Shepherdess of the Altai   126816
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1 Malchina (Shepherdess), 3910
2 Head of Kurumbel valley
3 Tsagaan Gol (White River valley)
4 Malchin, 4028
5 Naran, 3860
6 Burged, 4035
7 Potanina Glacier
8 Huithen, 4374
9 4122
10 Mongolia/China ridge
11 Mongolia/Russia ridge
12 MNG-CHi-RUS, 4082
13 Nairamdal Vorgipfel, 3980 (GPS)
14 Nairamdal, 4117 (GPS)
15 Altai Princess (approx)
16 Beluha, 4506
17  Ukok plateau


Location: Malchina (3901 m)      by: Pedrotti Alberto
Area: Mongolia      Date: 23-08-2011
This picture comes from the border ridge between the NW corner of Mongolia and Russia.
The prominent half-rocky, half-snowy summit is Malchin, meaning «shepherd», the typical trekkers' peak of the region.
I read on some web page that the little summit near which I am photographing should be the «Shepherdess», whence the title.
The heavily glaciated summit in the middle is Mount Huithen («cold»), second-highest peak in the Altai after the wholly Russian Beluha, and highest mountain in Mongolia.
At the base camp on the left side of Potanina glacier I was very impatient to climb Huithen, but I absolutely needed a companion to undertake the deadly crevasse-dangerous route to the top.
First, I spoke with Mrs. Gangaamaa Badamgarav who on May 21 of this year became the first Mongolian woman ever to climb Mount Everest. However, she was engaged by a Magdeburg team who evidently could not accept the idea that I intended to climb the mountain in one day. They did not want to free the guide even for that one day, and started to recount a long story of "hochgeschobene Basislager" necessary to climb the peak, a.s.o..
Attracted by the camp rumors, a respectable Kazakh guide materialized outside our tent: he was glad to climb Huithen with me for 100 US dollars to rent the gear plus, he added after some lingering, 1000 dollars for his services. (He did not consider that people typically do not walk in the Altai with 1100 US dollars in their pocket)
At the end of the comedy, I sent everybody to the hell cursing the fact that mountaineering is becoming every day more an affair of money, and decided to climb all alone the lower summit of Nairamdal through a safe ridge that I had seen in a first recognition on Malchin on the evening of August 21.
On August 22 I passed beyond Shepherd and Shepherdess but I had to retrace my steps following the GPS under a sudden, heavy snowfall. Luckily, August 23 rose as the very perfect day, whence I could complete my solo ascent.
In total, within 48 hours I summited Malchin 6 times (hence: summit photos and panos with every light and weather!) and traversed the Shepherdess 4 times.
Most of the web pages about the area report wrong and contradicting data, thus I do not know how much the «Shepherdess» affair can be reliable. However, I accept her at least as a companion of the «Princess of the Altai», whose history is completely different. This is the name of a corpse found, trapped in the permafrost and thus perfectly preserved, in the Ukok plateau, clearly visible in the Russian side of the photo.
To explain, I cannot do better than quoting from Colin Thubron, «In Siberia» (Penguin Books, pag. 76):
«There is only one *She* in Russian archaeology now: the Ice Princess of the Altai, excavated in 1993 - a lone woman entombed in barbarian splendour on a remote plateau above China. Nobody knows who she was - shamaness, noblewoman, or bard - and a tempest of controversy soon brewed up about her race. Her mummy was brought to Akademgorodok and placed in a freezer which had once been used to store cheese. Soon fungi were crawling over the body, fading its delicate tattoos, and it was rushed to Moscow, where embalmers restored it. Slavic experts declared that she was Caucasoid, an early European. But the people of the Altai, who claim descend from her culture, protested that she was theirs, and a Swiss forensic pathologist supported them: she was Mongoloid, he said, close to the modern inhabitants.»
I hope that this story can give an essay of the fascination hidden within the "Golden Mountains of Altai"...
360°, 17 images, Nikon D7000, zoom 16-85 at 28mm
Larger version:


Bella la foto e bello anche il commento.
2011/09/02 17:38 , Beatrice Zanon
How do you get to all these really remote locations? Fascinating! The pano is beautiful, but appears a bit dark - should be easy to change. Cheers, Martin
2011/09/02 18:23 , Martin Kraus
Ich sag es auf Deutsch: 
Höchst beeindruckend! Das Exotische dringt geradezu in mein Zimmer.
Saluti di Walter
2011/09/02 19:12 , Walter Schmidt
Wonderful Alberto 
Everest next? :^)
2011/09/02 22:23 , Keith Spencer
Ich bin fasziniert!
Gruß Klaus
2011/09/02 22:35 , Klaus Brückner
Congratulations to this summit - it seems that this was a fantastic adventure. Concerning your pano I think too, that you should light it up a bit and increase the contrast.

