With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado

Table of contents

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado

15th pictures

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

1/15
Failures are inevitable with such a challenge. If you got caught apart from the tire, you can read in MOTORRAD 7/2017 and 8/2017.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

2/15
The operational machines: Honda Africa Twins.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

3/15
The escort vehicles from Metzeler and HRC Honda.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

4/15
The hotels.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

5/15
Drink and pee break. A common picture with around 10 liters a day …

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

6/15
MOTORRAD top tester Karsten Schwers was one of the ideas behind this challenge.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

7/15
It definitely doesn’t want to end like this.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

8/15
Better to enjoy this view in all its freshness.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

9/15
Acclimatization program for the Africa Twin pilots under the supervision of professional mountaineers.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

10/15
You can read the exciting, extremely entertaining story in MOTORRAD 7/2017 (from March 17th at the kiosk) and MOTORRAD 8/2017 (from March 31st at the kiosk).

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

11/15
Mass storage in the mobile home was a luxury.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

12/15
Top tester Karsten Schwers makes new friends.

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

13/15
Mission: From zero to 6,000 meters in altitude in 24 hours. You can read the whole story in MOTORRAD 7/2017 (from March 17th at the kiosk) and MOTORRAD 8/2017 (from March 31st at the kiosk).

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Heavy

14/15
Mission: From zero to 6,000 meters in altitude in 24 hours. You can read the whole story in MOTORRAD 7/2017 (from March 17th at the kiosk) and MOTORRAD 8/2017 (from March 31st at the kiosk).

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Honda

15/15
The crew (from left to right): Carlo Fiorani (PR Manager Honda MotoGP), Francesco Catanese (rally driver and Motociclismo employee), Salvo Penisi (Metzeler / Pirelli), Karsten Schwers (MOTORRAD top tester) and Fabio Mossini (enduro Sports driver from
the Honda South America Team).

to travel

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Record attempt

The Nevado Ojos del Salado. 6893 meters high. The destination in the north of Chile for record hunters from all over the world. We too want to dare. Our goal: to ascend from the Pacific to 6,000 meters within 24 hours.

Jorg Lohse, Karsten Schwers

03/30/2017

Where do you manage to get really high in the shortest possible time and comparatively less than 100 kilometers? This is actually only possible in the so-called Little North of Chile. Our route for the altitude record drive starts on the Pacific coast south of the seaside resort Bahía Inglesa and stretches over the 118,000-inhabitant city of Copiapó on Highway 31 up to Laguna Verde at over 4,300 meters. Around 70 kilometers from the border to Argentina, it then goes into the unpaved terrain. Two refuges, the Refugio Atacama (5230 m) and the Refugio Tejos (5837 m), serve as fixed and orientation points to get as close as possible to the volcanic tip of the Nevado Ojos del Salado.

Buy complete article

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado

With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado
Record attempt

8 pages) as PDF

€ 2.00

Buy now

So much for the facts. Now to our starting point: A meter high, weathered steel cross marks the end. Huge waves crash against the rocky cliffs, we greedily suck the salty sea air deep into our lungs. It is unbelievable how much we can suddenly taste the oxygen, and actually enjoy it. What a precious moment! After the days in the lonely and dust-dry heights of the Atacama, we can’t get enough of this huge natural spectacle on the Pacific. If there is a perfect starting point for our “From zero to 6000” challenge, then it is right here. Our 24-hour run on the Ojos del Salado couldn’t be ushered in more dramatically.

The sun is steep above us, meanwhile it’s over, it’s time. There is not much to talk about now, we nod each other encouragingly, then we start the bikes and kick off the twins. The wheels spin briefly in the Pacific sand, but then we quickly have the familiar hum and buzzing in our ears that we are used to when coarse-tread tires rotate on asphalt.

Changing tires at 4500 m takes too much effort

During our high-altitude training and first excursions towards Ojos del Salado, we realized that we are lost with the usual on- / off-road tires and that we will only get on with real cross tires. But changing tires on five bikes at 4500 meters has its pitfalls. In the low-oxygen mountain air, taking off and pulling on and assembling in our improvised outdoor workshop turns into real drudgery. We had initially made the plan to drive the record drive from the sea to the junction at Laguna Verde on tires suitable for asphalt and only then to change the tire. But after we needed more than four hours in the training phase to put the twins on the new hardcore off-roader MC 360 from Metzeler, the idea was quickly canceled. That would simply cost us too much time, energy and nerves in the 24-hour run. 

So right up there with the cross tires and hope that after hundreds of kilometers of asphalt the tunnels are still long enough to interlock deeply in the subsoil of the Atacama. In Copiapó – the only real town within a radius of 100 kilometers – we therefore increase the air pressure to 2.3 bar, and we can lower it again in the terrain. It’s stupid that we’re neglecting to take this opportunity to flood our tanks to the brim again. 80 kilometers, and a bar on the display is gone. The next refueling stop is not planned until our base camp on Laguna Verde, and until then it is still 230 kilometers. In their minds, everyone seems to be puzzling too much about the best possible route for the ascent, so that we simply overlook this supposedly mundane detail.

