Mercedes-Benz Unimog Sets High-Altitude World Record After Climbing Chilean Volcano

Life ain't easy at 21,692 feet—regardless if you're human or machine.

Daimler AG—© Daimler Truck AG

Two Mercedes-Benz Unimogs recently made it to heights that no other car or truck ever has, and as expected, they looked absolutely beastly while doing it. The legendary off-roaders were part of an expedition to set up an emergency radio system on a Chilean volcano, which also happened to net one of them a record in the process.

Both trucks made it to a high-altitude camp at 6,100 meters, though only one is said to have pushed on to break the world record. The modified Unimog U 5023 crested 6,694 meters—for those counting—that’s 21,692 feet...a little more than four miles above sea level.

 

A 10-person team made the trek led by Matthias Jeschke, who owns an appropriately named company called Extrem Events. The two trucks were provided by Mercedes-Benz for the team to use in their expedition, which involved installing four emergency radio units on the Ojos de Salado in Chile. It’s the highest volcano in the world and makes up part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Complicating things further for the Unimogs and the people inside was the fact the volcano lies in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth. 

Because Mercedes-Benz itself provided support for the expedition, the team had access to these absolute apex predators of off-roaders. Both vehicles were equipped with special tires and winches, as well as a variable center of gravity balancing system that was configured by the Unimog Museum, engineers from the Unimog development team, and a Unimog body maker.

Jeschke himself has the high-altitude street cred to match the Unimog’s off-road abilities. In 2014, he set the world record for trucks at altitude in a Mercedes Zetros. That climb reached 6,675 meters, but his new record is a benchmark for all wheeled vehicles, beating the old figure set by a 1986 Suzuki Samurai on the same volcano. The tiny Suzuki's 6,688-meter record stood for over a decade until it was broken by the giant German trucks and their “Extrem” pilots.

h/t: CNET Roadshow

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