Adverse weather conditions and an insurmountable rock barrier thwarted the efforts of a team of extreme sportsmen trying to set a new world record for high-altitude driving. The team attempted to reach the highest point on earth accessible to motor vehicles — the 22,600 ft. Ojos del Salado, the world’s tallest active volcano, located on the border of Chile and Argentina.
The expedition team used Rheinmetall MAN HX 4×4 and HX 6×6 trucks, vehicles Rheinmetall MAN said are used in the armed forces by nations such as the United Kingdom and Australia, serving logistical roles during deployment operations. The trucks were selected for their ability to deliver maximum traction in all kinds of terrain and in all climatic conditions. The trucks can perform in temperatures ranging from -51° to 120°F.
The expedition began on Nov. 6 and the effort was profiled in the “Innovative Uses of Horsepower” section of the December 2017 issue of Diesel Progress North American. The lead 6×6 truck reached a height of 20,177 ft. before the team was forced to turn back because of the conditions. The world record is 21,948 ft., set on the same peak.
“We fought our way up to a respectable altitude, but the conditions were extremely difficult, making a further ascent impossible,” said team leader Matthias Jeschke, who is already the world record holder. “Trying to continue would have been irresponsible. We made the right decision. For a project like this to succeed, a multitude of factors have to coincide perfectly. The one thing we were missing was that last little bit of luck.” Another effort to break the record is being considered, Jeschke said.
The HX 6×6 truck was powered by a six-cylinder inline MAN D2066 diesel engine qualified for military fuel operation rated 440 hp and 1548 lb.ft. of torque. The HX 4×4 truck used a MAN D0836 diesel engine rated 340 hp and 922 lb.ft. of torque. Each truck was further modified to operate in altitudes higher than 16,000 ft.