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‘People come, people go, and people disappear. But the mountains will always be there’

By ALLYSON SEABORN

Dr.Bayarsaikhan Luvsandorj Mongol, or simply “Bayar,” is a third generation medical practitioner specializing in gynecology and oncology here in UB. Most, however, recognize this colorful man as part of the Mongolian Mountaineering Team “KhukhTenger,” or “The Blue Sky,” who successfully climbed the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, in 2012.
He describes how “it’s not easy to explain exactly I was feeling when I was standing on top of the world. It was more like emptiness or full zero – or just a pure clean sheet of paper. After many years of preparation and dreaming, I was finally on the summit. In the first few minutes I felt nothing – no emotion. I summited Everest at 8:18 am on May 19th 2012 and stayed there for twenty minutes and waited for my team members. Eventually I had to climb down because of the extreme cold and strong winds. In the first few moments on top of Everest, I sat down and listened to myself, looking around. There was a real sense of space around me. In Mongolia we call this ‘sansarogtorgui.’ Then it took an enormous amount of strength to just stand up. I held my hands in the air and shouted, ‘Uunees deesh gazarugui’ or, ‘there is no land above me.’”
Apart from his successful career as a doctor, Bayar has also been a proud member of Rotary and a member of the first Mongolian speaking Rotary club in the world. “I served as club President and Assistant Governor. I also initiated, participated in and implemented a number of successful humanitarian projects in Mongolia and abroad. I am most proud of the fact that I was honored by receiving Rotary International’s top award, – Service Above Self.”
Bayar is also involved with numerous professional organizations and is a specialist in cervical cancer screening. He describes how as a vocational service volunteer, he has visited all twenty-one of Mongolia’s provinces over the last eight years. During this time, he’s personally examined 25,000 nomadic women, and in the process, has saved many of them from developing cervical cancer.
For fun, Bayar founded the Mongol Hiking Club in 2006. This club is the first of its kind in Mongolia and organizes a hike every Sunday, come rain or shine. “Regardless of the season or weather, our members hike every Sunday in the mountains around UB and organize trekking and climbing tours in Mongolia and abroad. Our hikers even reached Everest base camp in Nepal. Recently, we hiked and climbed Tavan Bogd in the Altai Mountains. I think the main reason I was successful on Everest, is because for the last seven years, I have hiked every week. I will continue to do so, as it is my way of life. I serve others, save others and climb high mountains.”
Bayar’s dreams and ambitions aren’t over yet – in fact, it seems they’ve only just begun. He wishes to one day climb all fourteen of the world’s 8,000 meter peaks. “In late August I will attempt to climb Cho Oyu and Shishipangma – both of which have been climbed by Mongolians, but my challenge is to try climbing both in one expedition. My group arrives back UB in November.”

We wish Bayar all the best with his future work and upcoming expeditions.

