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UNIMOG U 5023 – Climbing to new records

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A pair of Mercedes-Benz Unimog U 5023s have reached the highest altitude of any wheeled vehicle – further proof that they are among the most capable off-roaders in the world.

The trucks were driven up Ojos del Salado, the world’s tallest active volcano located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, to a record-setting altitude of 6 694 metres (21 962 feet) above sea level. That’s nearly the full height of the volcano, which is 6 893 metres high.

To put this in perspective, the Unimogs reached an altitude higher than the tops of Denali (20 308 feet) in Alaska and Mount Kilimanjaro (19 341 feet) in Tanzania. They also went higher than the Top Gear trio of Clarkson, Hammond and May when they went to the Atacama Desert. Those three made it to 17 200 feet before turning back due to lack of oxygen for both themselves and their SUVs.

The trip to this altitude wasn’t just for the record, though. The Unimogs were transporting a crew of 10 people to a high altitude camp on the mountain where they installed four radio transmitters that will be used for emergencies involving mountaineers and researchers. The U 5023s were custom-built by Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks for this trek, and featured special off-road tyres, tyre chains, winches and outriggers that alter the vehicle’s centre of gravity to help with the steepest ascents and descents.