On the Plain of Horses the Chigidi Mountains dominate the horizon.

The rugged ranges of the Chigidi Mountains cover nearly half of the Plain of Horses. The northern slopes average between 7,000 to 10,000 feet, while many of the peaks of the eastern ranges top 15,000 feet. The Chigidi Mountains provide a natural barrier against invasion from the north and east, but they also make life difficult for the tribes who have settled there. The mountains are rocky and barren, making farming nearly impossible except on the slopes bordering the taiga. There are few accessible passes, particularly in the eastern ranges. The peaks of the northern ranges are covered with ice and snow the year round. It is so cold there that even in summer a man’s breath freezes and forms icicles on his nose and mouth.

Mount Or-Ghash, a western slope on the northern range, is a favored holy place of lamas and those on religious pilgrimage. The pass to Mount Or-Ghash is lined with 100 caskets set out at intervals of about 100 yards. The caskets are a memorial to Or-Ghash Gol, the most revered high lama to have ever lived in this part of the country. Pilgrims are required to place a khtagh (scarf) or other offering on each casket. The location of the real casket is kept secret by the high lamas living on the mountain. Every spring, they put a fresh set of clothes in the real casket. When the clothes are removed in autumn, they are torn and soiled.

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