Ruggedized Porsche 911 off-roaders climb world's highest volcano
Not long ago, Porsche showed off an inexplicable new pop-top roof camper for its 911 supercar. Now, it's sent a pair of offroad-prepped 911s up the side of the world's highest volcano in Chile for some equally inexplicable high-altitude testing.
Chile's Ojos del Salado has proven the perfect spot for automakers and motorcycle companies to test their vehicles in thin air, icy cold and off-road conditions that are rugged enough to make things fun. When the conditions allow, it's a beaut place to set the odd record as well, like Mercedes-Benz did with its Unimog truck in 2020, and Honda did with its Africa Twin back in 2017.
Both of these vehicles, you'll notice, are designed as rugged off-roaders. The Porsche 911 is manifestly not. So it's unclear what possessed the company to re-jig a pair of autobahn-slayers with roll cages, carbon seats, race harnesses, portal axles, raised suspension, lower gear ratios, locking diffs, winches, steer-by-wire systems, aramid fiber underbody protection, rugged bodywork, a relocated cooling system and giant, chunky off-road tires and send it up the mountain.
Well, let's be honest: it's absolutely clear what possessed Porsche to do this. Somebody wanted a sweet adventure trip and sold it to marketing as a chance to snap some sick photos. And sick photos were indeed snapped as endurance racing monster Romain Dumas hopped in and sent one of them up bouldery hills and across ice lakes to record a maximum altitude of 6,007 m (19,708 ft) before running into the kind of towering ice and snow walls that tend to call last drinks on these kinds of shenanigans.
Porsche is chuffed to note that the standard 911 engine performed just dandily at this altitude, despite temperatures around -30 °C (-22 °F) and the available oxygen in the air being half of what you get at ground level. So rest assured Porsche owners, your supercar can climb mountains... If you spend tens of thousands of dollars tarting it up for the gig.
"I guess the only machines anywhere in the world higher than us today were aircraft," said Dumas. "Right out of the box, the car was tough and nimble. We were hard on ourselves and really put it in the deep end for its first test, yet it felt at home. We have enormous respect for those who have gone higher. No one has seen so much ice and snow up towards the top of the volcano, but despite this we went over 6,000 meters up, to the point where the walls of ice and snow meant we could go no further. We’re really proud of what the car and the team are capable of first time out – hopefully we can count on many more adventures in the future."
Enjoy the ludicrous photos in the gallery, as well as the short video below.