Lake Khövsgöl is a high mountain lake at an elevation of 1.645m (5,396ft) above the sea level, located in the northwest of Mongolia.
The lake, also known as Lake Hubsugul, Khövsgöl Nuur and Khövsgöl dalai, is located near the border to Russia, at the foot of the permanently snow-capped Sayan mountains. From October the surface of the lakes starts to freeze, creating then 1.3-1.6 m ice thickness, and offering passengers a shortcut and respite from an otherwise uncomfortable journey across unpaved mountain tracks. The lake freezes so thick in winter that locals drive tanker trucks across it to get to Russia; it spends more time as a roadway than a waterway.
The lake is 136km long and 262m deep. Its high elevation means that ice remains on Khovsgol well into June, and even at the beginning of July there can be brief snow falls at Hatgal. On an otherwise smooth ride, ice drivers keep a wary eye out for pressure ridges, a break formed by expansion and contraction of surface ice. Straying too close can prove fatal.
This lake and its surrounding areas are simply stunning. It’s nicknamed "Younger sister of the Sister Lakes (Lake Khövsgöl and Lake Baikal)". Every winter, dozens of small vehicles ply the ice across the lake. Traversing a frozen lake in temperatures dipping to 30 below poses a serious set of risks, however. Every winter some vehicles fall through the ice. The lake claims many lives. You need to know where to drive. Most years a truck or jeep will plunge to the bottom because someone drove on ice that was too thin.
Pic: Mongolian Bike