Scottish Adventurer to Attempt Winter Crossing of the Gobi Desert on Foot

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When we think about the coldest places on the planet, typically the North and South Pole are the first places to come to mind. But there are other regions that are known for their extreme cold as well, some of which remain largely unexplored too. One Scottish adventurer has identified just such a place, and this winter he’ll set out to cross it on foot.

Veteran polar explorer and mountaineer Newall Hunter is preparing for a solo crossing of the Gobi Desert. The journey will cover approximately 1600 km (994 miles) and is expected to take upwards of three months to complete. Hunter will begin the expedition in November and hopes to wrap up sometime in January, although he is already in the Gobi doing some reconnaissance by bike at the moment. That scouting mission is giving him the lay of the land prior to his setting off on the real excursion in another month.

Hunter, who has skied to both the North and South Pole, and climbed the Seven Summits, believes this expedition could be his toughest yet. He expects to face temperatures of around -40ºF/C, with wind that will reach speeds in excess of 100 mph (160 km/h). Those conditions are expected to be common throughout the journey, which is a bit different from the Antarctic for instance, where temperatures can reach those lows, but typically it is warmer and calmer than that.

As is usual with a major desert expedition, Hunter will be pulling his gear and supplies behind him in a specially designed cart. That cart will be his lifeline for the 70-90 days he expects to be in the Gobi. His biggest challenge will be to find fresh water in the heart of the desert, but he’ll have to also melt it for use on the trail. That will take time and plenty of fuel in the conditions he’ll face while traveling.

Judging from his Facebook page, it appears that Newall has nearly wrapped up his recon efforts. Now, he’ll return home and put the finishing touches on his preparation before returning to Mongolia to launch the expedition. It should be a fascinating one to watch unfold, as he’ll post updates to Facebook along the way. Check back in on that page in about a month’s time to see his departure.

Kraig Becker