2011/09/03 00:10 , Jörg Engelhardt
Sehr interessant Dein Bericht. Und das Panoramabild paßt bestens dazu. Bezüglich seiner Bearbeitung tendiere ich zu Jörgs Ansicht.
2011/09/03 00:23 , Heinz Höra
Ich danke alle für die Ratschläge, jetzt habe ich mit Gimp etwas verändert.

Keith - you see that a poor Italian teacher cannot afford even Huithen, let alone Everest!!
Indeed, on Nairamdal I had an illegal 30 m walk into China, in order to shoot some photos, but I think that a secret ascent of Everest could be somewhat more complicated...
2011/09/03 02:08 , Pedrotti Alberto
Money somewhat rules the world mixed sometimes with enviousness. Gripping story and a nice panorama. LG Robert
2011/09/03 06:10 , Robert Viehl
thanks to you we get some panorama's we never get to see, many thanks
2011/09/03 21:50 , Mentor Depret
Base camp stories 
Congratulations to the beautiful panorama! Good job! ...and six times on Malchin summit without seven-mile boots. Gosh! ...and a nice story about basecamp live. But like always in life the medal seem to have two different sides. Funnily enough we, the so called 'Magdeburg team' (right is the team from Quedlinburg at the Harz), realized the days around the 22nd August 2011 a little bit different. Suddenly a squirrelly Italian materialized in the base camp without any equipment and haunted our friend and guide Ganga with a plan to reach the Khuiten peak from base camp within one day. Ganga, who climbed Mount Everest in April 2011, could not accept the idea of the lightning tour even if she scaled the Khuiten for more than 20 times. In mountain areas not only money roles the world, but also fellowship and deliberation. We took time to plan the tour with our mongolian friends long-ranging and nobody ask to pay 1000 $. Sometimes we say: How to call into the woods, it echoes back.
2011/12/03 12:08 , Detlef Ulrich
Dear friend,
please consider that whoever spreads information around the net expects to receive some feedback one day, and is pleased whenever this happens.
Concerning the Tavan Bogd stories, I do not have many things to add to what I already wrote, nor do our views diverge that much. Only, I cannot follow you when you write of me "haunting" Mrs Gangaa: I had a single talk with her, and indeed a very friendly one. We exchanged our experiences, her Everest and my Pamir, then she asked me some detailed information concerning my speed in the first Malchin ascent; this seemed to witness an interest in accepting the Huithen proposal.
Now, I have a slight difficulty to imagine an Everest climber coming to you and confessing untold fears - however, I do not exclude this categorically. All of us have truly loved the Mongolian people, but we have also understood that their behavior looks sometimes "strange" to us - simply, they are different, which is also natural given the distance separating us.
In any case, to my mind the situation is very clear.
Mrs Gangaa could supply the rope, but not the other gear, because she knew to be guiding for already equipped people. Hence, she left the claimed stuff for six people in her Tsagaan Gol ger. Next. Your team was on a rest day; nobody other than you had gear in the camp. Next. Mrs Gangaa guides in the Altai mountains, where the season lasts maybe two months, I cannot believe that she was totally unpleased to earn some hundreds dollars. Next, you claim sincere and long-standing friendship with her...
Putting all together: I leave you to draw your own conclusions!
Note that I have never paid a guide to climb a mountain, but I don't make a point of this. I am (or at least try to be, even if not always with success) a little flexible, and in Mongolia hiring a guide could have been also a means for leaving some money to the place. (Likewise I do not find regretful to rent things from trusted local people, instead of carrying it from the other half of the world).
This said, as you have seen, I did not insist that much for the Huithen, organizing myself in real-time differently. True, I was angry for the $1000 affair - more than with the specific guy, with the people that have all that money to throw away. Because, if one asks that amount, and not for joke, this means that sooner or later he has received it... In spite of everything, the day evolved in an unforgettable way - as you can check in Panorama 9762.
I apologize for the Magdeburg mistake! A very strange one indeed, since I would have very good reasons to remember the name Quedlinburg - see
I have been twice (2003 and 2007) by bicycle on the Brocken starting from Italy. Likewise, I hope to return also to the Tavan Bogd!
2012/03/13 18:50 , Pedrotti Alberto

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Pedrotti Alberto

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