The first ever solo walk across the Gobi
LOCATION: The gobi DESERT
PARTICIPANTS: Mateusz Waligóra
TRANSPORTATION: on foot
I walked 1785 km in 58 days. I pulled all the necessary gear on a cart, made specially for this expedition, at times it weighted more than 250 kilograms. I am the first man to solo cross the Mongolian part of the biggest Asian desert.
– If this expedition ends in success, Mateusz Waligóra will have accomplished a challenge of great importance, unparalleled by no other feat connected to desert exploration done by a Polish explorer – said before the expedition Marek Kamiński, the first man to reach two poles in a single year.
In August 2018 I headed out from Bulgan (province Khovd), a town located in western Mongolia, near the Chinese border. To reach the desert part of the Gobi, I had to cross the Gobi-Altai Mountains. That meant I had to pull my specially designed cart on top of passes whose height exceeds 2000 meters a.s.l. The cart was loaded with food, gear and water. The gear – a tent, a downy jacket, warm underwear – at night the temperature dropped below -10 degrees Celsius. I carried water because sometimes I had to walk for days with no wells to get water from. At times the temperature went above 35 degrees. I would then drink more that 10 litres of water a day. There were times when I had to load the cart with 90 litres of water and pull more than 200 kg on the cart.
Self-supported – that was my assumption prior to the expedition. The Mongolian part of the Gobi – the Chinese part is bigger, but obtaining permission to explore it is almost impossible, it is also more urbanised – had been crossed by men that used camels, food airdrops and assisting vehicles that carried traveller’s gear and helped navigate and find wells.
I would find my route with a couple of maps on which I had marked all the potential well locations. There were times when I would lost my way among thousands of desert paths used by the locals and flew blind trying to get back on the route.
The year of 2018 has been the driest year on the Gobi since humidity was first measured. When the dry spell was over Mongolia was ravaged by storms and floods. After the hardship of Gobi-Altai I entered the desert. Then there was another threat: sandstorms. I survived a few of them hiding in the tent.
In the second part of the expedition I had a hard time with inner tubes. At the end of the walk I had to patch them every couple of hours. Additionally, seven spokes snapped so the success of the expedition was an open question to the very end.
Sponsors: Fjällräven, Primus Equipment, Aztorin, Leatherman, Lyofood, Wild Willy Beef Jerky, This1, Goal Zero, Iridium Communications, Lesovik, Superfeet, Triglav, Manfrotto, Olympus, Icebreaker, Rohner, Crosso, Sea to Summit, Akubra, Keen, Zmiany Zmiany, Spot, Goal Zero, MSR, Therm-A-Rest, Icebreaker, Triglav, Suprasat
Expedition website: walkthegobi.com