Fashion and Dressing Tips for the Gobi

Orjan is a Swedish PhD student who bought a one-way ticket to Mongolia to work at the base camp of our long-term research project.  These are his adventures…

It’s getting cold. Or actually, the “microclimates” here differ a lot, making it extremely hard to dress correctly. The last nights have been between 7 and 12 degrees below zero and day time ranges between 2 below zero and 5 above. The tricky part is that the sun is still warm (surprising, eh?), so in the middle of the day, and when hiking on a sunny slope, it can be pretty hot. On the other hand, it is always more or less windy and the wind is really cold. Up on the ridgelines and in shaded canyons it can be pretty cold. So I reckon that if the temperature is zero, that could mean plus 10 in a sunny slope or 15 below in a windy, shaded canyon (the canyons are cool as it is).

A good, thin wind-breaker, a wool cap, gloves and extra clothes in the backpack is very fashionable among westerners this year. Though, the locals do not seem to share the view of what is “hip”. Every time I leave, Oyuna looks very troubled and thinks that I have way too little clothes on.

Another funny thing is that Oyuna doesn’t want me to leave on my own. Since there is no one else in camp that makes fieldwork a bit complicated, unless I bring the cat [the camp’s resident housecat, Friday]. She actually followed me to check a kill site (Oyuna that is, not the cat). We had to hike 700 meters, not flat but not really rugged either. Even so, I was a bit afraid that she would fall over dead because she coughed and breathed very hard. After that I think that she decided that I might be able to take care of myself.

Besides putting an extra layer of felt on the ger [to prepare for winter], we also shoveled dirt on the edges of the walls to prevent the cold wind from blowing in. This helped substantially; it is almost too warm inside now. I brought out my winter sleeping bag yesterday but I wasn’t able to close it until six o’clock in the morning…

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