Mercedes Unimogs set altitude record on volcano

Unimog driven to new high-altitude record

Two Unimogs supported an operation to install four emergency radios on the Ojos del Salado volcano. This is the tallest active volcano in the world measuring 6,893 meters tall (22,614 feet).

The Unimogs are U 5023 models that feature crew cabs and a soft top covered cargo area on the back of each truck. In the basecamps, the trucks are parked with the cargo areas facing each other and a tarp is spread across one side and the top to create a sheltered space. These are no ordinary Unimogs. They have big Warn winches on the front. There are giant off-road tires (like an Arctic Truck) and one of the Mogs features chains on its rear tires when they are climbing the volcano for the record. A system called “variable center of gravity balancing” is added to the trucks. Specialists from the Unimog museum, AS Soder (coachbuilding company), and Unimog engineers created the system. There are no specifics available as to what the system actually does, but it sounds very cool.

The trucks carried the 10-person team to install the emergency radios. The expedition was led by Mattias Jeschke, who has held the truck altitude record before. On a similar operation, Mattias’ team used a Mercedes Zetros truck and climbed to 21,889 feet in 2014. In 2007 a modified 1986 Suzuki Samari climbed to 21,942 feet to set the altitude record for a “car.”

Video of the trucks before the record

The Record

The Unimogs setting the record this time was more about opportunity than a dedicated mission to set the record. After installing the last radio at 6,100 meters (20,013 feet), the team turned the trucks up the hill and climbed to 21,962 feet.

Overall this expedition is full of two things that are great: the Atacama Desert and Unimogs. Achieving the record on the tallest active volcano in the world makes the record that much better.

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8 responses to “Unimog driven to new high-altitude record”

  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    That kind of landscape is right up my alley – beautiful! The filming irks me a bit though…the second video is drone footage of the trucks driving up their own tracks – again. It would be visually way more pleasing and also more interesting if they didn’t just re-drive in their own tracks. And “Extrem Events” is the kind of “denglisch” – German English – that is fully worthy of a solid

    Can you imagine people living at almost this height (14000 feet)? There are some Kyrgyz in the Wakhan corridor that live a very extreme existence:

    1. ptschett Avatar

      Having been to 10,000 feet, I feel out of breath just thinking about 14,000.

      1. danleym Avatar

        I live at 9,000, which is high enough. There’s a mountain nearby that’s just over 14,000 feet- I’ve been to the top but I can’t imagine living there.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Incidentally, 14000 feet was also the highest we got in Kyrgyzstan proper. Weird, moonlike landscape, yet, there was life everywhere still.

  2. desmo Avatar

    And the little drone is still able to fly at that height, I think this is also amazing.

    1. Christopher Tracy Avatar
      Christopher Tracy

      Ross and I discussed this last night while recording the podcast. My Mavic is only rated to 16,000 feet. I’m super curious what they were using to fly at 20,000 ft!

  3. Troggy Avatar

    “variable center of gravity balancing”


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