Mongolia Trek & Climb With Alpine Ascents
Our 2019 expedition saw success on all peaks and we look forward to the same guiding team in 2020. Truly a fantastic journey to a rapidly changing land!
The trip was excellent! Our guide was a delight, and his flexibility and interpersonal skills greatly contributed to an enjoyable experience for a team that was diverse in mountaineering experience and age. In addition to the superb leadership of our head guide, the in-country logistical support and guides were terrific. – Recent Mongolia Climber
In Mongolia, one is quickly swept away by the endless green steppes, the heartiness of the Kazakh nomads, and the Altai Mountains’ rolling landscapes. Mt. Khüiten, straddling the corners of three countries (Russia, China, and Mongolia), beckons the adventurous. Alpine Ascents has been visiting Mongolia for 17 years with successful summits each season. Our 2018 Mongolia expedition with seven climbers saw 100% summit success with Brian Houle at the helm. Our 2019 team also reached the summit under Brian’s leadership.
We look forward to similar success in 2020. Each year, small teams are left speechless as we travel to Base Camp on dirt roads peppered with migratory herders. This journey is one of the last of its kind on the planet, and we are exposed to a way of life that may soon be extinct as modern life permeates even the remotest of regions.
We travel by Russian made UAZ vans to the Altai Range, a gorgeous journey that crosses a golden, vast, and barren landscape with rainbows in the horizon, drifting further into one of the last remote regions on earth. This remarkable journey is punctuated by the gentle hospitality of the Kazakh nomads.
Khüiten Peak (14,350 ft./4,375 m)
Malchin Peak (13,245 ft./4,050 m) (trekking peak)
Our expedition takes place in the Western province of Bayan-Ölgii, in the Tavan Bogd Range. Here we visit with nomadic shepherds, then head to the snowcapped, glaciated peaks of the Altai. Geographically, much of the highlands are defined by green pastures, with fox, bear, lynx, and falcons inhabiting the lower regions. The Mongolian countryside possesses an array of indigenous flora and fauna, including yaks, horses, sheep, and Bactrian double-humped camels. Our expedition is supported by camels and we camp throughout the countryside. We visit and overnight in “gers” (traditional felt-covered nomadic homes). With luck, we may interact with traditional eagle hunters.
All expeditions begin in the capital, Ulaan Baatar. Raw, exciting, and diverse, Ulaan Baatar stands as a border to the great expanse of the Gobi Desert. Home to the infamous Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, Ulaan Baatar is a noted Buddhist capital that merges traditional monasteries with a new democratic spirit. After visiting the museums and monasteries, we fly across the country to the Altai region of Western Mongolia and begin our expedition in the land of Kazakh nomads and caravans. This unique Mongolian journey is designed for the adventurous spirit.
Khüiten and Climbing
- 1956 — Mt. Khüiten was 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 Khüitens South Ridge.
Located on the border of three nations, Khüiten stands atop Mongolia, the Dzungarain Basin of China, and Russia’s Altai Siberia. The Tavang 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 4,000 m peaks and many lesser peaks. As many of the peaks are unclimbed, there are great opportunities 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 that takes place in early July and coincides with the anniversary of the 1921 revolution. Naadam (“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 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.
Many of the Kazakh people are still adamant eagle hunters(in the winter they hunt with golden eagles). Capturing eagles as chicks, the Kazakh people train eagles to hunt fox, wolf, rabbit, and marmot. Most of the hunting is done in the fall, as the hunter will free the eagle and follow on horseback. Once the eagle grabs hold of a fox, the hunter must pry the eagle away from the catch in an attempt to save the fox pelt.
Note on History
Most of Mongolia’s history is composed 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 have traded off dominating Mongolia, with a democratic government elected in 1991. This new government is credited for increasing tourism, which is quickly becoming a significant element of the Mongolian economy. Even with the tumultuous history, the Mongolian people have maintained an incredible amount of national pride and are extremely hospitable 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 4.5% percent of the Mongolia population, but they remain a dominant culture in the Western Province of Bayan-Ölgii. 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 Islam, but the practice of Islam here takes on a more spiritual interpretation and is less socially conservative than some Muslim nations. We would venture to say they are the most hospitable and giving people we have encountered.
