How do you relate to The Arctic

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Golomyanniy island Russian Polar Base, Arctic ice melting. MLAE-2011

Russian Arctic Expedition MLAE-2011. Russian Arctic Ocean ice Expedition.
Cloudless sunrise after frigidly cold night. Atmospheric pressure has gone down. Wind is out of the south. Light snowfall. It is splendidly nasty. I am sitting on Golomyanniy island Polar station. Behind are seemingly endless 24 hours of driving over shore ice belt of the island Oktyabrskoy Revolyucii.
Further on, closer to Sredniy island, border guards make us promise to join them tomorrow in banya. And at last, the long awaited “polyarka” Polar Base with sourdoughs – Lutchnko and Omelchenko. Anatoliy is a young father of Svetlana’s two year ols boy. He is leaving for the continent in a few days.

Igor Mihaylovich, on the contrary, has just recently entered the duty and along with two young meteorologists will remain here until spring. It partakes of homecoming. Laughing, they hand us our own forgotten here last time, towels and our two boxes full of metal scrap parts and engine oil are sitting there untouched from last visit. We will stay here for three days to do some maintenance work on vehicles and gear and to rest a bit and will head out once again. Although we are not yet certain if we will move north or south from here. Today’s task is to get in touch with all the competent sources and to get as accurate description of ice situation an movements for today.

Russians in the Arctic. Russian MLAE-2011 Expedition on
Golomyanniy island
Meteo Station
Arctic Research and Development.

We are presently on Golomyanniy.
Water is on three sides of the island. Anatoliy Omel’chenko who is here since the year 1991 and and he says that it is the very first time he sees it at this time of the year. We give ourselves two – three days to make the decision. Fortunately neither vehicles nor the gear require any serious repairs. Both Va’nkov and Zaitcev keep their restless hands busy implementing the improvements modifications thought up during the many long hours spent breaking the ice on the way. We will make the decision and we will immediately make it known to all of  you, our continental friends.

Vasily Elagin

Translated from Russian by Ilya Kovalev

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Arctic Explorer Alexei Zaitcev in MLAE-2011 near Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean. Russian Expedition to the North Pole

Yemelya-4 vehicles in Kara Sea, Arctic Ocean after night blizzard, MLAE-2011, Russian Arctic Expedition

Yemelya-4 vehicles in the Arctic after Blizzard. Russian Arctic Expedition MLAE-2011 driving from Russia to Canada over the North Pole. Arctic research and development Canada. Russia.

Russian Expedition MLAE-2011 Driving from Russia to Canada through the Arctic Ocean and the North Pole in amphibious "Yemelya" Vehicles built by Vasily Elagin. Kara Sea Arctic Ocean

MLAE-2011 Russian Arctic Exploration. Arctic expedition driving from Russia to Canada over the North Pole in amphibious Yemelya-4 vehicles. Kara Sea, Arctic Ocean

Sergey Isaev and Vladimir Obihod. Russian Arctic Expedition to the North Pole 2011 MLAE-2011

Russian Exploresr of the Arctic: Sergei Isaev and Vladimir Obihod inside Yemelya-4 amphibios vehicle.

April 17-19 2011 Russian Arctic Expedition

Arctic Sun MLAE-2011 Russian Arctic Expedition

Vladimir Obihod Arctic Explorer

Polar Bear tracks in the Arctic

Russian Arctic Expedition MLAE-2011, Arctic Explorers Vasiliy Elagin, Vladimir Obihod, Afanasiy Makovnev, Sergey Isaev, Andrei Van'kov, Aleksei Zaicev, North pole expedition, Driving to the North Pole

Arctic Polynyas, Thin Ice Yemelya Vehicles in water Russian Arctic Expedition

Kara Sea Arctic Ridges MLAE-2011, Russian Arctic Exploration, Russian Arcitic Expedition

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16th 2011

Getting through to Severnaya Zemlya has been quite something else. Not since the Pobeda Peak have I had to work this hard. The “warm” Kara Sea apparently had no intent of letting us leave it. Though it is starting to seem as though we are finally parting. I will never forget this pond, though. The view outside is beyond what Roerich could have dreamed up. A pastel-like sunrise, day-night. Outside is bright, ridges, icebergs, shore. We think to reach Golomyanniy Island by tomorrow night. The shore ice belt is solid. Although, every time we begin to dream is exactly when s@#%* happens. We shall try, though. Wind is moderate, inside the vehicles it is warm and in our sleeping bags – even warmer. Overall everything is great.
Sergey Isaev

