The updates has been poor from my side. But I'm working very hard with my next projekt and it is just not enough time for everything. It's 2 weeks exactly until I'm flying out from Norway to Russia! - Yes, you heard right. I'm going to Siberia in Russia to cross LAKE BAIKAL!
If you have never heard about Lake Baikal I will tell you some incredible facts about this amazing Lake.
Lake Baikal is located in Southern east Siberia and is the deepest and oldest fresh water lake in the world, with a depth on 1,642m and 25-30 million years old! The lake containing 22-23% of the worlds fresh surfaces water. Lake Baikal also considers among the world's clearest lakes. When the lake is frozen the water is so clear that you can see various objects as deep as 40 meters.
Something that I found very special is that Lake Baikal is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of them exist nowhere else in the world. The worlds only fresh water seals lives in Lake Baikal.
The lake is surrounded by high mountains and has 330 inflowing rivers but only one outlet, the Angara River! It is 27 islands in Lake Baikal, the largest Island is Olkhon island.
Now when you know some cool facts about Lake Baikal I will tell you about my project.
I'm going to cross Lake Baikal by foot and solo! The length of the lake is 636km, but I'm expecting to be covering about 700km. The lake is also 79km wide so I will have to be very good with the navigation to walk in a straight line and not covering more kilometers than I need to.
I will start at the southernmost part of the lake in Kultuk and walk all the way up to the northernmost settlement of the lake, a place called Nizhneangarsk. If I succeed on this project I will become the first women to covering that exactly distance solo.
Strong winds, freezing cold temperatures, ice cracks, bears and loneliness will be few of the challenges out there!
The frozen lake is very safe to walk on. The ice is 40cm- 1 meter thick and the ice can tolerate vehicles of about 15 tonnes. But of course it is areas with weak ice and there is cracks in the ice so I have to be careful. It is 33 billions cracks across the ice on the lake. The ice is cracking all the time, When the frost is very heavy, the cracks divide the ice into different sections. The length of these cracks can be 10km to 30 km and 2-3 meter wide. When these cracks happens they are followed by a loud CRACK that sounds like a thunder or gun shot!
It will be pretty scary to sleep in the tent and listening to these cracks and also feel the lake shaking.
Strong winds and freezing cold temperatures is my biggest challenge out there! The temperatures are between minus 20 to minus 30 but can go as low as minus 40, and with wind on that it is high risk for frost bites and hypothermia. - Let's say it is only minus 20 but the wind is 20 m/s the temperatures is like minus 38! With the wind only being like 4m/s and the outdoor temperature is minus 20 with the wind it will feel like minus 29. It is FREEZING! When you are on the move it's fine as long as no wind.. But when you stop for a little break we are only talking about seconds before you are getting cold. Your hands is the hardest part to keep warm. My feet is usually fine. I will come back to this subject later in this post or in another blog post.
Bears are usually asleep in the winter as they are hibernation. But there is bears that of some reason doesn't go to sleep in the winter. I have talked to people who actually spotted a bear on the shore at Lake Baikal last year. The risk is very little but you can never be sure and you are better to be prepared for the worse. It's wolves in the area as well, they are not any danger for us humans but of course they are dangers animals that you should have respect for. Talking to somebody who has visit lake Baikal before told me that he got told by the locals that the wolves are struggling to found food during the winter and they have been crossing the ice from west to east. Maybe they can get the smell from fish on the lake from the fisherman.
Loneliness is a tough one. You have to be very strong when you are on your own! There is no one to motivate you when it is tough, there is no one to talk to and no one to help you when things goes wrong. You have to be able to look after yourself in the harshest and toughest conditions. One little mistake in cold temperatures can cost you the life. It's very important to stay calm, be confident and always think 3 times before you act! A little thing like taking your gloves off in the wind without paying attention, you might loose them and then you are without gloves. Of course I carry extra but I will need them all during the trip and I only have one pair of the most extreme ones.
// Gina Johansen xx