After escaping from the mud and sand, we adjust our plans and find an alternative route, driving towards Jargalant Khairkhan. It’s visible and very close, yet still twenty or more kilometers of unknown terrain lie ahead. Our only guide is the small traces on the satellite pictures. Kilometer by kilometer, we pass the road along Khar-Us Lake, then turn right along a stream. Segments of sand and heavy rock terrain suggest that 4WD with high clearance is essential here for all but the locals. Surprisingly, they often manage to come here with a Prius. After maybe ten or more kilometers, we try a car track to the left. Success! The time spent investigating satellite photos pays off. The tracks lead towards the mountain base. We pass one yurt, then another, and finally stop in front of a steeper slope. Obviously, we need to walk the rest. Almost ten kilometers to the summit await us, but it’s much closer than we expected.
We pitch our tent and start preparing for dinner. As we do, we see a motorbike with a man and a woman approaching. They are a nice, friendly couple from the nearest yurt. They speak Mongolian, and we speak English. Thankfully, some letters and hand signs are common in both languages, so we manage to keep the discussion going. We understand from them that the nearby large lake isn’t deep, making swimming impossible. We also discover they have five kids, so we gift them five packs of chocolate sweets. We attempt to clarify the route to the summit, but our shared vocabulary falls short. Regardless, the encounter proves to be warm and welcoming.
As standard, we wake up early in the morning, maybe half an hour before sunrise. After a quick breakfast, we’re on our way towards the summit. We are aware that the day ahead will be lengthy, yet our motivation is strong. Our journey begins with an ascent up the ridge right above our campsite, lasting about an hour. However, as we progress, it becomes apparent that the ridge route is more extensive than we initially thought. This realization prompts us to consider alternative plans. At the P50 bump, a crucial point, we pause to reassess our strategy and ultimately choose to descend several hundred meters back into the valley. Then we follow the stream up to the end of the valley. I think it was a good decision, because walking along the ridge with all its descents and reascents certainly would have added extra hours to our already long day.
Every next hour, the summit looks closer but never close enough to step on it. We keep walking on quite easy terrain; from time to time, we find shepherds’ trails, which help. At the end of the valley, we cross a small waterfall and climb a steeper slope. Then we’re back on the ridge, this time very close to the summit, maybe less than an hour away. There are a few patches of snow, but really nothing to worry about.
Standing on the snow-free summit, marked by a cairn, we are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views. The sky clears, enhancing the vast, rugged beauty of the landscape around us. We take a brief, well-deserved break to soak in the achievement and the serene beauty around us, before preparing for the equally demanding descent, carrying with us the memories of reaching this remote peak.
This is our 7th ultra peak in Mongolia, and the trip is already exceeding our expectations. We’re more than thousand kilometers away from Ulaanbaatar, but we still have a few more days left before our flight home. So, we’re heading towards another ultra peak, Otgon Tenger Uul, anticipating more adventure and breathtaking views in this remarkable journey.