Climbing Khuiten

The Mongolian Altai Mountains, straddling the Russian and Chinese borders, are the tallest of the three major mountain ranges of Mongolia.  Riddled with eternally snow-capped peaks and glaciers, they provide some of the most beautiful sights in Mongolia.

The Altai’s highest peak, Khuiten (4,734m), and four neighboring peaks along the massive Potanin glacier are collectively known as Tavan Bogd, “The Five Saints.”  The four other mountains are Nairamdal (4,082m), Snowchurch (4,071m), Ulgii (4,113m), and Malchin (4050m).

The Altais are home to a variety of wildlife including argali sheep, ibex, elk, brown beers, marmots, foxes, and wolves as well as the endangered snow leopard and lynx.  Birds in the area include Saker falcons, Altai snow cocks, and the famed golden eagles used by Kazakh eagle-hunters.  The Altais also boast numerous archaeological sights, including petroglyphs, deer stones, Turkic stone men, and ancient burial sites.

Day 1: Ulgii

  • Arrive in Ulgii
  • Visit local outdoor market (bazaar), mosque, and museum
  • Prepare for excursion at nearby ger camp

Day 2: Drive to Tavanbogd National Park

  • Drive to the White River Valley, the gateway to the Tavanbogd peaks
  • The valley is dominated by the sacred Shiveet Mountain, around which lie hundreds of ancient burial mounds and petroglyphs
  • Meet up with local Tuvan herders who will provide us with horses and camels for the trek

Day 4: Hike to Tavanbogd Base Camp

  • Hike up through a mountainous terrain of rock outcroppings to the Tavanbogd base camp
  • Perhaps catch sights of local wildlife including marmots, hares, and a number of birds (golden eagles, vultures, and falcons)
  • All luggage and equipment will be transported by camels handled by Tuvan herders
  • Campsite elevation is 2,900m

Day 5: Acclimatization Ascent of Malchin

  • At 4,050m Malchin is the smallest of the 5 peaks
  • Hike along the Potanin glacier for an hour and then start climbing Malchin
  • It’s ridgeline straddles the Russian border and provides spectacular views of the Potanin glacier, snow-capped peaks, and sights into Russia
  • Looking west you will see the massif of Mt. Belukha (4,500m) in Russia, the absolute top of the Altai mountain range

Day 6-9:  Climb Khuiten

  • The next four days (including one leeway day) will be spent climbing Khuiten
  • An advanced base camp will be established below the eastern face of Khuiten
  • A number of crevasses need to be traversed before reaching Khuiten’s foothill
  • The actual ascent, although technically moderate, takes four hours
  • The summit offers tremendous views into China, Russia, and the neighboring snow-capped ridges

Day 10: Tsagaan Gol River Valley (White River)

  • Hike back to our camp in the White River Valley
  • The river is fed by the Potanin glacier
  • This gradual descent will give you a chance to witness how the initial stream of glacial dust transforms into the mighty White River

Day 11: Return to Ulgii

  • Drive 7 hours back to Ulgii
  • Stay in a ger camp and enjoy a hot shower
  • Watch a traditional Kazakh concert and dine on “beshbarmak,” the Kazakh national dish of stewed meat, root vegetables, and steamed flour

Day 12: Return to Ulaanbaatar


If you are interested, Kobesh Travel can arrange to have an Ulaanbaatar-based guide meet you at the airport/train station upon your arrival in Mongolia. The guide can help you navigate Ulaanbaatar, can travel with you to your accommodation, and can show you some of the city’s sights. Furthermore, Kobesh Travel can also help you explore more of Mongolia than just the West. We are more than happy to help extend your sightseeing of our beautiful country with additional journeys before or after your trip out West.

  • Includes: English-speaking guide, cook, land transportation, accommodations, camping equipment, three meals a day with snacks in between, pack animals, camel guides, and national park tickets
  • Excludes: Domestic flights, alcohol, discretionary horse/camel rides, and laundry