There are some people you just love getting phone calls from and one of those is XTM adventure ambassador Kristan Fischer.

Kristan Fischer
Two sentences that are a 100% guarantee on that call are

“You’re doing what?” and ”Yep we’re in”

In the past it’s been exploits like, the world’s longest Paramotor race in the USA, a 2700km crossing the Peruvian Andes on a 125cc mototaxi Tuk Tuk, a journey down the old HoChiMinh trail on a Honda Win 100cc motorcycle or a 2000km venture through Siberia on a vintage Russian Ural motorcycle in winter.

This last phone call though was definitely one of our favourites.

Kristan and a group of adventurous friends aka “The Silk Road Pirates” intended on becoming the first people ever to cross the Taklamakan desert in China by foot.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Taklamakan here is a quick run down.

The Taklamakan Desert is a little known desert that bridges the gap between China and Mongolia. When translated it means "sea of death." It is often referenced in written text that anyone who ventures into the desert, seldom comes back out. Approximately 1000km East to West and 400km North to South and a temperature range of over 60 degrees C

... Pretty much a death trap!

The stakes were high on this one. A single mistake could easily result in a loss of life.

The conversation ran as it usually does, After the initial,"You're !@# crazy!", we got down to business and he ran us through the different conditions his gear would need to overcome.

"The temperatures can get searing hot during the day so I need something with great breathability to keep cool and protect me from the sun. Being a desert the temps can plummet by over 40 degrees Celsius overnight so I need something warm to get through that.  The trek was expected to last a few weeks and as it was all on foot with no mobile assistance I need it to be weightless."

He was actually a bit surprised how quick we had the solution. “Simple mate” the MERINO170 range

Extremely lightweight and odour resistant to reduce pack size, highly breathable with a UPF of 50+ for those super hot days and thermo regulating to keep your core temperature warm during those cold nights.

With the gear sorted and the rout planned the Silk Road Pirates arrived at the edge of the desert and it was not what they had expected.

"We were expecting the first quarter of the journey to be like a hard gravel, relativity flat, and that's what we'd seen on the Google Earth satellite images, then we expected a big 1,500 foot monster mountain to climb, then big shifting sands after that.

To realise on our entrance that those nice, flat, lowly undulating, gravel plains we expected were actually rather large dunes - both my team-mates and I just looked at each other and our faces dropped.

If these are the small gravel patches what's going to be the big monster dunes when we get to the other end?'

Click below to follow their adventure and see if they managed to tackle the Taklamakan and successfully cross THE SEA OF DEATH


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