You’ve heard of a road trip. But what about an ice-road trip?!

You’ve had your intro posts already; now, if there are no questions from the audience, I’ll proceed to my next tale from the Far Northern side, which could have been titled “Yakutian ice roads heading north from Kolyma Highway“. But first, I think – an explainer…

What is an ice road? And what’s a winter road?…

But before I get to that, a few pics (what else?) ->

That pic is of a stretch of winter road between the villages of Sasyr and Khonuu (here). As you’ll see by that there Google Map, there’s no regular (asphalted) road between the two, but in winter (and into spring) there’s the winter road you see in the pic. From around April to October each year the only thing here is impassable tundra, marshland, lakes and rivers. But by November, everything here is covered in deep snow and thoroughly deep-frozen, and along come large snow-clearing trucks and… voila – the winter road is ready for use; until, that is, the next heavy snowfall – when the snow-clearers come back for another pass.

That’s the basic description of a winter road. An ice road is pretty much the same – only it’s not on land but on the thick ice of a frozen river; for example – on the Indigirka (see next pic). And these are much-preferred by long-distance truckers to winter roads since they’re normally so much smoother: they even call them “asphalt”, since they permit speeds just as on actual roads.

Read on…

My friend, the North. Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk 2024.

Hi folks!

Last week I completed quite possibly my most mind-blowingly awesome trip up to the Far North – from Yakutsk in a northeasterly direction and then further north to Russia’s northern coast. You’ve had a few intro-posts on the expedition already; now for a (slightly) deeper dive…

My regular readers will know well how driving through beautiful countryside practically anywhere in the world – especially with me behind the wheel and especially covering long distances – is one of my favorite pastimes. Back in the early 2000s I went on some Mediterranean drives (for example in Crete and Sicily); I’ve driven in both North and South America; I’ve done a stretch of Great Ocean Road in Australia; and I was on the road for more than a week in Namibia (one of the most unforgettable trips of my life).

Then, in early 2021 a group of curious psychos kindred spirits and I drove along the full length of the Kolyma Highway in Russia’s far-east from Magadan to Yakutsk (and we were enjoying it so much we then decided to drive all the way to… Moscow!). Now, you might expect that we’d have had our fill of long-haul deep-frozen winter road-trips after that, but, actually, you couldn’t be more wrong: we were all so bowled over by what we saw and generally went through on that expedition that we decided to repeat the extreme endeavor just a year later – albeit with a slightly different route and this time not going all the way to Moscow.

And that’s how we came to be under the spell of the North: it simply wouldn’t let us go – and still won’t. For what did we do this year in early spring (don’t be fooled – in these parts early spring is more wintry than most other places on the planet – and some:)? We were back for more – only for a yet more intense version: we headed further and deeper into the deepest Siberia, and to the farthest-north reaches of the Far North (go figure) – deep within the Arctic Circle, no less. Oh yes. The route decided on? Yakutsk > the Laptev Sea port-town of Tiksi > Yakutsk – all ~8000 kilometers of it, including ~4000km along/on its winter roads/frozen rivers!…

So, Tiksi – what gives? Winter roads – what are they (and what happens to them in, say, summer?). All in good time folks…

For now, let’s start with the main question – why?!…

That’s easy: our expedition north promised to be just like our two Kolyma adventures, only better; as in – more extreme, as in – all the more beautifully unique, as in – all the more exclusive, since no one (yes, no one) in their right mind would ever undertake such madness a challenge for fun. Some take this route north as it’s their job: truckers; but they sure aren’t doing it for fun. We were doing it as it’s… like a crazy-expensive vintage whisky: most folks on the planet will never get to taste it, but everyone should – if they could (afford it) as it’s so special. The bonus here is that the expedition neither costs millions (and can’t be finished off in one sitting with friends:) and it lasts a full three weeks: talk about savoring the moment ).

All righty – enough gushing words already; where are the pics? They’re coming right up – carefully selected out of more than two thousand taken. The photos will be either mine or those of my fellow road-trippers (thanks guys)…

Here’s one, chosen literally at random… and fairly screaming masterpiece ->

Arctic beauty:

Read on…

Flickr photostream

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Instagram photostream

Yakutian winter roads, photoshoots on frozen rivers, and 4×4 and other good fun.

Hi folks!

You’ve had your aperitifs, finger-nibbles, and soup (one, two, and April 1); now for… a salad starter!…

How long have we been road-tripping on Yakutian highways and winter roads? Oh – three weeks already! Time to be heading back home I guess…

As usual for my expeditions, I’ve taken a ton of photos and videos during our road trip, and they’re gonna take plenty of sifting and editing, which will take plenty of time. That’s why today you’re having an extra starter in the meantime – a few more pics and impressions from this extraordinary Siberian automotive adventure to tide you over. I hope they’ll be interesting in and of themselves, and also to act as a stimulus for some of you, dear readers, to one day make the trip yourselves…

And so, my preliminary sifting has given me images from our trip like this ->

That’s not a highway; that’s a Yakutian winter road – no asphalt, just ice!

But it wasn’t all super-smooth cruising on ice; we had to resort to roads and sometimes just tracks too, upon which even in sturdy 4x4s our speeds came down to under 20km/h ->

Read on…

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Far-North Road-Trip 2024: onward – northward!

