I am in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for family visit but also as part of my early training for my Himalaya crossing by bicycle later 2016. Ulaanbaatar is situated at 1.400 meters and provides a bit of high altitude adjustment. Good to know if I can handle the higher altitudes as an asthmatic. The Himalaya bike tour will take us as far up to 5.700 meters.
It will be cold on the bike tour across Himalaya. We cycle during September, the month with most staple weather on record in the Himalays of Ladakh in northern India, where our journey on the highway to heaven will take place.
September has fine record of clear skies but cold days and nights. But not as cold as Ulaanbaatar where temperatures has hit as low as minus 47 degrees celcius. That was the morning I climbed a sacred local mountain outside Ulaanbaatar.
Songinkhairkhan. Thats the mountain where I spotted three wolves. On that fantastic morning where I together with two Mongolian men set out to climb Songinkhairkhan, a morning with clear skies, no wind, snowy white all over and so quiet and cold too. We made it to the top, enjoyed the spectacular sunrise and felt the energy from the sun doing wonders to our cold bodies. I got separated from my two local friends early on the descent. While sitting on a rock enjoying the view, three wolves appeared on the mountain ridge about 100 meters away. A magic moment. One stood up and kept standing, two sat down. They all looked across the slope towards me. So serene it felt up on the Chinggis Khans mountain for fortune. The great Mongolian emperor always visited Songinkhairkhan for good fortune before departing to fight wars during the era of the Mongolian Empire. And here I sat on that sacred mountain only 100 meters away from three wild wolves and we were starring at and sorting out each other.
“You didn’t meet the wolves, they met you” many Mongolians later told me. “They came to meet you, to bring you their spirit, which will give you strenght during troubled times on your Himalaya journey”. Everything happens for a reason the Mongolians believe. The wolves were there for me that majestic morning. I love the locals interpretation of how the wolves met me. Since early childhood, the wolf has been my favorite animal. Now I can travel to Himalaya knowing the spirit of the wolf will take me safe across the roof of the world. Fantastic.
I made it safe down without being chased by my three friends. I was stoked when safe down and sharing my experience with my Mongolian friends. Then I realized the symbolic meaning it has for a man when meeting the wolf in the wild here in Mongolia. A man gets lifted to a status of being someone so special as the wolf is an animal held in the highest regard by Mongolians.
I enjoyed hero status for days in the worlds coldest capital city, Ulaanbaatar. Many who came to know of my journey to come this year crossing the Himalays by bicycle forecasted, how the meeting with the wild wolves - wolf is “chon” in Mongolian language - on Songinkhairkhan only can bring me the best of fortune for a safe and successful crossing of the Himalayas on bicycle.
I am sure I will need the fortune when cycling in the Himalayas and when times gets really tough up there, I will remember my three “chon” friends that magic morning on Songinkhairkhan.
Bike Mike in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia February 10th 2016