Debrief: Dogsled expedition around Lake Khuvsgul, Mongolia

Posted: May 08, 2009 03:02 pm EDT

( Bert Poffé, Kiki Nárdiz, Joël Rauzy and his Mongolian wife, Bayana, finished their dog sledding expedition around Lake Khuvsgul, or Blue Pearl, in Mongolia. They also climbed a nearby mountain, Munkh Saridag.

Road trip to Khatgal

Kiki and Bert flew from Brussels to Prague and continue via Moscow to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. From there it was a 700 km road trip to Khatgal.

On the way they met their team-mates Joel and Bayana in the town of Murun. On the gravel road they had several flat tires and mechanical problems with the vehicle.

Khatgal to Khankh

After the long road trip they started their dogsled expedition on the outskirts of Khatgal, heading north for Khankh, near the Russian border.

Bert reported about the weather: The weather was unexpectedly mild, temperatures just below, and sometimes slightly above zero felt incredibly warm because of the dry air, the always present sunshine and the absence of the feared Khuvsgul winds.

Nevertheless, once the sun set behind the spectacular mountain ranges, temperatures dropped suddenly and without mercy to minus 15 and more (during the night).

Munkh Saridag

At Khankh they left the dogs and the sleds with a nomad family and continued on horseback to climb Munkh Saridag, with the approval of the local Shaman, said Bert.

He described the beginning of the climb as steep and lots of rocks and stones made the climb exhausting and technically difficult. At about 2500 m the altitude and heavy backpack took their toll on our bodies and the progress was slow.

At 3200 m they set up base camp and the temperature reached 25°C at night and they summited the following day (3492 meter).

Back on the Khuvsgul Lake we were received by the nomads with a lot of respect, said the team, and of course superb food to celebrate our Saridag climb.

The eastern shore of the Blue Pearl

Our way back to Khatgal, this time via the eastern shore of the Blue Pearl wasnt any easier than the other side, wrote Bert. The ice conditions, a very fine layer, melting and freezing over and over again, never seen before and of course due to the too mild temperatures, was extremely hard on the dogs and we permanently had to put them on new self made "booties".

Also more and more crevasses and stretches of open water had to be handled with care.

The End

The arrival at Khatgal and the logical end of the expedition was as joyful as abrupt and even a bit painful, said Bert. You cant prepare for this moment: Although you feel somewhat proud and happy you achieved the goals, but all of a sudden all the adrenaline is gone and you dont know quite well what to do or even what to say or think.

Back home Bert wrote, Whaw, how privileged have I been to live this wild and beautiful experience is the feeling I have back home while rediscovering my old habits and occupations. Our Mongolian Khuvsgul Dogsled expedition was an experience we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Bert Poffé from Leuven, Belgium and his Spanish wife, Kiki Nárdiz, together with Frenchman Joël Rauzy and his Mongolian wife, Bayana, embarked on a dog sledding expedition around Lake Khuvsgul in Mongolia in April and climbed Munkh Saridag near the Russian border.

Kiki, Bert, Banyana and Joël with their dogs (click to enlarge)
Lake Khuvsgul, Mongolia (click to enlarge)
On horse back from Khankh to Munkh Saridag (click to enlarge)
Climbing Munkh Saridag (click to enlarge)
Back on the Khuvsgul Lake we were received by the nomads with a lot of respect and of course superb food to celebrate our Saridag climb. (click to enlarge)
Dogs with booties (click to enlarge)
A Mongolian nomad house (click to enlarge)
Inside a nomad house. All images courtesy of (click to enlarge)