King of the Mountain

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“Unbelievable, tremendous, phenomenal…the Wranglers are unbeatable!” The raw emotion of Matthias Jeschke’s excitement was felt throughout the Jeep world on March 13, 2007 when his Extreme Events expedition team set a new Guinness World Record by climbing 21,804 feet to the rim of the world’s highest volcano, Ojos del Salado, in Chile.

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What made this challenge such an amazing feat was the fact that it was accomplished by driving. More specially, this record was achieved by driving two brand-new Wrangler JK Unlimited Rubicons, named ‘F1’ and ‘F2’, through a grueling two-week period in the second tallest mountain range in the world. Hurricane-force winds, temperatures near minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and obstacles that included malicious glaciers, fissured rock cliffs and volcanic sand, made the success of this expedition in the Chilean Andes that much sweeter.

The twenty-one-person team from Germany began its expedition to the Chilean Andes on March 4 with the plan to gather the next day in Copiapo, a small mining village located in the desert sands of Chile. After one day of preparation that included everything from logistical support to national TV press coverage, the team began its trip to base camp.

En route to base camp at an old police station, several members of the team began to feel the physical effects of high elevation including shortness of breath and dizziness, both common symptoms of high altitude sickness. Considering the fact that base camp for the Extreme Events team was situated at an altitude higher than the tallest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, the minor symptoms the team experienced were merely a hurdle along the way and a true testament to their determination in achieving the goal:  to set a new Guinness World Record ™. A restless night at elevation would eventually become a precursor for the remainder of the trip; however, it didn’t stop the team from completing several important hikes from base camp that were necessary to help them continue to acclimatize to the significantly lower oxygen levels and bitter cold at elevation. The day would also prove to be a big one for the two Wrangler JK Unlimited Rubicons as their capabilities were challenged and tested on the rocky, boulder-infested terrain.

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