The internet connection here is really unstable – coming and going all day long. Just now it’s available though, so here’s my next mini-tranche of Siberian on-the-road/wilderness pics:

These photos are of a winter road upon a frozen river. As you can see – sunny and cloudless: a beautiful day indeed. The internet’s disappeared again just now, but I’ll show you where this is on the map when it’s back… ->

Read on…

A new scientific discovery (of ours) in Siberia: mega-heavy water (and floating stones)!

Hi folks!

Well, well; I wasn’t expecting this: we’ve made a world-first discovery in Yakutia while on our Far-North Road-Trip – mega-heavy water!

The pioneering discovery was made in the Indigirka river, here. We were crossing said frozen river in our 4x4s, and we decided to take a photo-stop as the surrounding scenes were so spectacularly beautiful. Almost by chance, we looked down at one point, and that’s when we noticed something unusual in the frozen ice. Upon closer inspection – yes, there they were: floating rocks. Floating – as in, they must have been floating when the river water wasn’t frozen, and when it did freeze they were left stranded, suspended in the ice. Don’t believe me? Check out my pics! ->

Can you see the pebbles there? Neither lying on the riverbed (as you’d normally expect), nor floating on the surface (as some highly-porous pebbles might, like pieces of pumice, say). We thought we were seeing things, but no – there they were, truly dangling about mid-water!

Can’t make the pebbles out? Here are a large and tiny one outlined in red ->

Read on…

Far-North Road-Trip 2024: the adventure begins…

Hi folks!

Been a while, I know. But there’s a good reason, as you’ll see…

I’ve finally – after getting on for three weeks! – gotten the opportunity to share with you at least some details about our latest winter remote Siberian road-trip adventure. I wasn’t able to earlier since the distances involved are dizzying long, the weather’s constantly thoroughly deep-frozen, and the autobahns winter roads are… winter roads (no rest areas, not much of anything but ice and snow and endlessness). Then of course there was the internet nuance we came up against: there is Wi-Fi in even the tiniest of villages along the way, but… it’s inaccessible to travelers passing through – there’s no way or place to pay for it! But more on such wtafs trifles coming up later in the upcoming posts on this, our latest Russian-wintery-wilderness road-trip from the extreme side (this post being the first in the series). For now though, as per tradition – some introductory photos with a few accompanying introductory words…

So, first off – our route. Here it is. Wait a while (like a minute+!) for it to open (it’s Iridium).

As for the pics, they’re simply magical – especially the ones taken on and of aufeis; for example ->

The March weather – as to be expected in northeastern Siberia – frigidly frosted ->

…But since when has that ever stopped us?

Check out some of the ride stats:

Read on…

GI-682 – a Catalonian must-do!

In my last post, after our walkabout we said our farewells to Barcelona. Today – I rewind back a bit to a day between our getting overloaded with euro-awards in Innsbruck and my being overloaded with interviews and meetings at Mobile World Congress. For, whenever I can fit it in when here in Catalonia, I just have to get a rental car and cruise along one of my favorite roads – one that hugs its coast ->

En route, we occasionally stopped for walkabouts and the odd bite to eat in towns. Curiously, there was practically nobody about and most stores and cafes were closed. I was surprised the eateries we snacked at weren’t closed too. Ghost towns. And all on the typically (in summer) busy Costa Brava! ->

Read on…

Barcelona’s Park Güell and La Rambla – perfect for the easy-rambler!

As promised, more tales from the Catalonian side…

Work hard – play hard is one of my mottos, and that went for in Barcelona recently too. After working hard at Mobile World Congress, we had two free days on our hands. The first was taken up with getting to, up, and back down Montserrat, as reported a few days ago. In the morning of the second day we checked out the progress of the construction of Sagrada Família – which I told you about In yesterday’s post. Which left us with an afternoon, which we filled with a relaxed ramble around Park Güell (which I hadn’t been to in at least 20 years) and later along the famous pedestrianized tree-lined street called La Rambla (so, not quite “playing hard”, but we weren’t being idle either!). But first – the Gaudi (and Güell)-designed Park Güell

Read on…

I’ve heard of construction-time overruns, but… 150 years for Sagrada Família?!

Sagrada Família is probably the most important touristic (architectural, cultural… basilical) building of Barcelona. Though its construction began in 1882 (no typo folks!) – overseen by no less than Antoni Gaudí himself – it still hasn’t been finished nearly a century-and-a-half later! Indeed, perma-construction is one of the church’s inalienable traits that makes it so unique. It’s like, how can you have a Sagrada Família that’s not under construction – since there’s never, ever, been such a thing?! When the project is finally completed, I’m fairly sure there’ll be something missing from its whole essence )…

Read on…

No mushrooms in the forest yet, but finally spring is here!

Hi folks!

Just recently, while I was busy at Mobile World Congress, I was informed that back here in Moscow the season of spring had finally arrived! Sure, there’s still plenty of snow around – but it’s falling less and less frequently, and less and less heavily. And what there also is now plenty of is… sun – and birdsong! Hurray! I had to see this for myself. And that’s exactly what I did at the first opportunity after flying back from Barcelona ->

It’s been a wonderful winter, with sooo much snow (there are still plenty of piles of it taller than me dotted all over) ->

Read on…