Travelling with dogs along frozen lakes and rivers for 700 km the team will face temperatures down to a blistering -40C in the middle of the Mongolian winter – temperatures at which skin must be completely covered and even your own breath freezes.
The team will forge a previously unexplored route across pristine steppe and through deep frozen river gorges to the lands of traditional nomadic clans and towards spectacular Lake Khovsgol. A focus of Mongolian spiritual beliefs, Lake Khovsgol is surrounded by towering mountain ranges and when the team arrive it will be covered with a layer of completely clear ice, allowing the dog teams to appear to run on water.
Following the evidence of ancient maps and local legend, the team will leave the lake on horseback to be guided by local tribesmen for 4 days into a hidden valley behind the mountains that surround Lake Khovsgol. The Darkshad Valley has been believed for centuries to be the centre of shamanic energy and the source of the legend of Shambhala. Once within Darkshad the team will rendezvous with the indigenous nomadic Tsaatsan who continue their traditional occupation of reindeer husbandry in the valley. Only 200 Tsaatan remain and the team have a unique opportunity to live with them, joining in with the daily work and gaining an insight into this ancient way of life.
“The Endeavour Fund has proven to be really committed to providing unique and adventurous opportunities for WIS personnel to look beyond the now, to inspire them for the future and to fully engage them with what’s possible ‘beyond injury’. This is hopefully one of those opportunities and one which serves to leave a lasting positive legacy for all who become involved – through physical challenge, through adventure and in life. This project would simply not exist without the continued support of the Endeavour Fund…”IAN O’GRADY
This audacious project will require participants to undertake extensive training both in the UK and Norway and represents both a physical and a spiritual journey through one of the coldest and least inhabited places on earth outside of the polar ice caps. Beyond the obvious physical and mental challenges of such a unique journey, this truly unique project will aim to provide first-hand experience of the truly ‘stripped down’ existence of some of the toughest and most spiritual people on earth.
The project is being pioneered and managed by Ian O’Grady. Ian left the RAF in 2014 having served as a Helicopter Crewman for 8 years.
Ian has always had a real passion for adventure travel and in 2014 he managed and led ‘Beeline Britain’ – the first ever completion of a straight line journey from Land’s End to John ‘O’ Groats. Beeline Britain which was fully supported by the Endeavour Fund was a huge success – the team set 2 endurance sea kayaking records, and raised £25,000 for BLESMA in the process.
“This new expedition project will, I hope, be an amazing and truly unique adventure in one of the coldest and least travelled corners of the globe. Aside of being an epic adventure, the real purpose of this for me is to provide new opportunities for other WIS to show us all what is possible ‘beyond injury’ and to inspire us all for an adventurous, fulfilling and successful civilian life”. Ian O’Grady, Expedition Leader.