Calgary father, son duo embark on 'Expedition Mongolia,' leaving cellphones behind for one month

While many teens can't imagine life without being connected to the Internet or their cellphone, 18-year-old Calgarian Khobe Clarke is choosing to leave his devices and disconnect on a Mongolian adventure with his father, outdoor enthusiast Jamie Clarke.

Dubbed Expedition Mongolia, the pair will depart from Calgary next week. 

Adventure is no stranger to Jamie, who has scaled Everest twice, taken on the Seven Summits and even crossed Arabia's Empty Quarter by camel.

Now, with his son by his side they plan to motorcycle across Mongolia from Ulaanbaatar heading west, hiking peaks — including the country's highest, Khüten — along the way.

And, the Clarkes will be filming their adventures, doing interviews about their experiences.

'Mongolia would get it done'

The primary goal of the trip is to get both Khobe and Jamie away from technology. 

"The is really about the chance to spend a month with my son as he graduates high school and heads off into this new chapter in his life," Jamie told The Homestretch on Wednesday.

"But, the hidden agenda is we have to go to great lengths today to get away from technology and I can't seem to pry that smartphone out of his hand. So, I figured a month in Mongolia would get it done."

Khobe says he's not resistant to it. He's looking forward to disconnecting from his phone, and reconnecting with his dad.

But, he knows setting aside his devices will be a challenge. In fact he says the longest he's gone without a device in his teenage years is just two or three days. 

"Being away virtually is weird for me," he said. "The motorcycling Mongolia, the mountain, the travel, the filming it all, I'm so excited for," he said. "I am terrified of being disconnected."

'Digital detox'

The 18-year-old says when his dad initially floated the Expedition Mongolia idea by him he knew right away it'd be life changing.

"It's interesting how something that I love to do trumped my want to be connected," he said. "If I went on this trip with my phone I'd probably at first be a lot more inclined to [Instagram], but I got over that pretty quickly because I'm excited."

And, Jamie, who is active on social media — sharing his adventures that way — says having no phone will be a challenge for him too.

Courtesy Dave Imbach

"It's pretty easy for me to be a judgmental jerk about this because I have to do important things like follow the news and do work, and Khobe's doing Snapchat and watching YouTube," he joked. "But the reality is I bet the two of us are on these devices equally."

Jamie said as much as he gives his son a hard time, he knows he's just as addicted to his device. 

"I need the digital detox as much as he does and that's kind of the spirit of the trip," he said.

And, the pair say they're not trying to say technology is terrible. They're just starting to wonder who is in control of their lives.

"Is it the companies that make that stuff and the apps that we use or are we in control of it?" wondered Jamie. "This is a chance for us to recalibrate." 

But, he said you don't have to go to Mongolia to do it.

Everyone can take a digital break

"You could do this with your family at the dinner table, you could do it in a local park, you can decide to put your phone away and this is just the chance for us to do it at an extreme level for an extended period of time," he said.

And, at a time when Khobe is about to gain more independence and embark on a new chapter in his life, he's looking forward to some father-son time beforehand.

"I feel like I might know him better than I ever did without the distraction of a screen. I do feel like me and my dad are pretty similar in a lot of ways and we get along and have similar interests," he said. 

"But if he pisses me off maybe maybe I'm the only one that's gonna come back," he joked.

And the teen says he's also looking forward to ridding himself from the pressures of things like social media, at least for a while. 

"It's more you know my need and the constant stress of making an appearance on stuff like Instagram or Snapchat," he said. "I think it's affected a lot of people my age and I feel like everyone at a point of their lives, and even daily lives, should be able to take a small break."