Translated from Russian by Ilya Kovalev 

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 15th from Elagin

We got a good night of sleep in and the weather conditions improved, as well. Visibility is decent. First few hundred meters of traveling along the floe we spend the night on were deceivingly easy and had settle in rather a worry free disposition, considering that the shores of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago were some short 17 km away. These 17 kilometers however proved to be anything but short or easy. Heavy ridges with practically no flat spaces in between them, covered with freshly blown over deep fluffy snow. Vehicles, despite of their light weight and off-road prowess, could travel no more than a 100 meters at a time without needing assistance from the men, who then themselves had to put quite a bit of effort to cover these 100 meters on foot to catch up to the vehicles. The snow cover was so deep that each step of the way could come with a surprise sinking into the deep snow sometime knee deep, sometimes all the way to the armpits. Obihod did just that, and only remained afloat by spreading his arms wide to his sides to keep himself from going further down. Both Isaev and Zaitcev had to resort to “all—wheel drive” climbing snow banks on all fours. While yours truly, would climb on top of Yemelya’s roof every 100 meters with the hope partaking of the one Lenin must have cherished long before him – of seeing the way to the brighter and better future ahead. The vehicles with the caravan of trailers in tow twist like snakes between creations of ice and winds, their shapes reminiscent of pagan idol statues of Easter Islands standing on guard of this seemingly endless, silent grandeur.
By midday we made our way through to the area of lesser density of ridges, drove for several kilometers and just as we began to relax, the Kara Sea did not fail to surprise us with a large crack in the ice right across the direction of our path. It stretched as far as we could see in both directions. We were at this point exhausted and bewildered by the previous few hours of battling the ridges and could almost smell the land so closely ahead that we decided to risk crossing afloat. One hour later we were driving again. Two hours later we raised a toast to reaching the Land.
Vasily Elagin
P.S. Odometer reading: 2754 km, Wind: easterly and quite fresh -25C, Disposition – positive.

Translated from Russian by Ilya Kovalev 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

APRIL 12, MLAE-2011 Arctic Expedition

APRIL  12 2011

Yemelya vehicle's spacious interior MLAE-2011
Just 50 years passed since man first flew into space. The world back there, on the continent, has achieved amazing technological breakthroughs, and here, in our Kara Sea all remains unchanged, untouched pristine and primal as it has been for hundreds of thousands of years – the ice ridges, useful seawater, snow, wind and - though scarce this year – sun. The return back to our route has - because of unfavorable weather and terrain conditions - become a journey of itself, and tough one at that. Odometer reading of our navigator instrument is at 2715 km. The vehicles are standing up to our expectations and even exceeding them –capability of crossing tough ridged terrain is nothing short of incredible. The hull-bodies are completely watertight and amazingly spacious and comfortable for the crew day and night. Even a tall person sleeps comfortably on beds positioned across the vehicle body width for the night, shelves, drawers and all is about as well laid as in a recreational family mobile home.
Yemelya-4 vehicle easily accommodates seven man crew. MLAE-2011

Our nomadic lifestyle is tuned up at this point and we have gotten used to it. Our journey to the North continues slowly but steadily. We proceed in the following order: five men in the lead vehicle – driver, cameraman recording all the dramatic as well as not so dramatic moments for future generations to see, the sleeping body of the watchman, and two fellows who jump out of the vehicle just before every stop in front of an obstacle, grab their two ice picks off the special holders on “Yemelya’s” front bumper and let them loose on the icy obstacle.
Two men are in the following vehicle, the driver and the condolent fellow-traveler whose job is to admire the driver’s skill and to condole him through the moments of hardship. They also, root for the lead vehicle team and timt to time even ask in voices full of hope for the negative response – “Do you need help up there?” Thankfully our wise commanding authority rotates the staff of both crews daily so as to assure a well-balanced personality development of all expedition members. And thus we proceed. All the best and well-balanced to you.

Vasily Elagin

Translated from Russian by Ilya Kovalev 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 10th 2011

As per the advice of Bychenkov from AARI (Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute)  “to look for our last chance East of us”, we did turn East and there it was. After four short hours of sleep we attacked our the ridges befringing polynya and by 1300 hours found ourselves upon the floating ice of, by now familiar to us, Kara Sea.
Many thanks for the correctly interpreted and timely delivered to us images of the ice!

