Mongolia Maps & Facts
Khuiten and Climbing
1956 First Climbed by Russian Pieskariow and 12 Mongolians
1967 A joint Russian- Mongolian team completed a number of first ascents including Malcyzn Chajchan and Birkut Peak.
1992 E. Webster, J. Freeman Atwood and L. Griffin pioneered a new route on Khuiten’s South Ridge.
Located on the border of three nations, Khuiten stands atop Mongolia, the Dzungarain Basin of China and Russia’s Altai Siberia. The Tawang Bogd range is part of the larger Altai range and is nearly the size of the French Alps. The Mongolian portion of the range has nine 4000 meter peaks and many lesser peaks. As many of the peaks are unclimbed there is great opportunity for the adventurous mountaineer. It is certainly one of the most remote and inaccessible regions on the planet.
Mongolia’s self styled Olympics is a three-day festival which takes place in early July and coincides with the anniversary of the 1921 revolution. Naadam, short for “the three manly sports”, is a national holiday and celebration. Attendees watch competitions in archery, horse back riding and Mongolian’s favorite sport, wrestling. (Champions are treated as national heroes, with wrestling ranks known as champion, lion, elephant, and bird) Naadam opens with a huge parade, somewhat military styled with many soldiers dressing in Chinggis-era style clothing. The festival is raucous, lively and certainly the biggest celebration on the Mongolian calendar. By the third day, many of the locals have had a bit too much to drink, and day four is something of a national recovery day.
Note on History
Most of Mongolia’s history is comprised of the ebb and flow of different national factions conquering parts of what is modern day Mongolia. The great Mongolian Empire of Chinggis Khan and family reached their height in 1280 A.D. and is considered the largest land Empire in world history. More recently, the Russians and Chinese traded off dominating Mongolia with a Democratic Government being elected in 1991. This new government is credited for increasing tourism that is quickly becoming a significant element in the Mongolian economy. Even with the tumultuous history, the Mongolian people have maintained incredible amount of national pride and are extremely hospitably by nature.
The Kazakhs of Western Mongolia
A good portion of our expedition takes place in Western Mongolia, home to ethnic Kazakhs. This region borders on the new republic of Kazakhstan. The Kazakh people make up about 6% of the Mongolia population, but they remain a dominant culture in the Western Province of Bayan Olgii. Like other parts of Mongolia, most of the population are semi-nomadic herders, living in gers (tents), raising sheep, yaks and horses. The predominant religion is Islamic, but in practice Islam here takes on a more spiritual interpretation and is less socially conservative than some Islamic nations. We would venture to say they are the most hospitable and giving people we have encountered.
Many of the Kazakh people are still adamant falconers ( in the winter they hunt with golden eagles) . Capturing eagles as chicks, the eagles are trained to hunt fox, wolf, rabbit and Marmot. Most of the hunting is done in the fall, as the falconer will free the eagle and follow on horseback. Once the eagle grabs hold of a fox, the falconer must pry the eagle away from the catch in an attempt to save the fox pelt.
Gers are traditional homes found throughout much of Mongolia. Made from felt and wood cross hatch, these large round shelters are moved with great ease. Each ger has a number of beds and a stove in the center where most of the cooking is done. The ceiling has a retractable roof that can open and close, weather permitting. Floors may remain open so that you sit on grass or covered with rugs. As the cold weather approaches, additional layers of felt are added to the exterior walls.
Formal Name: Republic of Mongolia
Local Name: Mongol Uls
Local Formal Name: Mongol Uls
Visa Info: Passport required for US Citizens. Visa not required for a stay of less than 90 days. Tourist and business travelers may be asked to show letter of invitation or a letter from a Mongolian company, and onward/return ticket. Mongolian Embassy: www.mongolianembassy.us