia is one of the highest countries in the world. Did you know that? Over 80% of the country is over 1000m. The whole region was lifted to very high levels by successive geological upheavals and as a result Mongolia is a deeply eroded mountainous country, with snow capped mountain ranges, forested slopes, open-high plateau steppe land…rolling into semi desert and then the desert in the south.

So. A lot of the country provides epic views. But if you’re looking for a view of views then you may want to head to western Mongolia. More specifically to Altai Tavan Bogd.

The Altai Tavan Bogd Mountains are the highest mountains in Mongolia, with Khuiten Uul (‘Cold Peak’) at 4374m (14,201 ft) being the highest. These permanently snow capped mountains form a bowl around the Pontanii Glacier. The other peaks are Nairamdal (‘Friendship’, 4180m), Malchin (‘herder, 4050m), Bürged (‘Eagle’, 4068m) and Olgii (‘Cradle’, 4050m).

If you’re not the type that’s in to ice axes and crampons but who dosen’t mind a vertical chalenge then you might want to consider Malchin Peak.

Malchin Peak is considered a non technical climb. That means there’s no special equipment required – just a prayer to the weather gods and a lot of puff and determination. Most climbers base themselves close to the 20km long Potanii glacier (the biggest of the glaciers in the Mongolian Altai and in the shadow of the ‘Five Holy’ peaks). It is a stunning setting from which to explore. It’s around a 7 to 10 hour return trip from the base camp depending on your speed. The classic quote that tells you “not to look at the whole mountain take it one piece at a time” is something you will come to understand.
 Russell, one of our 2016 guests, climbed Malchin Peak in early September. Together with his Mongolian EL trip assistant Oyuha. These are her images.

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And to finish on a personal note. Why visit?  For me, within this incredible region of cold permanently glaciated peaks, alpine lakes and hidden valleys you feel as if time is standing still – these vast and timeless landscapes will make you think and reconsider your priorities.