Sunday, February 24, 2008

how cold is cold

After our friend, Eric, at Quixotic Cycles sent one of his characteristic smarty-pants comments about 'cold', I decided to post a couple of the better clips from our time up in Khovsgol. The first is 17secs of relatively typical turbulence in the forgon -- and shows us coming up over the last pass (complete with ovoo) between Rinchinlumbe and Lake Hovsgol. When the clip ends you can just make out the frozen white band of the lake behind Baagi's head.

I can't imagine that the road between Tsaagan Nuur and Rinchinlumbe and then to Lake Khovsgol is open during the summer because we seemed to be driving largely on or in broad, rocky river beds... sometimes bouncing over channel bars, othertimes on sections of deep, blue-green undulating ice. (Annie, incidentally, has the much more humorous version of our trip and some nice pictures of Rinchinlumbe up on her blog. While I have no idea how bad the insects are in summer, Rinchinlumbe struck me as just one of the lovely spots on earth.)

Once we got down to the lake, itself ringed by high mountains to the north and west sides, we were on the ice. Now I still regard flight as a miracle, and driving on ice definitely skeeves me out a little. As this pic shows: the ice is wicked thick and so besides skidding and possibly flipping, the likelihood of actually breaking through was minimal. Nevertheless, passing a Mongol family on their motorbike-and-sidecar rig at what I'm guessing was only 50mph had a certain sensation of scarey about it.

As to actual tempertures: happily it was warmer than we had packed for. Happily, too, this meant that Andrew didn't need his big, black down jacket quite as much -- especially since, in the process of going for a 3:00am pee-break and grabbing more firewood, he brushed its nice nylon shell against the stovepipe thereby opening a nice 6" hole in one of the baffles and acquiring the nickname Galbaatar ('Fire Hero'). It was warm enough in the ortz that the duct-tape we had stuck to the coat to cover the hole, but cold enough outside that it sadly lost its adhesive abilities and rendered my repair useless.

Rinchinlumbe is the closest actual weather station and being in the Darkhad basin seems to come fairly close in temperature. The three days or so we were up in the taiga, the daytime high averaged around 0degsF and the nighttime low temperature averaged close to -25degsF. Not evil cold, but cold enough that even with a wood fire going all night in the stove, a water bottle left uncovered between your body and the canvas wall of the ortz would freeze. By the time we got to the lake, the actual temperatures were about 10degsF warmer, but the wind blew straight up the lake. So definitely a little frosty, especially for our sled ride! (You can see that on Annie's blog.)


Meg said...

Luckily, Andrew had 'outfitted' us with exceptional gear - mittens by Black Diamond that were insulated for -30 degree weather and Smartwool balaclavas (which I didn't wind up wearing because the weather was so tropical....ha!) By far my best wardrobe piece has been the fur rabbit shapka (hat) given to me by my brother, John, who actually ate the rabbit used in the making of the hat! (Some local friends in Kyrgyzstan provided the rabbit). Yes, animals were harmed in the making of my hat, but by golly, it's one warm son of a gun! Love, Meg

Quixotic Bicycles said...

There is a decent chance "Galbaatar" is going to stick, unless you do something even more "exciting". Great pics man, I'm jealous.