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98 Posts
Discussion Starter #81
December 15, 2009

Cars are – except for a couple of things that need to be done as soon as the team finally arrives on December 26 – pretty much ready to go.

Started my trip home on December 15 via Anadyr, Moscow, Frankfurt. Just like the entire repair trip, it was very adventurous. There have been many hours of waiting, a broken airplane which had to be fixed quickly on the landing strip before dusk, a ride in a self-made swim-vehicle across the barely frozen bay of Anadyr, crowded airports because due to cyclones and blizzards no airplanes from Moscow were able to land for 1.5 weeks, many question marks due to delayed flights and new snowfall, a hara-kiri drive over ice, many changes of flight reservations, lost documents which were supposed to be kept by people at the airport, etc.

But one thing is always on the top rung: people in Russia are always trying to help, make, do. Very relaxed, very cooperative, very hospitable.

Will be in Germany for a couple of days to take care of those things that need to be taken care of. Then we will take off.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.

98 Posts
Discussion Starter #82
December 29, 2009

When angels travel…

… goes a famous saying. By no means we claim to be angels, but everything worked perfectly – just unbelievable.

Wolfgang and Rudi from Munich and myself from Frankfurt to Moscow. Very very cooperative airport staff who helped us with all of our equipment and made exceptions.

Excellent Russian pilots who made sure that the airplane with many waiting passengers and us landed safely in Anadyr, despite very harsh winds. Thank you to Russian customs for supporting us once again exemplary with the necessary paperwork; Victor for finding us some special tickets from Tschukotavia; thanks to whoever opened this incredible weather-frame for us which made it possible to start the flight in the first place and arrive in Egvekinot with a great flight performance (yesterday there have been strong winds which made a landing in Egvekinot impossible) – kudos to the organizers and pilots of Tschukotavia for making the last flight for this year possible despite all circumstances and luggage / cargo-; Alexander and Nicolai who took care of the preparations in Egvekinot and picked us up; thanks to Wolfgang, Rudi, Jefgeny Konstantinov and Victor (the new team) for already some relaxed hours – it has just been a completely successful start and journey to Egvekinot – the city in Russia where even the winter roads end.

Thanks to Russia and Tschukotka for this greeting.

We will take care of the left over work that has to be done on the vehicles until the beginning of January, then celebrate new year’s with our friends, make some last preparations and start reporting again in the new year.

All the best,

Matthias Jeschke

98 Posts
Discussion Starter #83
December 29, 2009-January 03, 2010: We hit the road

At best weather which is supposed to last for another three days, at temperatures around -15°C and almost still air, we left Egvekinot, the city which welcomed us so nicely in all aspects and where we found many friends.

We just had some exhausting days.
At the day of our arrival (Dec. 29, 2009) we brought the vehicles from the “cold storage area” to the garage and continued to work on the vehicles every day almost around the clock – there has only been a break for our new year’s celebration – in order to finish the last remaining repairs and the new twin-tire-system. It has been the first test for the new team – passed with flying colors.

After leaving Egvekinot and crossing the bay on its straight path (thickness of the ice about 50cm), we are now on a headland which we are trying to pass since yesterday. Our goal is to reach the second bay at about N 66 12’024” / W 178 43’578” and cross this one as well- Yesterday we drove a total of 35 km.

We almost lost the F1 as I suddenly noticed a burnt smell. I stopped, thinking that something might be laying on my floor, which gets very hot at one special spot. But that wasn’t the case. Meanwhile Jefgeny left the vehicle on the passenger side to take a picture of the beautiful landscape, when he suddenly starts screaming: Fire, fire, fire! Flames were blazing underneath the car. Quickly we recognized that one of the engine covers was burning. Due to the fact that the cover was tied, we were not able to unfasten it quickly. Hectically Jefgeny and Victor threw snow under the vehicle while I tried to cut off the burning fabric.
Together with Wolfgang and Rudi, after a few minutes we extinguished the fire and removed the fabric. Only because we were very lucky, the overlap of the flames to the engine compartment could be avoided.
There has been almost no damage at the vehicle. We continued our journey after a big gulp of Vodka against the shock, thankful for the benevolence of the “place’s spirit”.

Until late at night we fought our way through the snow-covered tundra, pulled and winched us forwards.

Currently we are at N 66 11’642” / W 178 46’473” – everything is okay. We wait until the morning in order to cross the big bay at daylight. A difficult task.
January 04, 2010: 61st short message (00:26 a.m. CET)

9 a.m. Took off after a cup of coffee and a bread. First difficult obstacle: a riverbed with lots of snow. After about one hour of shoveling successfully crossed. Are 1km away from the bay.

