Category: Polar


In March 2014 I travelled to the Kola Peninsula in the far north of European Russia. The logistics of day 1 were interesting as it involved leaving Prague at 12.30pm, flying to St Petersburg before arriving in Murmansk at 2.30am. I repacked my bag and managed to lie down on  bench for 45mins before I went outsode to get the bus to the city centre. There I sourced some petrol for my stove whcih wasn’t easy as I had to ask a motorist to buy it for me as 5litres is the minimum buy and I just wanted 800ml! Then I took a bus, 2 hours to Olenegorsk, followed by a smaller bus to Revda one of the final settlements before the tundra wilderness extends east, arriving there at 12.30pm. After a short walk around and a visit to the local shop I met a local man with whom I spoke in Russian for several minutes.Hhe was surprised that i wanted to go alone to Seydozero lake and he gave me a good tip which was to take a taxi to the factory marking the start of the trailhead. It cost only 100rubles and was a good idea for the walk was uphill on  a boring asphalt road for 8km….Fitness

 

By 2pm I had signed myself in at the office as going through to the tundra and I was soon folowed by  a few dogs as I walked through the factory and upwards toward the pass some 7km away and several hundred metres higher. I soon put the snowshoes on and made good progress, reaching the pass within a few hours. The wind was blowing hard but I was well equipped. I was slightly concerned about finding the route down but in the end it was not a …


extreme-winter-swimming-in-murmansk-russia
For the last few years I had been thinking more about making a trip to the arctic, combining winter swimming with traditional polar travel. This went from fanciful idea to reality, mainly as I realized that I had a lot of the necessary skills for such a trip, namely tolerance to cold, endurance and a general indifference to hardship both emotional and physical. (after dealing with a murder the former becomes easier)….

Fitness

Well, I was something of an expert in tolerance to cold water so combining this with my abilities on cross country skis which I had been developing for the last 3 years I was looking forward to the trip with relish. I had visited arctic Alaska in 2011 and on that occasion I had recieved a wake up in the form of the powerful nature and therefore I prepared well and constantly compelled my club colleague and team mate for the trip Matej to do the same. An incredibly strong man but he was yet to taste the arctic so I had to reassure him that although western Spitzbergen might not be completely extreme it would certainly be no walk in the park as we flew into 78° north roughly halfway between the Norweigian mainland and the north pole.

I prepared well and with hindsight the only mistake was with the small amount of snacks packed to be eaten each day during the short breaks from skiing, (and even that was something I suspected). I was right that I had just enough snacks for 6 hours but after that it was a problem and so was the single 0.75l thermos. I was also right that the 50g of “hunters” salami would prove to be the tastiest of all the snacks. However, I was wrong about the …