Mongolia 2010 Expedition, Ripley Davenport

Please take a moment or two to read this, then post it to your blog, facebook, twitter, bebo, myspace etc.
Ripley Davenport has spent years planning a walk. Not a walk down the UK like me, but across some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. He had planned to be the first person to walk unsupported across Mongolia, East to West. 
Let Ripley explain...

"It stands to become the longest solo and unassisted walk ever completed." 

British Adventurer Ripley Davenport will plunge deep inside the most sparsely populated independent country in the world to do what no one else has ever done – to attempt the longest recorded solo and *unssisted walk - across the vast landmass of Mongolia from east to west, starting May 2010.
Enduring sub-zero temperatures, icy blizzards, sand storms, isolation and maybe a touch of frostbite, Grey wolves will look on and shadow Ripley as he walks along the frozen landscape.
The Expedition will involve walking 1700 miles / 2750 km’s across the Eastern Mongolian Steppe, Gobi Desert and the Altai Mountain Range, while hauling provisions and equipment weighing in excess of 200kg in a wheeled trailer, specifically designed for the journey, in 90 days or less.
This effort to push the frontiers of human capabilities, challenge ecological values and inspire youth to reach beyond their perceived limits and engage their dreams.
M2010X will test the limitations of mental and physical human endurance.
*Unassisted - No assistance in any form for the entire expedition (no air resupply, machine, animal or supply depots - all food & fuel is pulled on the trailer.)


This is a difficult blog to write.

The last 24 hours have been the most unmerciful 24 hours of my life and sat here alone in the darkness, on the fringes of the Steppe, I have reached a surreal moment full of mixed emotions. I will explain...
Molly Brown (Ripley's Trailer) has weathered well considering the terrain and weight she's bearing on her back but with most things there's always a weak point that exposes itself in dire moments. Molly displayed her weakness.
As I left Choibalsan and stepped out onto the edge of the Mongolian Steppe I was taken back by the sheer view of what lay ahead of me.
A land littered with immense pot holes, washes, muddy ground, soft sand and deep trenches. I had expected to be tested to the full but this was a mine field of obstacles and covering just 1 km in a little over 4 hours is heart breaking and emotionally destroying. Those that have been in such conditions will know what I am taking about. That I can handle.
However, Molly started to make a erie noise. Clearly, I as subjecting her to a serious beating. 247kg is no easy feat to pull at the best of times but over dreadful ground is near impossible - not impossible but near enough. I estimate that I unloaded and reloaded her weight 15 to 20 times and dug her out of black mud more times than I can remember.
Could I go around I hear you say? I could but in all directions for about 30km lay the same ground. I picked the best starting point in my estimation. The wheels were subjected to a lot of impact and relentless blowing sand and grit made its way in to everything. The problem was sourced in the wheel hub, which I am sad to say was not a sealed component. The riding rim for the ball bearings and ball bearings were eroded and several of these, what can only be described as her Achillies heal, were mere metal fragments and fine silver dust in two of the wheels. I did prepare for this likelihood and carried a few spares and exchanged the bearings in awkward conditions but the rugged terrain and weight got the better of her. There are only so many bearings to take as spares and I expended them all. I sat, having bearly covered 12km in 12 hours of walking, in the icy dry wind and lost it. I broke down. I'm not afriad to sat that I let out some emotional tears and screamed some disagreeable language. So much time and preparation went into this expedition that it became an obsession. I trained hard and trained well and simply never encountered problems with her bearings until now. A minor flaw in her design and one over-looked but one easily rectifiable.
After a prolonged conversation with my dear wife and full support in my decision, I decided to pause the expedition - not stop - and call in assistance. Unable to move, I set up camp put on a brew and calmly waited in a bitter wind and icy dark Steppe for evacuation.
This is small delay. I am returning back to Denmark on Monday, tail between my legs and tremendously upset and low at the consequence but as soon as I can, at immediate notice if need be, I will return to my last position and resume my walk across Mongolia from where I came to grinding halt.
I want to thank those of you for your support during some dark hours, which my wife has sent to me. I am touched. I want to thank my sponsors but mostly I want to acknowledge Burmaa Zunduisuren from Visit Mongolia, the wonderful and charming duo Delgermaa and Spiro at Eznis Airways, H. E. The British Ambassador to Mongolia Bill Dickson for his telephone call and to Matt Nelson - to name but a few - for support and positive encouragement for making my dream possible and smoothing the way through some heavy formalities. And in her own type of solo expedition - my wife at home, alone with two crazy kids tha I miss dearly, holding the fort and running home base. I love you and can't wait to see you - but it's not for long!! I intend to return to Mongolia as soon as I can, hopefully within the month with a stronger Molly Brown and ready for another crack of this difficult task. I will not quit until I complete my walk across Mongolia. I'm not broken just shattered and eager to get back. Thank you all. 

To go back, Ripley needs to raise $6,000 - DKK 30,000 (max) and needs to be back within a month. If you can help, or know someone who can, or even if you dont, please copy and paste this blog everywhere you can think of, somebody may have $6k they don't need :o)


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