Wind gets stronger. First light snowfall. Met two Chukots from Konergina who are on their way to Egvekinot via Skidoo. Their sled dog sitting on the Skidoo. Nice picture.
January 04, 2010: 62nd short message (01:38 a.m. CET)

12 p.m. Reached bay and managed entrance. F1 with both axles in the water. Pulled F1-trailer difficultly trough water-flooded tracks.

F2 made new tracks without any problems.
Following progress 2x through water-flooded tracks. Are currently 1km on bay-ice. Overall bay width 12km.
January 04, 2010: 63rd short message (03:55 p.m. CET)

1.30p.m. Reached the middle of the bay.

2 p.m. Reached other bank. Exit easier than entrance. Only cracks but no water. Yippie yeah.

2.30 p.m. Raised the tire’s air pressure from 0.3/0.4 to 0.6. Are currently driving – after getting over a small headland – on ice along the shoreline. Air-line distance to Konergina about 60km. Speed about 3-10 km/h. Increasing snowfall; wind about 5 Bft.

Current position: N 66 07’785” / W 178 30’560”
January 04, 2010: 64th short message (12:55 p.m. CET)

10.30 p.m. 6km away from Konergina track bar adapter on the front of F2 broke.
Steering virtually impossible. Made emergency repairs with straps and try to continue driving slowly. Tomorrow we have to weld.

Will spend the night 1.5km from Konergina and drive into the settlement tomorrow morning. A though piece of work until now. But the team is doing fine. Everything okay.

Current position: N 65 55‘363“ / W 178 48‘886“
January 05, 2010:

We woke up on a reindeer farm which served our vehicles as a place to stay for the night. Actually it’s more a place for the last hours of those beautiful animals, because here they are processed into food. At the crack of dawn, hundreds of antlers and others testified this. We detached the trailers and drove into the village. Right away crowds of people were gathering around us, children were running around and we were welcomed heartily. People from Konergina: Very very hospitable. A welder was organized. This was an opportunity for us to fill up the tanks from the barrels that we had with us. We received and ate raw reindeer meat and celebrated the New Year with a few drinks. After fixing the track bar adapter on F2, and welded and strengthened this same spot on F1, we bought an entire reindeer and got three fishes additionally as a gift. Then we resorted to the school house, in which we were invited to stay for the night. Because meanwhile it was evening again. This was also the time to say goodbye to Alexander and Victor, the Vestichot drivers (who supplied Konergina with all necessities during the winter). Especially for us they had postponed their departure from Egvekinot to Konergina in order to drive with us. Those were three great days with new friends who even shared the very tight passenger compartment of their Vestichot to eat with us.

Tomorrow, when the first beams of light appear, we will leave for the difficult track towards Enmelem. This way we will make use of the maximum period of daylight.

We would like to thank principal Alexander Volodko, the Chief of Administration Alexander Mylnikov and the Chief of Agriculturfarm Vladimir Alexeevich.
January 05, 2010: 65th short message (11 p.m. CET)

At 8 a.m. we started with dream weather and -28°C.
Yesterday, after we bought a reindeer, cut it into smaller pieces and ate parts of it with the people in Konergina, now there are two Chukots accompanying us today. So now we have guests in our little convoy. They want to come along to Neran. There is a big reindeer meeting point.

Our current position after good progress: N 65 51‘479“ / W 178 26‘860“
January 06, 2010: 66th short message (04:27 a.m. CET)

It is 3 p.m. and the team gets on well. We did 60km in 7 hours. There is an icy wind with strong flurries at about -28°C and no snowfall. The team is doing great and everything is within the bounds.

The landscape is unbelievable!
Our huge spikes prove themselves again and again. Often we have to cross lakes and wide rivers which are frozen and as smooth as glass, so that you cannot walk on them. It would be great to get out the skates. But thanks to the spikes which are easy to mount, we pull the trailers and rank on the ice without any problems. Brilliant!
January 06, 2010: 67th short message (06:32 a.m. CET)

5 p.m. Wind speed is 8 to 9 with strong flurries.

Our current position is N 65 39‘871“ / W 177 32‘155“
January 06, 2010: 68th short message (00:30 a.m. CET)

6 p.m. Stopped. F1 broke down. Cannot continue our journey without risking further damages. Servo pump (main fan-belt for all units runs over that) is threatened to overheat. Will build windbreak so that we can try a repair at wind speed 8 to 9.

7 p.m. Windbreak is done. Main pressure line of servo pump on swaging is damaged.

11 p.m. Built a 130 bar pressure line from battery brackets, pieces of fuel hose, clamps, wire straps, sawn off pieces of the old line and a big portion of team spirit along with imagination. Engine is running again. Are getting everything back in the vehicles and will leave again in about 30 minutes.
Freaking cold!
January 06, 2010: 69th short message (01:35 p.m. CET)

0.30 a.m. Line didn't last. Team tired, but we try again. Nerve-wracking. Sh*tty material.