Lack of oxygen, stormy cold, unpredictable weather

Like a week ago, we leave the mining town of Copiapó and cross the Paso San Francisco towards Argentina. The only difference is that we already know exactly what to expect at the altitude: little oxygen, stormy cold and – despite the best prospects – unpredictable weather. Just like a few days ago when we were suddenly surprised by a nasty, torrential rain during high-altitude training on a trekking tour in the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park and returned to the base camp soaked to the bone. That too goes through our heads: What happens if the weather changes so quickly up there again? The mountain world still presents itself before our eyes in the best imperial weather, but that doesn’t mean anything, as we now know. 

At the beginning, our altitude meter account fills up in record time, we were amazed to find out a week ago that too. The CH-31 runs endlessly through the rugged, mighty and mostly nameless mountains. Every now and then we see a small mine entrance that has been dug into a steep mountain slope, but we rarely meet people. After just two hours, we penetrate the first peak at over 4,300 meters, before we descend slightly again to Laguna Santa Rosa to 3,750 meters. Already here, about 100 kilometers before the actual border to Argentina, we have to de-register with the Chilean border guards. We use the stop to finally fill up some fuel. But we hadn’t deposited much here, and it is still 70 kilometers to the base camp at Laguna Verde, where our actual petrol stocks are stored. At least there is still a bar in the display and it is not yet flashing. He doesn’t do that until 30 kilometers later. We step on the gas in a much more level-headed manner, because we do not know whether we will be using more fuel than usual as a result of the changed mapping. But luck is still on our side, with literally the last drop we roll out of the camp shortly after seven in the evening.

Our schedule fits. Six hours are over, we now want to treat ourselves to another twelve as a rest period, then we have six more the next day to complete the “Mission 6000” in our time window of 24 hours.

5901 meters in 21 hours and 20 minutes

Despite all the excitement, we can actually sleep. The air is freezing cold, but wonderfully clear when we get on our motorcycles the next morning. On the Paso San Francisco, we first walk a few kilometers back from the camp until we stand at the green sign that points through difficult desert terrain to Ojos del Salado. On the way to the first refuge, the Refugio Atacama at 5230 meters, we cross large sand fields that are furrowed by countless jeep tracks. We pass the ruts in a zigzag. Anyone who threads in here and is then levered out by a boulder inevitably lies on the flap.

After 20 kilometers, the red Atacama container shines against us against a blue sky – wow, the first important stage is over, we hit it with our hands. But the tricky key point is yet to come, the passage further to Refugio Tejos can only be negotiated via an extremely steep and completely silted up ascent. And that’s exactly what caused us considerable problems on our first exploration tours. We decide to leave the two DCT Africa Twins with the automatic transmission better. If so, this ascent is only possible with the three bikes with shorter gear ratios and conventional manual transmissions. Now it is good that we have the feather-light Crosser – the CRF 450 RX – with us as a scoutmobile. Again, there are many car tracks that can master this nasty place at walking pace thanks to four-wheel drive. But that’s not an option for motorcycles, especially our Honda Africa Twins, which weigh over 220 kilograms. We have to build up speed so as not to dig in hopelessly. And again we hope that no boulders hidden deep in the sand will catapult us out of the saddle. Whoever lies here has lost. In order to pick up the bike again, at least four people have to work really hard at this height. 

One after the other we take off. Amazing how fluffy everything suddenly turns out to be. Of course, we are filled to the tip of our hair with adrenaline, and at this moment we no longer notice that the air is getting thinner and thinner. Almost like a dream walk, we can master this point today that left us in despair a few days earlier. Craziness! The Tejos container appears, someone has scribbled 5837 meters with a pen on the red steel wall, and despite the nasty, loose scree we are walking on, it actually goes a little further up. But the magical 6000 are denied to us today. Snow walls in particular make it impossible. The Garmin shows us 5901 meters when we set up the three Africa Twins after 21 hours 20 minutes in bright sunshine for the group photo. And when Danilo presses the shutter release, we have Ojos del Salado too – damn salty eyes.

Record breaking? Yes. Record broken? no.


With Africa Twins on the Ojos del Salado


Gigi Soldano, Jorg Lohse, Karsten Schwers, Danilo Vivan

The actual motorcycle altitude world record of 6,472 meters of the Chilean Gianfranco Bianchi cannot be broken with the heavy Africa Twins and due to the heavily snowed sections. So far, unique and therefore record-breaking, this run is to go from sea level to finally 5901 meters within 24 hours. At the end there are 380 kilometers on the trip counter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.