The most rugged Mercedes-Benz offered in dealerships today would probably be the G-Class. However, even the legendary G-Wagen in stock form isn’t enough for extreme off-roading, much less climbing a volcano.
For that, you need a Unimog, a truck that has now set a new altitude world record for wheeled vehicles at 6,694 m.
A ten-strong expedition team led by Matthias Jeschke climbed the highest volcano in the world, the Ojos de Salado in Chile using two Unimog U 5023 vehicles. In order to take on the extreme altitude of the Ojos del Salado, the Unimogs were extensively modified. They were equipped with special tires, extra strong winches, and even used special bodies with a variable center of gravity balancing system. The extensively modified Unimogs were developed and built by specialists at the Unimog Museum, Unimog bodybuilder AS Söder and by engineers from the Unimog development team.
The expedition wasn’t about setting a new world record though. The team’s initial task was to install four emergency radio units at various high-altitude camps on the mountain. In the event of an emergency, each unit can be used to contact the other three base camps of the Ojos del Salado. It is said that the new system will improve the safety of mountaineers and researchers alike.
Prior to this record, Matthias Jeschke and his team already held the previous world record using a Mercedes-Benz Zetros back in 2014. Aside from breaking the altitude record for wheeled vehicles, they also set the absolute world record for a wheeled vehicle driving at altitude.
If records are meant to be broken, we wonder how high the next vehicle can climb.