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 rugs. As the cold weather approaches families move to more permanent mud-brick winter houses.
Mongolia Frequently Asked Questions
Climbers should have completed our 6 day Basic Mountaineering Course or have equivalent experience. This is a moderately technical, glaciated climb and requires climbers to have a high level of comfort with crampons. This requirement is also based on our desire to have similarly skilled team members.
Very good to excellent physical condition. We spend a fair amount of time acclimatizing in the build-up to summit day, which can be 12 hours or more of climbing.
Along with the required crampon skills, review cardio training on the Training page of our website. This climb generally boasts 100% success.
These are generally small team trips with a group size of six to eight, plus an Alpine Ascents guide and one or two local guides, depending on group size.
July and August are the best times to climb Mt. Khuiten.
Most teams have had six to eight climbers.
In the towns, you can opt for a single room, otherwise we use shared tents.
The heaviest pack will be the move from basecamp to high camp, 40 – 45lbs. On acclimatization hikes and summit day packs will be 15 – 20lbs.
Please review the Gear List on the Mongolia page of the website.
Those requesting rental gear must submit an expedition rental form with payment by fax or mail. We will mail all rental gear to the climber prior to the climb. Climbers are expected to clean all rental gear and return following the expedition.
While all items are required, there may be times when we may not use some of the items on the Gear List (such as during warm weather or changing conditions). The Gear Lists are created by the guides to assist in having climbers be prepared to summit in any conditions.
While it is impossible for us to list all brands for certain gear, we do offer a wide variety of equipment in our Gear Shop that has been hand picked by our staff of mountaineering experts. Please feel free to call our offices with any gear questions or substitutes. Plastic boots are required for this climb.
We boil and/or use iodine for all drinking water, and we recommend a SteriPen.
Meals are generally of the meat and vegetable variety. There is an excellent supermarket in Ulaan Bator, and thus we can keep meals up to our usual standard. You may bring power bars, Gu, or similar high-energy foods. Alpine Ascents provides all meals on this climb.
No requirements at this time.
The best way to travel is via Korea so that no further visas are needed. One may also travel via Russia or China, but additional visas will be needed.
Fares are generally less expensive when booked early. You may use our travel agent (Charles Mulvehill 1-800-727-2157) or book flights yourself. Please note that flights booked on-line are often difficult to change. Please send us a copy of your flight schedule as early as possible as this allows us to book pickups and hotels.
Your guide or an Alpine Ascents representative will meet you at the airport. Look for a large Alpine Ascents sign.
We are happy to make arrangements such as personalized tours, extra hotel rooms, airport pickups, and arrange for private rooms. Please indicate that you would like a private room on your application and we will contact you with information on single-room supplement costs (for hotels only).
Climbers will pre-arrange visas and will pick them up upon arrival in Ulaan Battar.
In the cities and in hotels telephones are readily available.
Please see our Reading List for Mongolia.
You can always call our offices and your guide will contact you prior to your departure, generally about one month before trip departure. Within 30 days prior to departure, we will mail a list of other team members to you.
At least $500 should easily cover any extra expenses and tips. Most climbers prefer to bring about $1,000 and have credit cards.
Guides are permitted to accept — and greatly appreciate — tips. Tipping guidelines will be outlined in your confirmation package.
You may call our offices with a credit card, mail/fax an application with a check or credit card number, or use our online registration information.
Each climber should submit an application and flight information.
We accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express, personal checks, and Alpine Ascents gift certificates. To reserve a space, the deposit is $700 and balances are due 120 days prior to departure. Unpaid balances can result in forfeiture of trip.
See our Price & Schedule page.
As our Mongolia climb travels to multiple locations, early departure may be difficult. If a climber needs to depart early, our guides will assist in obtaining the necessary transportation and reservations to get you home as quickly as possible. We also have local Mongolian staff available for assistance.
This is a highly recommended shortlist and we would be happy to pass on a longer reading list for those interested. These links will bounce to Amazon.com with reviews.