98 Posts
Discussion Starter #85
January 06, 2010: 70th short message (10:54 p.m. CET)

10 a.m. Very tough night. Tried emergency repair several times. Were able to start the engine again. Heater is working. Slept for five hours. We take off again.

Current position: N 65 39‘540“ / W 177 23‘128“
January 07, 2010: 71st short message (04:10 a.m. CET)

2 p.m. Arrived at a fishing hut at our current position N 65 35‘309 / W 177 06‘790“, made a fire, drank some warm tea. Pressure line lasted; not completely perfect, but it worked good. Vehicles are checked; will set off again in an hour and make use of the good weather (without any snowfall). Team spirit is great; we are all pulling together.

Will try to get further towards Enmelem (the next village in a distance of about 140km).
January 07, 2010: 72nd short message (02:00 p.m. CET)

8 p.m. Difficult navigation. Partially, visibility less than 15 meters. Coped with three tough sections since leaving the fishing hut: crossed one scarp as well as two rivers with deep steps and strong drifts.
January 07, 2010: 73rd short message (02:12 p.m. CET)

Very strong, icy winds. Continue to move forwards. Were able to cross two long land bridges in the gulf of Anadyr. Partially, 80 cm thick ice plates wildly thrown on shore. Also snow flurries and sometimes hardly any visibility. We are often only driving by looking at the GPS and move forwards meter after meter along scarps. Unbelievable how accurate this area has been mapped. We navigate up to 10-20 meters through complete wilderness, thanks to the Russian surveyors.
January 07, 2010: 74th short message (03:08 p.m. CET)

Are standing at current position N 65 28'942" / W 176 76'613" - In front of us is a steep hillside shelving all the way down to the sea. We have to go down there but will wait for daylight to minimize the risk. Team is doing good, cars are working.
January 08, 2010: 75th short message (01:01 a.m. CET)

12 p.m. Scarp is done. Afterwards we managed a difficult river crossing. F1 broke into Nalid Ice but got through it. Are standing on shoreline ice and drive further towards Enmelem.
January 07, 2010: 76. Short message (06:16 a.m. CET)

Very difficult mission. Had to pass a long slant from the shoreline, which was deeply blown over. For 300 meters we had to shovel, winch, pull and detach the vehicles from the trailers. This took us 3,5 hours. Very very cold with stormy wind (8-9). Jefgeny has a light frostbite on his cheek, but he is okay. There will be no harm left behind.

We are driving again. Difficult kilomerters are ahead of us. Wind is still increasing, snowfall started.

98 Posts
Discussion Starter #86
January 08, 2010: 77th short message (11:52 a.m. CET)

It has been a crazy day. Into the bargain, we also got in a heavy blizzard. At no visibility, we fought our way from the shoreline through a delta near Neran.
Overall accomplishment for the day: 23km in 15 hours. What a number. We are now standing safely on a hill and wait for the end of the snow storm. Team and vehicles okay.

Current position: N 65 28‘378“ / W 175 58‘037“
January 08, 2010: 78th short message (10:26 p.m. CET)

9 a.m. Blizzard is over. 1,5 m snow drifts all around the cars. It’s amazing to see where we maneuvered last night without any visibility. The gods of nature to whom we sacrificed cigarettes and vodka in a traditional ceremony with our tschukot friends last night, were with us and protected us.

Last night also a nice act of friendship. Wow, a Tschukot, gave me his knife as a present. This is a very grand gesture. It’s a self-made knife made from the horn of reindeers. The blade is a self-forged saw blade; the shaft is made of reindeer leather and fur. In return, I gave him my knife as a thank you and felt honored.
January 09, 2010: 79th short message (05:21 a.m. CET)

10 a.m. Our two tschukot friends have turned and drive back to Konergina. We just left the delta. We are trying to find our way to a Vestichot track towards Enmelem over a high plateau. Three lakes in front of us which have to be crossed. The ice of the first one is too thin. When I walked over it to test the ice, it already cracked. We have to find a way around the lake.

2 p.m. Pressure line broke again.

4 p.m. Fixed pressure line as good as possible. Will take off again in 30 min. In the meantime, Jefgeny scouted the way around the first lake.
January 09, 2010: 80th short message (11:33 a.m. CET)

10:30 p.m. Found our way around the lake. Afterwards, difficult crossing of a river. Had to test the ice for a long time in order to find a good way to go. Both cars are tied together to secure them. Everything worked out well. We are about 40km away from Enmelem. Now we are diving across fields of heavy bumps. Due to the fact that we sway back and forth on the sea, we can only drive very slowly, which costs us a lot of nerves.

