It'll be a World Record! reported by Bill Johnston

The World's Record for the highest altitude driven to by car has just been beaten!

Click through for a closer look...On Saturday, the 21st of April 2007, two Chilean people beat the "Driving to the highest altitude by car" world record on the slopes of the Ojos del Salado volcano, in the Atacama desert, Chile.

Gonzalo Bravo, the driver and his spotter, Eduardo Canales, reached the 21,942 ft in their tiny Suzuki Samurai.

The Record

The new record of 21,942 ft is actually in the process to be corroborated by "The Guinness World Records".

{update - Confirmed by Guinness in July 2007}

Click through for a closer look...Click through for a closer look...The Car

The rig that they drove was a 1986 Suzuki Samurai. It was heavily modified by Gonzalo, adding stronger axles, lower gear ratios, air lockers, bigger tires and Supercharger.  


Third Try

Click through for a closer look...Click through for a closer look...This record was reached on the 3rd try.

The first try was on Jan 1st, 2007 when a sudden and very strong snow storm made it impossible to attempt any reasonable altitude. The second try was a month ago that ended when the car caught fire at 20,731ft due to a failed hydraulic reservoir that melted due to high exhaust temperatures.

Both tries were on the same volcano on the Chile-Argentina border.


Terrain Difficulties

Besides the amazing height and lack of oxygen, the most difficult thing was the variety of terrain that they had to drive trough. The terrain on the Volcano included steep climbs, huge rocks, snow, glaciers and deep sand. Although these are challenging in their own right, they are usually not found all in the same trip.


"The most difficult section was to cross a half a mile on the main glacier at 21,000ft, basically because the huge holes on the ice were covered by the fresh snow that fell that Monday and made it impossible to determine how the terrain really was underneath. This meant I had to make no mistakes, because we could not stop our run under any circumstance, we were absolutely alone up there" said Gonzalo Bravo.


Before Leaving

Click through for a closer look...This was the result of almost a year of preparation and planning. On the left you can see the peak that they parked on top of marked by the red arrow.

The track was analyzed through satellite pictures, cartography, and many conversations with local people that knew the volcano by previous car and climbing expeditions.

The rig was tested on the same chain of mountains there in the Andes, but lower and closer to Santiago, the capital.

Another thing was the personal training of the participants. They had to be prepared for the huge physical effort required at that altitude.


Click through for a closer look...The Budget

This was a very low budget expedition. Gonzalo got the resources from some Companies that trusted the project, several friends, relatives and his by using his own money. To the right you can see Gonzalo doing some supercharger maintenance at 15,000ft.

Click through for a closer look...From this budget, the expedition was developed without any additional support. This was going to be only two guys alone in the middle of the Andes that had to beat the mountain by themselves.

As reference only, the previous expedition was developed by 20 people and 7 brand new cars. The first Guinness record was set by Volkswagen and had a cost of around 500,000.-


Click to see the ocal news report from ChileClick on the TeleTrece link on the right to see the local news report from Chile. It requires RealPlayer. Click here to download RealPlayer. You can also see it on YouTube.

Previous record

Click through for a closer look...The previous three Guinness World Records were done by Germans, and on the same volcano with a budget several times larger than this Chilean expedition. The last expedition was lead by Mathias Jeschke, and set the record at 21,804ft.




iZook Connect on Facebook: