Otgon Tenger in the background with its peak resembling the shape of Mongolian tents
Otgon Tenger Uul is the highest peak of the Khanaai Nuruu range. Its height is today considered to be 3905m, but in some older topographic maps the hight is marked with 4021m. Othgon Tenger is the only mountain of the Khangaii range that is capped with a glacier. The south face of Otgon Tenger Uul is the biggest granite wall in Mongolia.
Otgon Tenger Uul is one of three most sacred mountains in Mongolia; Khan Khentii Uul, and Bogd Khan Uul are the other two. Otgon Tenger, Khan Khentii, and Bogd Khan are actually state-worshipped mountains in Mongolia. Worshipping at these mountains began during Khunnu times by the first governing state of Mongolia, and this tradition continues to the present day. Chingis Khan (Genghis Khan) first identified these three mountains as sacred mountains in the thirteenth century, and they were worshipped by his empire. Khentii Khan is the birthplace of Chingis Khan, and history says that Genghis Khan’s funeral procession travelled from Tangad state to Otgon Tenger holy mountain.
Many sacred mountains in Mongolia are said to have ferocious deities. The deity of Otgon Tenger Uul is Ochirvaani. These ferocious deities emerged after Buddhism was introduced in Mongolia. Otgon Tenger translates as 'Young son of the sky'.
The "Teeme Tower", a granite rock wall in the Otgon Tenger Uul protected area has first been climbed by an American Team (Heather Baer, Jackie Carroll, Shaun Chartrand, Steve Schneider, Mike Strassman).
The mountain is located approximately 60km east of Uliastay. Uliastay, the capital of the Zavkhan Province, can be accessed by overland bus or by a domestic flight from Ulaan Baatar. Basic food supplies can be obtained in Uliastay, special equipment and climbing gear has to be brought in from Ulaan Bataar.
To reach the mountain, horse treks or jeep rides are possible from Uliastay. Several tour operators offer horse rides or hiking tours to the base of the mountain.
The peak and its environment have been protected since 1992 to conserve the high alpine ecosystem. Otgon Tenger today is part of the 955 square kilometer large 'Otgon Tenger Strictly Protected Area'. The area includes a beautiful lake (Badar Khundaga Nuur), hot springs and wonderful steppe scenery.
In the past, although it is a sacred mountain, climbing permission could be obtained in Ulaan Bataar. However, since 2002 it is no longer officially permitted to climb Otgon Tenger Uul (Thanks to Nelson Chenkin
for this information).
Treks and horse rides within the 'Otgon Tenger Strictly Protected Area' are still possible to visit the lake and hot springs near the mountain.
You may contact Mongolian Central Mountain Altai Club for further inquiries - they are the Mongolian partner organization to the International Mountaineering and Climbing Association. Contacts (email address) through the UIAA-website
Trekking and horse ride tours within the Otgon Tenger Strictuly Protected Area can be arranged with a variety of tour operators in Mongolia.
When To Climb
Mongolia lies far inside the continental interior of Asia. It is one country very remote from seas and oceans and lies in the lee of surrounding high mountain ranges (Altai). This causes a dry continental climate - hot summers and cold winters.
Best climbing season is in summer and fall. Then, weather conditions are most stable. Expect strong winds in spring time.
Mongolia is called 'The Land without Fences' for good reason - there aren't any! Camping is basically allowed anywhere. However, respect local restrictions and 'privacy' around nomad camps.
The nomads are very friendly people and often invite travelers to their tents. However, be careful, theft is occurring at high frequented tourist camps.
Climbing of Otgon Tenger is rather straightforward. It is an isolated mountain and the climb allows fantastic views to the Gobi Desert in the south, and to the great steppes stretching north.
The climb itself over the south-east ridge involves a 1600m gain, mostly on talus. The last 300m is up a moderately angled glacier which does have several small crevasses. The south face offers opportunities for big wall climbers. (see 'Red Tape' section, as climbing is no longer officially permitted).