Lenin was out and Louis Vuitton in. Ulaan Baator 2013.
This was one of those trips that could warrant a book by itself. I’ll focus on one particular conundrum as it illustrates wonderfully the vagaries of skiing in places like Mongolia. If you want guarantees, go to Val d’Isère.
We travel all the way from the western Mongolian town of Olgii which is a two-day drive in Russian UAZ ‘Bukhanka’ vans. I’m with the same support team I had in 2007 so it’s nice to be with old friends.
Finally, at 1630 on the second day we arrive at Nowhere. Nowhere is the place we left the vans last time, loading all of our equipment on camels for the 11km walk and skin to base camp. It’s barren and bleak, just like last time but this time there is nothing at Nowhere. Most importantly there are no camels. ‘Where are the camels?’ I ask. ‘There are no camels’. I give Sandargash an incredulous look; without camels everything is for nothing. She shakes her head ‘no camels’.
We’re standing outside the vans and the team are all looking at me, awaiting my response. I digest the enormity of the problem. Why did they wait until now to tell me? Why are there no camels? How are we going to transport close on two tonnes of kit 11km to BC (a camel will carry 250kg, up to 400kg if conditions are good and the distance short)? Folks have paid a lot of money and we’ve all come along way and now how can we achieve anything? What can we do?