We traveled on fairly uncomplicated terrain, for a while, but short lived was our joy and we very soon encountered ridges reaching out as far as the horizon. Polynya that stretched along our path to the right of us came to save the day. It was covered with ice we could drive on. But only fast, we could not stand or stop on it. Occasionally there were pitfalls. We moved along the “shore” at full throttle, solving problems like “30 degrees – water!” on the fly. Thus,  dodging water holes, we ended the day upon one cozy ice floe with the coordinates of N78° 30' and Е93°.

Vasily Elagin.

Translated from Russian by Ilya Kovalev

Friday, April 8, 2011

April 8 2011

Apr 8
I’ll keep it short today due to tiredness. The ice floe itself has drifter off, leaving us on the shore ice belt by 0430 hours on Sivash. A large bearded seal watched us as if wondering: “what are they doing wondering around here?” And we would be happy to leave ourselves, yet the Kara Sea has got a hold of us and does not let go. While our avant-garde went to off to check the ice situation around, we did a complete inventory of everything: ropes, diesel, manhood and humor. From the looks of it we are still doing alright.
Vasily Elagin. 

Translated from Russian by Ilya Kovalev 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7 2011

We are presently near Voronin Island. A tall lighthouse is visible from here, but we are separated from it by a large polynya ranging from 300 to 3000 meters in width. To cross over to the shore ice belt we need to find the place where the polynya is most narrow. Wind is out of North East and strengthening. Driving north along the polynya we find a narrowing of no more than 200 meters in width covered with thin ice. Men come out on the ice with the picks, and report back that they think the vehicles without trailers will be able to make a dash and reach the water without falling though the ice. 
Factoring in the wind we pick the spot on the other side where to get out of the water. The decision to cross afloat is made. 

We prepare the boat, the blocks, the dollies and Kevlar hawsers; we designate responsibilities and roles between members of the crew; everyone will be involved. By now the thin ice cover begins to tighten around the open water until it vanishes right before our eyes.  The water still, however, remains open to the right and to the left. Our only chance at crossing now is to drive fast over the thin ice and dive into the still uncovered water.

Ice fields close over the water completely and begin to crawl onto one another and soon become drivable The vehicles are speeding over 12 sm ice. It is sags, but holds! Now trailers. We have six of them. The “dispatcher” gives the go ahead to the first “train” consisting of three trailers. Kevlar cables are tied to the hitch of “Yemelya-4”, guide dollies with blocks are stuck into the ice and the “train” is underway. Going over a stretch of thin ice the trailers fall through it and are now floating on their tires. Our team gets to pulling the cables by hand to help “Yemelya” and eventually the trailers with our food, fuel and personal belongings roll out of the water and onto the ice. All things are safe, secure and dry in the water tight plastic barrels. Second train overcomes shorter distances  from one ice field to another. We gather all the metal gear.

Translated from Russian by Ilya Kovalev 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

MLAE-2011 Kara Sea, Pancake Ice. Vasily Elagin

APRIL 6 2011

Yemelya-4 crossing open water in Kara Sea, Arctic Ocean. MLAE-2011
Yemelya-3 sliding off into polynya, Kara Sea, Arctic Ocean. MLAE2011
The expedition has covered 2558 km since leaving Urengoy. We are currently at the latitude of Voronin island and seven kilometers to the east from it. In front of us is polynya. It separates us from the long-awaited shore ice belt which we believe continues all the way to Sredniy island. Last three days were spent battling the ridges and polynyas. We had never before in all of our preceding expeditions to the Arctic encountered such density of obstacles per kilometer. Kara Sea fast tracked our new recruits’ apprenticeship course. Each day requires the use of the entire arsenal of our ice ridge negotiation instruments.
Ladder driving course.
In the Kara Sea we encountered a thoroughly new to us type of obstacle: fields of pancake ice with round “pancakes” from 5 to 20 meters in diameter, with icy snow fringes, some over a meter tall. Between them – cracks up to a meter deep. Driving over these, “pancakes” is and experience you wouldn’t wish to your worst of enemies, not to mention our beloved “Red” and “Green” buggies. They drive over this horrible terrain in first and second gear while managing to pull three trailers after them, which puts great strains on their transmissions. But thus far the machines are handling it well. We all miss our friends and relatives and send greetings to everyone back home.

Vasily Elagin.

Translated from Russian by Ilya Kovalev