-Where were you born and where did you grow up?
-I’m a UB man. I was born in UB and grew up in Bagatoirog, where the National University is. My entire childhood was spent playing in the streets where the current Cuban and German Embassies are. These days I enjoy dining in restaurants there. It’s my comfort zone.
-Describe your most vivid childhood memory.
-In the late 70s I was a teenager walking along the road in Bayangol District. There was an old man sitting alone in a horse cart who passed me. Horse carts were common in UB at that time. Suddenly, a huge Soviet military truck sped past me and the horse cart. The horse was frightened and bolted instantly. The old man spontaneously jumped from the cart and hit his head on the road just in front of me. In a split second blood started streaming from his head and it was uncertain whether he was alive or not. There were hardly any people around, but I screamed ‘call an ambulance!’ I sat behind him and put his head on my leg. His hand was holding his whip still. He was unconsciousness, yet suddenly whispered “chu-chu.” His hand still clutched the whip and was shaking. Soon, the ambulance arrived and took him away. The poor man did not survive and I felt so sad and very sorry that I could do nothing to save him. I remember (as I washed the blood from my trousers later that night) thinking about becoming a man who could save others.
-What do you like most about Mongolia today?
-Personally, I enjoy the freedom to travel all around the world. I have visited more than fifty countries in the last twenty years. Certainly, any citizen will say that his or her country is the best. Without any doubt, I can say that for me Mongolia is the best place to live and feel fulfilled. Unfortunately, we have more and more materialistic people who destroy this land. I want to raise their consciousness – especially youths who need to be reminded about their rich heritage. For one hundred years it was hidden and forgotten, but now we actually have the answers to all questions if we simply look to our past and are mindful of our heritage. People are generally the same as they were a thousand years ago as they are now. Some are good and honest, while some are bad and sick minded. But they all need to live. Our ancestors built the strongest and safest nation, where we didn’t need locks on doors and didn’t need to live in fear. A person’s attitude is everything.
-What do you miss most about the Mongolia of the past?
-Perhaps I miss the fairness, justice and safety. Certainly we have had a lot of positive and rapid changes in the country recently, but at the same time I never imagined that so many bad things could happen to this country in modern times which didn’t exist in the past. I miss the times, when justice won. The patriotic education of Mongolian youth is needed in today’s schools.
-What’s your favourite holiday destination, either overseas or within Mongolia?
-I love the mountains. If I have time I always go hiking and climbing, higher and higher. I like to go to the Arkhangai province, Ikh Tamir soum, the Tamir and Chuluut Rivers, White Lake and Khorgo where all my ancestors are from. If you visit these places you will see the most beautiful natural scenery. I also love the Alps. Last year I climbed the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc – amazing mountains.
-Can you explain in English your favorite Mongolian expression or saying.
-I have my own saying: “People come, people go and people disappear. But the mountains will always be there.”
It would be good if we could remember we are all guests in this world. We are travelers for a very short period of time, and we call this “life.” Whoever you are, whatever amount of money you have, we all leave this world. Do not harm the land or nature. Love and respect each other. It is your good fortune to be able to meet each other in this short period of time here. Mongolians call it “Mother Earth” and a mother is always right and powerful. We can be successful in living with and in nature, but we can never win.
-What’s hopes do you have for the future of Mongolia?
-I believe in the future of Mongolia. I feel and discover more and more positive changes in people’s minds every day as I travel around the country. Changes inside people are essential for success. Everything is changing, like day and night, like climbing up and down. You cannot be always on the summit. In the last few hundred years things have changed adversely for Mongolia. It was necessary. Now it’s time to go up again. I believe that in roughly another 550 years, Mongolia will be a strong nation again. This has been the pattern in our history.
-Who inspires you?
-I would like to answer this in relation to climbing. Climbing is not easy itself; it may be dangerous. High altitude climbing is always exhausting and many climbers die from exhaustion. Every climb is difficult and different. I’m not an athlete; I’m just a regular gynecologist who spends the whole day in the office. Suddenly, in my 40s I started climbing high mountains and found it very challenging and exhilarating. In the short space of 16 months I have climbed eleven mountains above 4,000 meters, including Everest. When times were cold and tough and I tasted suffering in my month, I knew that nothing I experienced on the mountains compared to how our ancestors suffered and struggled for the independence of this country. Look at people like Manlaibaatar Damdinsuren who died after being tortured in prison. Before his death he said, “I will die standing against the occupants,” and stood up and died. We have many great Mongols who inspire us.
-What is your favorite pastime?
-Recently I started flying a motorized paraglider. It is said that I am the first MPG: Mongolian paragliding gynecologist. Learning to fly and become a pilot is not easy. You need strong will power, practice and practice. One day I will fly above the mountains. I also love to dance the Argentinian Tango, but I need more practice.
-What do you find most intriguing about foreigners living in Mongolia?
-I have had some contact with foreigners here. Occasionally, they join us for hiking on Sunday. Normally, if a person stays in Mongolia for a longer period of time, they feel more links with our nature and freedom. People are the same everywhere. They always need more love and peace.

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