I trekked 1,012 miles solo across Mongolia.
Byline: JEZ HEMMING
AN extreme walker looks set to be the first person to traverse Mongolia solo.
Ash Dykes from Old Colwyn has braved sandstorms, blizzards, deadly snakes, dehydration, heat exhaustion and was even offered a nomad's wife, while crossing some of the harshest terrain on earth.
So far he has completed 1,012 miles - the fastest anyone has ever travelled the route alone, in a gruelling 59-day trek.
Now he is pressing on with the final leg, a further struggle across 318 miles with his 20st trailer, on which all his survival equipment and provisions are transported.
"Sometimes, after only 10 minutes, I was wondering how I would get through the day," said Ash, 23, speaking from Govi-Ugtaal, where he arrived just in time for the annual Naadam festival.
"I got lucky arriving here when I did," he told the Daily Post.
"I looked around and realised I was the only westerner there.
"I'm just relaxing for a couple of days before attempting the final leg and I'm in high spirits.
"At times it's extremely difficult, but I'm feeling strong and I'm looking forward to finishing. Each day I complete I realise I'm one step nearer the end.
"But I'm delighted to have achieved what I set out to do."
The last person to attempt the challenge - British adventurer Ripley Davenport - only managed 1,012 miles before abandoning the crossing.
The route goes from the west to east of the vast country, taking in the Altai mountains, Gobi desert and large open grassland areas, known as the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe.
If the varying terrain was not enough of a challenge, daily temperatures can fluctuate by 35 degrees centigrade.
"Going through the Altai mountains was tough, pulling the trailer over rocks and boulders," he revealed.
"In the Gobi desert there were severe sandstorms and pulling the trailer through that sand was tough."
His odyssey through the 1.5m sq km landlocked state, which has a smaller population than Wales (2.8m), has been helped by regular contact with his support team in the capital Ulan Bator and his family.
His father Phil revealed he showed signs of what was to come from an early age.
"I would say he was always adventurous," he told the Daily Post.
"He would always weigh up the risks and this expedition has taken 12 months to plan."
Ash revealed language was not so much of a problem on his travels.
"I've got a piece of paper which explains who I am and what I'm doing," he revealed.
"Cars stop me, I show them the paper, then when I get to a new village, the people already know who I am."
Ash is looking ahead to his next big challenge but is remaining tight lipped about what it will be.
He is also filming his experiences for a production company, hopefully to be broadcast in the future.
From desert (main) to snow (inset) Ash Dykes has trekked across Mongolia