From Mt. Everest to Mt. Khuiten

Features Issue 119 Sep, 2011
Text by Niraj Karki / Photo: Photo Courtesy NMA

The President of Momgolia and the President of NMA make diplomatic history by summitting Mongolia’s highest peak.

Oh Mongolia! The nomadic lifestyle, the grasslands, the horses – the place, just the place – it has a spirit – almost as if Genghis Khan is still out there riding’. For my friend, a dreamer, Mongolia is a dream destination. Yet him and a lot of people overlook the mountains of Mongolia and the glory of the TavanBogd (also known as the Five Sacred Peaks), located in the far western corner of Mongolia, which remains hidden in glacial territory, awaiting discovery.

On the 23rd of June 2011, however, a team of Nepalese mountaineers headed by Mr.Zimba Zangbu Sherpa made it to the summit of the 4,375m tall Mt. Khuiten – Mongolia’s highest peak, one of the five peaks that comprise the TavanBogd. The Mongolian Mountaineering Federation (MNMF), the counterpart to our Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) celebrated its 60th anniversary and in that spirit, a joint expedition to the top of Mt. Khuiten was organized by the Union of Asian Alpine Association (UAAA) with climbing parties from both Mongolia and Nepal successfully making it to the summit.

The joint expedition featured a full A-list cast including former Mongolian President His Excellency Nambaryn Enkhbayar, the first Mongolian woman to climb Mt. Everest B.Gangaamaa, and from Nepal the president of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) Mr. Zimba Zangbu Sherpa, 17-time Everest summiteer Nima Gombu Sherpa and Ms. Usha Bista, the first woman climber from the Far Western Development region of Nepal and now officially the first Nepalese woman to climb Mt. Khuiten!

The joint expedition followed the Council Meeting of the Union of Asian Alpine Associations (UAAA), of which both Nepal and Mongolia are members. The council meeting was heldin Mongolia on the 18th of June and attended by presidents and secretaries of the mountaineering associations.Issues of the member countries of the UAAA were discussed and Mr. Zimba Sherpa highlighted and promoted Nepal Tourism Year 2011. The joint expedition started the next day, the 19th of June from UlaanBaatar, the capital of Mongolia - home of Genghis Khan and a noted Buddhist capital that is a blend of traditional monasteries and a new democratic spirit.
The journey to Mt. Khuiten goes through the beautiful lands of the Kazakh nomads – one of the last remote regions on earth. Located in the Altai TavanBogd National Park and home to many species of alpine animals, the TayanBogdis at the edge of Mongolia. Mt. Nairamdal (known as Friendship) shares the boundaries of China and Russia besides Mongolia.

The climb itself, although not difficult for the Nepalese team, (land of Everest, after all!) is still a technical one. The route to the top is highly glacial terrain and features the Potanin glacier which although not steep is riddled with crevasses. As the president of the NMA, Mr Sherpa takes prides in the climbing experience of the Nepalese climbers, and at our expertise in organizing mountaineering and trekking activities.

On their return, the First Lady of Mongolia hosted a lunch reception for Mr Sherpa and the rest of the team and presented awards to the summiteers including His Excellency NambarynEnkhbayar. Mr. Sherpa and the Nepalese team were given a tour of the State Great Khural (The State Great Assembly) – the Parliament building of Mongolia and Mr. Sharavdorj Tserenkhuu, Secretary GeneralSecretariat of State Great Hural (Parliament), felicitated Mr. Zimba Zangbu Sherpa and the rest of the team. Mr Sherpa also received an official medal from the President of the Asian Olympic committee for the successful ascent of Mt. Khuiten.

It is easy for us in Nepal with the highest peaks of the world to overlook other countries in terms of mountains. Mongolia however, stands out, in its own manner, with its unique landscapes and ways of life.