This is an epic winter crossing of the Horidal Saridag, a wild and magnificent mountain range and Special Protected Area in Northern Mongolia. We’ll spend six days traversing the mountain range, including crossing three passes, and taking some time to ascend to ridge line overlooks or easy summits.
This is a self supported expedition, so you’ll be expected to carry your own gear, while the guides haul a share of the group kit in pulk sleds. We sleep in lightweight tipi tents heated with collapsible wood stoves. Eventually we reach our rendezvous with the support jeeps and drive back over the frozen lake.
The terrain is well suited to winter travel on backcountry cross-country skis, although we may have to hike in dry areas with limited snow. Mostly we’ll be following valleys and frozen river beds, while actively avoiding any potential avalanche terrain. Snow shoes are an alternative to xc skis, and snowshoers will probably be able to travel at equivalent speed to the skiers. We’ll also be recording wolverine tracks and collecting scat for ongoing research and monitoring. This expedition is based on a 3 week exploratory trip that Andy Parkinson undertook in 2015.
This itinerary runs on demand for small private groups, and can be modified to suite your interests and time frame. Please inquire for pricing and details.
Day 1 Arrive Ulaanbaatar. Overnight at Hotel. If time allows we’ll make a trip to the market to pick up Mongolian winter kit like felt lined boots or fur hats.
Day 2 Drive to Hovsgol. Begin the drive to Hovsgol on the newly paved road. Unfortunately the domestic airlines don’t fly regularly in winter, so most likely we’ll have to drive. Overnight in Hotel en route
Day 3 Arrive at Hatgal, Lake Hovsgol. Last leg of the drive. Stay with a local family and organize our kit and supplies.
Day 4 Start the expedition. Drop off at the trail head and climb the Ulkhun Pass into the Horidal mountains.
Day 5-8 Skiing and trekking through the mountains. Self-supported crossing the Horidal range, including taking a day to explore side valley or ascend to ridge line look out or easy summit.
Day 9 Ski out of the mountains to rendezvous with the jeeps. Ski out of the mountains checking for wolverine tracks and sign on the way. Meet the jeeps and drive to the nearby village or herders winter camp for the night.
Day 10 Drive out across the frozen lake. Drive back over Jigleg Pass, and down Lake Hovsgol stopping in Hatgal for lunch. Continue drive to Muron. Overnight in local hotel, and no doubt a few well earned beers, and hopefully a hot shower.
Day 11 Return journey to Ulaanbaatar. Drive back to Ulaanbaatar.
Day 12 Departure. Farewell and transfer to the airport for departure.
Expedition cost estimated at $4450 per person
This trip runs on request for small join-in or private groups depending on the level of interest (not many people do this kind of thing!). We'll provide a final quote based on the number of adventurers .
Price is quoted per person. Indicative price based on a minimum 2 and maximum 4 participants
We should emphasize that this is an expedition based on actual experience, and hence the itinerary is purposely not over ambitious yet still challenging. Simply to camp out and travel in these conditions is an accomplishment.This trip only runs if we have sufficient demand and we’ll fix the dates only after receiving serious enquiries.
This is a serious winter expedition into remote wilderness. Group size is limited to four. Participants should have a good level of fitness and a keen sense of adventure. Ideally you will have some winter camping experience, mountaineering and/or cross country skiing experience. You also need to be prepared to invest in personal equipment including -30 rated sleeping bag, cold weather clothing, and suitable skis and boots. A complete kit list and recommendations will be provided. You will be required to carry your personal gear, including sleeping bag and a share of the food. With the right equipment it should be possible to keep loads to 15 kg. Ski days will typically cover from 15-20 km depending on the terrain. You should be aware that we will be in very remote areas where rescue may be extremely difficult in case of emergency, and it could take several days before reaching hospital. You must take out travel insurance that will cover the activities on this trip, and including helicopter evacuation.
The camp style is simple and lightweight, sleeping in lightweight tipi tents heated with collapsible titanium wood-stoves. We’ll sleep 3 – 4 to a tipi, and congregate in one of the tents for meals. The guides will do most of the cooking but you’ll be expected to help out with some of the camp tasks, like fetching fire wood. The stoves make the tents cozy for evenings and mornings, and let us dry out socks and gloves, we let the fire go out once we are tucked up in our sleeping bags. Some of the group equipment will be hauled by the guides using pulk sleds: but you’ll be expected to carry your personal gear including sleeping bag and some share of group kit and food. Meals and snacks in the backcountry will be simple high calorie expedition type food. In the villages we’ll eat typical Mongolian dishes including huwshuur (deep fried meat pies) and buuz (steamed dumplings).
Temperatures have been known to fall below -50C in the Darhad Valley. Based on our previous experience we think the best time to do this trip is from mid-February to mid-March when the weather is still very cold. Later than this day time temperatures can rise above freezing and make for poor skiing conditions, melt water can also start to form on Lake Hovsgol by the end of March, and this is our main highway in and out. Expect night time temperatures below -30C, possibly as low as -40C/ -40F in February. Day time temperatures won’t be as extreme and anything above -20C will feel quite manageable. In the case of an extreme cold snap we will adjust the itinerary to ensure we are all warm and comfortable.