Quick Interviews From the Edge of Adventure
Adventurer Ash Dykes
At 23 hears old, Ash Dykes on his way to becoming one of the greatest adventurers alive…and you probably haven't heard of him.
In 2011, I participated in The Adventurist's Mongol Rally. The event's manager at the time was Rob Mills. Rob is an expert Expedition Manager, and lived and worked all around Mongolia during his tenure with the Rally. Through Rob is where I first heard of Ash. Ash had partnered with Rob to help him plan his first major expedition, the goal being to become the first man to walk across the largest desert in Asia, the great Mongolian Gobi.
If you follow the Mountain Folk at all, I'm certain you've seen my previous posts on Ash and know that he has accomplished this goal, and is currently touring the U.K. telling his incredible story. But the reason I'm rambling on about all this is I want to mention the terrain he was up against. I rode a small motorbike across this desert, and it more than pushed my limits. We saw temperatures of -4F during the nights, and burning sand reaching above 100F in the day. In the Gobi there is nothing but sand, rock, and rough thickets further than the eye can see. It took me 11 days to drive the space that Ash walked. And we were riding long and hard, sometimes 14 hours a day. Keep in mind too, Ash had to carry every bit of gear, food, and every drop of water on a handmade cart. This task has more than made the record books, it is a human feat that is truly awe-inspiring.
Today, I am proud to call Ash a friend and fellow Mountain Folk Explorer. I look forward to watching this great Adventurer push the limits of what can be achieved. And I highly encourage you to follow him at www.AshDykes.com.
Mountain Folk Adventure: Who was your biggest influence to get to get into this type of adventure?
Ash Dykes: I would say a huge mix of different people who test themselves in many different fields, with what I do, it’s not only about the adventure & exploring land I’m unfamiliar with, but to challenge myself physically & mentally as well. I have always been curious as to how far I can push myself, but also know how capable I am. If I see something that looks hard, I always ask myself if I think I can do it, so I try!
If I was to pick someone specifically, I would say I have always been influenced by Bear Grylls, I thinks it’s awesome what he does & would love to go in that direction!
MFA: Walking across Mongolia, where did you first get the idea?
AD: I was working for two years as a scuba diving instructor in Thailand, this was amazing, and I was also competing against the locals in the martial art of Muay Thai. However – this started to become same old and I needed a new challenge. I was young, healthy and raring to take on another adventure. All my previous adventures were constant reminder that I could head off and do it at any time, in spite of the fact I was skint! I wanted to do a walking expedition as I had done many cycles before, walking over land always seemed to me to be old school and I loved this thought. If I was going to walk, I wanted it to be in a country that could offer a variety of landscape and terrain, but also be extreme so I would be massively tested. As I searched on the world map, Mongolia matched this instantly!
MFA: What’s so special about Mongolia to you?
AD: Mongolia is a magnificent, untouched country that rarely gets spoken about and definitely is overlooked, when it should absolutely not be! It’s by one of the most interesting countries out there, where the nomads still live in their ger and some still hunt with their eagles. The history, culture, and the way the locals live is just incredible, matched by its beautiful yet harsh weather and terrain – home to the Altai Mountains, Gobi Desert and Steppe. The list could continue forever, although I covered Mongolia’s length at walking pace, there is still much to learn and see!
MFA: In terms of overall difficulty and day to day struggles, how does walking across Mongolia compare to the other activities you've done?
There were some extremely difficult times in Mongolia, from snow blizzards and sleepless, windy nights in the Altai Mountains, to extreme dehydration and suffering with heat exhaustion in the Gobi Desert. The threat from wolves, snakes, losing the way (which takes me to my next water point), and facing the storms was frightening with lightening crashing down not too far from my metal trailer and me.
All my other adventures had been with a friend, so this one was different with it being completely solo throughout, all the decision making was on me and I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes, although these too were inevitable.
MFA: What gear maintenance is involved?
AD: No major gear maintenance really, as long as I looked after my kit and protected it in the extreme weather. I did have my solar panel stolen at one stage which was disappointing.
MFA: What piece of gear could you not do without on the adventure?
Elder the Incredible (the name of my trailer), she was solid and also my life capsule. Without her, I wouldn’t have been able to carry the water/food that I needed to survive. My Water-to-go bottles were also fantastic and it was a huge “problem solved” every time I would come across new water, as there was no second thought on whether I could drink it or not.
MFA: What piece of gear was the biggest disappointment?
AD: I didn’t rely on it, but I had my IPhone to use as GPS, this was useless and had everything wrong (including) names of settlements and cities, it wouldn’t even show any tracks that I was on, but that’s no surprise and I quite liked the old school map and compass, anyway.
MFA: Thanks so much and good luck with the next one.