Gobi Winter Crossing

Follow Newall Hunters solo trek across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia

This weekend Newall will set off on an attempt to trek solo and unsupported across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. It is believed no-one has previously attempted this more than 1800km crossing in winter, and only a few have crossed it solo in summer. Newall will head out into the Gobi desert pulling all of his 150kg of supplies and equipment on a cart and facing temperatures as low as -40C for up to 90 days, but his biggest challenge will be finding water. The planned route for the attempt is from Bulgan in Khovd province on the western border of Mongolia, following a Southerly path to Sainshand in the East.

Newall Gobi Route Map

Newall has already recce’d this route on a cycle in September to try and identify the available water sources – wells, rivers and springs. He worked with the local nomads in the desert who showed him where water could could be found in the winter. A water source is needed every 3 to 4 days as any more than 4 days of water (approx 20 liters) is simply too heavy to carry along with all of the other supplies and equipment. In Antarctica obtaining water was simply a matter of melting snow, that is not an option in the Gobi!

Water well in Gobi with camels

As well as working with the local knowledge of the Mongolians, drone technology was also used. A small DJI Mavic was used to spot animals congregating at water, and to confirm that sightings through binoculars were actually wells. In the open desert the Mavic was able to recce out to more than 7Km without any problems.

Drone searching water

The Gobi desert is an incredibly harsh and beautiful place with many different landscapes and environments. Newall will trek through landscapes as different as the Mongolian Steppe and up into the Altai mountains at 8000 ft. .

During the solo crossing Newall will be carrying a satellite tracker which will update his location on a map every hour, and he will be posting Blog updates every evening on our website, facebook page and instagram.

Monday, 6th of November

Newall Hunter has arrived in Ulaanbaatar and so has the winter just in time for his expedition to cross the Gobi desert in winter on foot without support!

Newall arrived in Ulaanbaatar

Friday, 10th of November

Newall is fitting brakes to his cart. “I have to go from the Steppe at 3000ft up in to the Altai mountains at 8000ft twice during the crossing and that means coming down twice with 150kg behind me. So brakes are a necessary precaution. Thanks to the guys at Cycling World in Ulaanbaatar for there ingenious solution.”

Newall fixing his cart

Saturday, 11th of November

Newall on his way to the starting point of his great Gobi winter expedition: „That is me starting day 2 of the drive to my start in Bulgan in Khovd province of western Mongolia. The roads are covered in a layer of solid ice so I can see why this is expect to take up to 6 days. It was around -18C this morning when we set off, and the toilet is a "long-drop" outside which is a little chilly first thing in the morning.“

Newall 12.11

Sunday, 12th of November

“Interesting to see the herders out on their horses today. When I was here in September doing the recce I hardly saw any on horses. They were mostly using motorcycles. At that time I was thinking that the way of life with the use of horse to manage the flocks was maybe dieing out and being replaced by modern machinery. But from what i am seeing now there still appears to be a place for the horse when the environment gets tough with the snow and ice of winter.” Newall reporting on his way to the starting point of his great expedition.”

Newall 13.11

Monday, 13th of November

"The petrol pump attendants have a lot more character over this part of Mongolia. I'm staying in the town of Altai in Gobi-Altai province tonight. Have gone to a better hotel than my previous visit here in September. Last time my hotel room door got kicked in at 2am in the morning by a drunk guy. After helping him leave I had to barricade the door shut with the bed for the rest of the night! This one is much better and nice a quiet. I'm about 3/4 of my way to the western border of Mongolia now." Newall on his way to the starting point of his great expedition.

Newall 14.11

Tuesday, 14th of November

“Have arrived in Bulgan in Khovd province on the western side of Mongolia. I will be starting the crossing from just East of here at the edge of where the new tarmac minor road meets the desert track. Some stunning scenery during todays drive. We took a new route through the mountains via a large coal mine and a new road from the mine to China for the constant stream of Chinese trucks. The mine was located at about 7500ft up in the mountains and with the snow and ice it looked like a brutal place to work at this time of year. Planning a kit sorting out day tomorrow so will probably start on the 16th.”

Newall 15.11

Wednesday, 15th of November

“Doing final kit check and last bit of shopping for supplies. It’s always an anxious time just before setting off, making sure you haven’t forgotten something as there is no chance sorting that after starting. It’s a gorgeous day in Bulgan so hopefully it will be like this tomorrow. Will spend the day eating and drinking as much as I can load in. It’s been a long time in the planning, but it’s nearly time to start.” Newall on his last day before crossing the Gobi desert as first in history unsupported in winter.

Newall 16.11

Thursday, 16th of November - Day 1

“I took the first step of my attempt to cross the Gobi desert solo in winter today at 15.15. Bit later than planned as it took quite a while to unload the 4x4 and build the cart. The late start ment I only had just over 2 hours of daylight before having to stop and put up my tent. But actually a short first day is quite nice to ease into the exertion of pulling the cart.” Newall on his first day walking across the Gobi desert.

Newall 17.11

Friday, 17th of November - Day 2

“Very cold night and start this morning. The cold made packing away the tent and loading the cart very slow. But I started walking around 8.40 and did a solid day finishing at 17.45 when it got dark. Very hard day mostly uphill and in soft sand so was quite pleased when I calculated I did about 30km. It might have started cold this morning but by lunchtime I was overheating with the sun and the exercise.” Newall reporting on his second day walking across the Gobi at -20 to 30Celsius.

Newall 18.11

Saturday, 18th of November - Day 3

“Day 3 was a but easier than the first 2. The surface was hard (better for the cart wheels) and it was mostly flat until the last 5km when I started climbing in the the mountains. I have been adjusting things all day trying to optimise my efforts - I have moved the cart load around to better balance it over the wheels and take some of the weight off my shoulders. I also moved the Pulling harness pick-up point as I was constantly banging my elbows on the pull-shafts. This wasn't very successful as what I really need is a hacksaw! One of the photos show a partially frozen river - good for me to get water from, but bit risky when I crossed it pulling the cart.”

Newall 19.11

Sunday, 19th of November - Day 4

“Went up one mountain pass to start the day and came down another (nicknamed Hells Canyon on the cycle recce) in the dark tonight. In between I had a long steady climb with up to 2 feet of snow. Very tough going trying to pull the cart through the snow - on my hands and knees at times. A little more snow and it would have been impossible. Met a Mongolian family in their old Russian 4x4 who were most amused at my efforts. In my tent exhausted tonight.”

Newall 20.11

Monday, 20th of November - Day 5

“The photo is of the location where I camped last night. Not most peoples idea of a desert, Frozen river and snow! It was exceptionally cold the morning when I packed up camp. It was still dark and snowing with a bitting wind. A few hours later after some serious climbing up and over a mountain pass I was in the typical Mongolian Steppe - wide flat and rocky. The wind was even colder there.”

Newall 20.11b

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  • southern-mongolia
  • gobi
  • hiking
  • adventure
  • climbing