Hi Guys, here's another journey incident worth telling while we wait for the Jimnys. It was May 14th day 45 of the challenge. We had crossed the border at Tashanta from Russia into Mongolia, and were on our way to Ulgij. Our first shock was that the tarmac road as we crossed the border only lasted for a few kilometres and then the sand roads started. The dust was unbelievable, you could not drive with the windows open and you could not use the air conditioning as it consumes about 20% of the power of the engine. Anyway, we had been driving for best part of the morning when we came across a small village, so to make sure we were going in the right direction, I showed the map to a local man who pointed to a track and as you followed it by eye it zig zagged a bit but then made its way up the side of what I would only describe as a very high hill or a small mountain. Either way you looked at it, it didn't look good. I thought this is scary, you know that feeling when you know you have to do it, but you would rather not because it will frighten the living daylights out of you. Hesitantly we pushed on. The Jimny I drive is 02 with an all up weight of about 1.5 ton, a bit heavier than 03, so I struggle at times with some of the things we had to do and this was definitely one of them. Never the less we proceeded skywards.
As we went higher and higher the power of the little 13hp engine seemed to be getting less and less. I naturally thought the problem was the quality of the fuel, but later realised it was the altitude we were at that was the problem. The air was too thin and the engine could not suck in enough air to function efficiently. If that wasn't bad enough, the track was blocked for some reason so you just followed the tyre marks made by the vehicles that had gone before and turned off the track. This meant looking down the side of the mountain at an alarming angle. I swallowed, held my breath and with my backside playing the national anthem, I went over the edge looking at the village that we passed a long way below and away in the distance. The surface was loose sand and flint chips and was moving side ways as I inched along what passed as some sort of track. To my horror, it ended with nowhere to turn. I was on the side of the hill, come mountain and in deep poo!! I couldn't even get out of the car.
There I was looking straight down and as I looked around expecting to find the other guys ready to help, they were no where to be seen. I was on my own. A situation that had occurred on two other occasions throughout the journey. We were always supposed to be in sight of one and other for safety and security reasons. I tried the radio but no response. I decided to try and reverse back to where I came off the the main track. It was not possible to get back onto the track from where I was, it was too steep. Maybe I could turn around and drive the other way as there were tyre tracks in that direction.
I shunted the little Jimny backwards and forwards, sometimes at an alarming angle, but I finally made the turn and inched my way back to see if I could get back onto the track, only to be faced with a scarily steep incline. As the car was on the level at this point, I got out and had a good look at my precarious situation and thought about what to do. I climbed up the slope and looked back at the car contemplating what I could do. I thought to myself 'what the ***** hell am I doing here'. I got back in the car, backed up as far as I could, selected second gear and hit the throttle, thinking I must be mad. I hit the ramp and up I went, this little car was simply amazing. Its four wheel drive dragged us up to the top and back onto the track with ease. When my breathing returned to normal I set out to find where the other car was. I wasn't to happy that they had gone off and left me, but relieved when I saw them coming towards me.
It appeared that we had taken the wrong track somewhere on our way up this hill and had to go back down to find the right one. This lost us time but we were soon on our way again driving up the mountain. The right track was much better, however three quarters of the way up I ran out of steam again and had to drive the last part to the top in reverse with the clutch smelling like burnt porridge. We had made it to the top. Going down the other side was no joke either, trying to stop on loose sand and flint chips is not easy. This time I learnt from my mistakes, I let the other guys go in front so if they went over the edge I was not to go follow them! Les