Fly to: Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia
Internal Transfer: Ulaan Bataar - Olgii (3hrs 30mins)
Ex-Soviet 4x4 Jeeps 9hrs driving without roads across the steppe to Potaniin Glacier, Altai Mountains
Visa required: Yes if British
Time Zone:+8hrs GMT
Day 5, 24/07/09: Mongolia - Altai Mountains
Packed up all the tents ready to set off from the Ger camp this morning; the 'Grandfather' - an elderly gentleman in traditional dress arrived shortly after 9am; tugging along on horseback his train of 5 camels. It goes to show what images one forms in the mind; expectations of places & objects, for the idea of seeing camels amidst snowy valleys & peaks even now just seems so very unreal; if i'm honest i still find it inconceivable yet with my own eyes & my camera lense i have it captured...
From the Tavan Bogd Ger camp we trekked our way upto the edge of the Potaniin Glacier; crossing a number of glacial rivers enroute - the views were once again sublime, especially that first sighting of the glacier mouth opening to reveal the beautiful peaks of the Altai. Our camp camp here was set at 3,000m & as we pitched up a magnificant snow storm rapidly sucked away any remnants of the vast blue sky & before too long the magnificant view was snatched from our sight and we were shrouded in bleak darkness; driving snow and a bitter, swirling wind. The speed at which the weather changes here in Mongolia is incredible; a blue sky can turn a thundery, ferocious grey in the blink of an eye and the temperature drops at times are simply bone aching.
No sooner as the tents were pitched we all rushed into the central Ger where Sandagash had prepared tea & biscuits; that moment of familiarity as once again the table was adorned by the infamous Chinese flasks that seem to make an appearance everywhere i go. Whilst in the Ger we practiced our knots; crevasse rescue systems; prussets (French prusset, climb heist etc) - it was starting to get bloomin' cold and the swirling wind was gaining serious momentum outside.
As we were practicing our rescue systems and re-familiarising with sequence and types of knots, what sounded like raised voices could be heard from outside; one of which belonged to our guide, Ian. As he re-entered the ger there was an obvious look of disbelief on his face; for a short second he stood shaking his head; turns out our expedition stoves were still in Ulaan Baatar! Apparently they had been sent to U.B for cleaning & should have been with us tonight; Plan B meant that they would now be sent out to arrive with us sometime tomorrow evening (at this point it was all sounding a bit vague & sketchy!)