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There are only five

Mongolei/Schnee Camp — 31.10.2011

During my night shift I have the feeling that I simply get frost bite at my nose. I deeply slip in my sleeping-bag. Nevertheless, it does not last long and I get the feeling I urgently need fresh air. I wait a little longer, till I put out my head again from the sleeping bag. Immediately strikes me awful cold. I use this moment to listen outward. Is a foreign unusual noise to be heard there? Does a horse thief or even wolves creep around our camp? There is nothing to hear at the moment. The short moment has been enough to let hurt my face. Oh hopefully we do not get frostbite on the noses, I quietly pray. My feet feel like icicle. Oh my feet, I feel the beaming cold of the permafrost ground. It seems to bee much colder than before. It is 1:00 o’clock at night as I urgently must pee. Not 10 horses bring me out of here, I think. At 1:30 a.m. I give way to my urinary pressure. This horrible cold, I curse, sit up, slip of my sleeping bag and be packed immediately by the cold. Only dressed in my sleeping things I step in the snow. Quick I run to the tent side on which our thermometer hangs. Minus 30 C! Wow! This is very cold, I tremble more than I formulate. Only one meter away from the tent I pee in the snow. I lift my head aside and count the horses. One, two, three, four, five. I am about to be stormed back in the tent again as I briefly count once more. One, two, three, four, five. Fits, I say before myself and now turn to the entrance. Five??!! Where is the sixth horse? In the light of my forehead lamp I shine every horse in. Sar, Naraa, Sharga, Od, Bor. Who is absent?, Ah, Tenger is missing. Nevertheless, it cannot be that a thief selects the coldest night of my life to steal a horse in my damned night shift?, I tremble. Tanja! Tanjaaa!!! Yes! What’s the matter?, she answers from the tent.

Tenger is away I have no notion where. He has disappeared!, I shout desperately because of the cold and the crazy situation. Dress on something warm!, Tanja requests me as I check the horses individually still only wearing my sleeping cloth. Soon I ascertain that Tengers rope has broken off. No thief, I say feeling a bit more easy for a moment.

The rope has torn and he has walked off! , I shout. Put some warm cloth on Denis!, shouts Tanja demanding and passes to me my deel outside. Immediately I slip in the saving sheep coat. Then I put on my fur cap and thick gloves. Puh, this feels already better! Bilgee! Bilgeeee!, Tijmee (Yes) What is the matter?, he answers. Tenger is away. Juu!?, (What!?) Tenger is away, I repeat. It does not take long and Bilgee comes dressed in his winter deel and thick felt boots out of the tent.

In the light of our flashlights we pursue Tengers tracks. The experienced Bilgee can distinguish Tengers impressions from the other tracks which have pulled the horse last night here by the snow. I am amazed, because for me they all look alike. It lasts some time till I recognize the sign of Tengers tracks.

He drags a piece of short rope behind the end of it leaves a small long stripe in the snow. Now we trudge to the east along the tent. Do you need my help Denis?, asks Tanya. Remain lying, I answer, because a third person cannot do any more at the moment than we both.

Do not get lost!, warns us Tanja. I briefly pause and think about the consequences getting lost at these temperatures. No question, they would be deadly. Our tracks will always show us the way to the camp, I answer. But what is if the batteries of our forehead lamps fall out? I further consider. Okay, give me please the GPS out, I say to Tanja.

The GPS in the pocket I follow Bilgee and now Tengers track to the east. Bilgee talks continually quietly to himself. He seems to be confident and calmly. It is a bit eerie in the darkness with minus 30°C in the taiga. After statements of shepherds many wolves tear here horses or cattle. Our track in the forest ends in nothing. We turn back. Coming out on the clearing countless hoof impressions in the snow confuse us. The shepherd who passed through in the afternoon with his horse cookers has caused the trace chaos. Oh how should we find there our horse? Now Bilgee walks to the west. Slowly I understand his tactics. He paces the external trace border of our camp and follows every impression the circle has left.

“Juu tsch ügüj”, (“Nothing”) means Bilgee. Now only a direction remains. With cold hands, feet and face I crunch by the snow. “Maybe we recognize his eyes in the beam of light of the forehead lamps?”, I suggest to change our searching tactics. “Humph”, answers Bilgee and follows furthermore a track. While Bilgee concentrates on tracks in the snow, I am pointing the strong ray of my flashlight about the clearing and in the forest hoping to see the reflection of eyes. I have already almost given up hoping to find our Tenger again as I see suddenly flashing something. Without doubt, there are eyes. Because they are only 200 meters of our horses, indeed, it could be Tenger. “Bilgee!”, I quietly shout. “Look over here”, I say and hold the beam of light on the slightly moving pair of eyes. “Sain”, (“Good”) he says grinning. Quick we trudge in the direction of the luminous points. There he stands really peacefully under a tree scratching after eatable in the snow. Unfortunately, he has no leadership rope hanging on his neck.

Because Tenger is the shiest of all our four-legged companions, one needs a lot of experience to catch him. Bilgee quietly whistles a little song and acts thus as it would be the most normal situation of the world. He bends down and makes the horse believe he is working on his hobbles which are also open. Tenger is completely free. He snorts nervously and jumps back one step. Bilgee follows him still whistling. “Brrrrrr”, snorts the nervous horse. Bilgee kneels in the snow, gets the open hobble to touch and closes them. He reaches slowly the halter of the horse. “Good boy”, I whisper happy. Then we bind him again to his horse colleagues. I say “Tawtaj nojrsooroj”, (“good night”) to Bilgee. “Tawtaj nojrsooroj”, he answers friendly. “Bilgee?” “Tijmee?” “Tschin setgeleesee bajrlalaa (many thanks). You have made a fantastic job”, I say and press his hand.

It is shortly before 3:00 a.m. and still minus 30°C as I slip again in our tent. Quick I have crept away in my sleeping-bag. My feet remain cold up to the morning. I let pass my thought revue and come to the end that this night is the coldest up to now and probably also the most disagreeable in my present life.

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