Just your average September morning in Mongolia!
While we are enjoying the final weeks of summer weather up here in Canada (and Jimmy is still steaming in Texas), we are keeping an eye on the weather in Mongolia, particularly in Western Mongolia.
For the most part, the weather patterns in Mongolia are very similar to what we experience here in the Great White North - warm summers and extremely cold winters. The typical tourist season (if such a thing exists in Mongolia) are the months of June, July and August - any other months of the year are subject to extreme fluctuations in temperature.
Let's look at this week's forecast - in Central Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar (approximately 4,400 feet above sea level), we are looking at temperatures ranging from a high of around 20C (68F) to just above freezing at night. These temperatures will creep downward in the next couple of weeks. With any luck, temperatures in the teens (60sF) will be the norm for most of our trip, while lows will be around the freezing point, until such time as we hit the Potanin Glacier.
Once in Western Mongolia and on the mountain, the lows will dip down to -10C (14F) or lower, and the highs will only fluctuate a couple of degrees from the low number. These numbers are fairly reasonable in comparison to our previous trips.
The main concerns on all of our trips are wind and snow. If you have been following along on our past few expeditions, you will recall wind is always the most important factor in our summit bids. On this climb, snow will likely be a larger factor on the mountain - we will be at the tail end of climbing season in September (we likely will be the only ones on the mountain). There has already been almost a foot of new snow on the summit over the past week, and we are more likely to see further snowfall later in the season. Breaking trail after a foot of snow is no easy task, especially if you are the only ones on the mountain!
We often use Mountain Forecast for our weather reports - on the whole, they have been eerily accurate. You can follow our weather online using this link: https://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Mt-Khuiten/forecasts/4374.
The extreme weather seems to bring out the best in the Bactrian Camel, the animal that will be transporting our climbing gear to base camp. Over the years we have used all means of mechanized transport getting us to and up the mountain. We have also used a menagerie of animals including horses, donkeys, mules, yaks (and naks) to help pack our gear to camp, but a camel is new to us. An intriguing animal who thrives in harsh conditions and at altitude - this excerpt is from Wikipedia:
These camels are migratory, and their habitat ranges from rocky mountain massifs to flat arid desert, stony plains, and sand dunes. Conditions are extremely harsh – vegetation is sparse, water sources are limited and temperatures are extreme, ranging from as low as −40 °C in winter to 40 °C in summer. The camels’ distribution is linked to the availability of water, with large groups congregating near rivers after rain or at the foot of the mountains, where water can be obtained from springs in the summer months, and in the form of snow during the winter.
Between the Bactrian Camel and Golden Eagle (I will post about the Eagles next week), we will be blessed with the opportunity to interact with two of the most important animals to this region.