Current position: N 65 18‘139“ / W 175 48‘489“
Everything okay.
January 09, 2010: 81st short message (01:03 p.m. CET)

11:45 p.m. We are standing in front of a very broad delta with three main arms. Tried to cross. F1 broke into the ice. We were able to get back by our own power. Decided to stop for today and spend the night at N 65 16‘891“ / W 175 48‘000“. We will try again tomorrow morning.

Everything alright.

January 10, 2010: 82nd short message (01:05 a.m. CET)

12 p.m. Had a bad night. Nasty storm that made us fear that one of the trailers or a car would be blown over. That’s how strong the winds were. Decided to change places again and chose a safer one outside of the delta.
Then, this morning, there was beautiful weather with lots of sun. Regarding the weather, this is one of the most beautiful days of our journey. Then we found our way across the broad delta. Ice wasn’t frozen completely everywhere, but it lasted underneath the vehicles. Very good feeling. Right now we are still heading towards Enmelem. About 30km left.
January 10, 2010: 83rd short message (03:06 a.m. CET)

2 p.m. We just finished our first refueling without having to be completely covered from head to toe, without headlights, without thick mittens and without frozen fingers. We have beautiful weather.
It would even be possible to climb on the trailers without having to secure ourselves. Usually that’s not possible because there’s always the danger of falling because of the strong winds.
January 10, 2010: 84th short message (05:08 a.m. CET)

4 p.m. We just crossed the last broad delta before Enmelem!!!!!! We were expected. A delegate from Enmelem expected us at the side of the river that is oriented towards Enmelem. It was a hearty welcome. He said that everybody is happy to see us. We are the first ones who managed the crossing of the river – which we failed to do last night but managed this morning – this year!! Very awesome. A shot of vodka was obligatory.
Just one more pass and 10km, then we reach Enmelem. The team is very proud. So am I. A great team. Excellent team spirit and mutual respect and support. Great!
January 10, 2010: 85th short message (05:37 a.m. CET)

We wouldn’t stand a chance without spikes. They helped us a lot so far – amazing. Besides rivers and lakes, which can hardly be crossed by foot, the spikes once again proved their worth today. After the crossing of the last delta and before the pass, we just had to drive on an inclined and ice-covered track which has been carved into the hillside. Without spikes, no chance! This is how one jigsaw piece joins the others.

5 p.m. We arrived in Enmelem!!!
January 12, 2010:

In the morning of the 11th, after being able to sleep outstretched in the school, we were surprised by about 60 children who wanted to see us. They even quickly organized a special concert and a dance show for us. Great. The principal, the teachers, the children, the administration, the border guard, the mechanics, the helpers, etc. Just a great village.
Once again I have to emphasize that, in my mind and regarding my experiences, there is no other country in the world which I have been to, where there exist as many thoughts of friendship, helpfulness and hospitality as in Russia. I will not get tired of praising and give others an understanding of this.

The rest of the day, the entire night until 4 a.m. and today, the 12th, we dedicated ourselves exclusively to the repair of the vehicles. Finally F1 works again with a special constructed “Ural” (a Russian truck) servo line. The construction is about 4x bigger than the original and we need a higher engine revolution to steer, but this was the only chance we had, after this thing blew up several times for various reasons. Everything that we tried without welding equipment failed or just lasted for a short period of time. Now, after Alexey, the super welder, welded the Jeep for hours to the size of an Ural with painstaking attention to detail, hopefully it works. A feat, considering the 1 mm thick walls of the Jeep lines.

Tonight we will rest and start again tomorrow morning towards Providenia. Difficult river stages are awaiting us.


98 Posts
Discussion Starter #87
January 12, 2010: 86th short message (10:16 p.m. CET)

9 a.m. We took off. We are accompanied by two Skidoo drivers from Providenia, our friends Vladimir and Konstantin and a driver from Enmelem, who joined us (together with two others who sit on his sleigh – I believe they do this in order to minimize the risk of driving alone to Nulingran – our next goal). There is also our welder on his Russian motor vehicle (he wants to make sure that his welding lasts and also wants to see how far he gets).

Some information on the side: For the last decade, we were the first who reached Enmelem with wheeled vehicles, coming from Konergina.
January 13, 2010: 87th short message (02:11 a.m. CET)

1 p.m. We are fighting our way through a delta. We already managed 30 km. Again and again we have to winch, detach the trailer from the vehicles, cross small/medium/big river arms. Sometimes we break into the ice, but only for about 30 cm.

5 p.m. Managed difficult snow pass. Right now we are at the next river. Another 20 km to Nuligran.

6:45 p.m. Arrived in Nuligran. Team is in good shape.

Current Position: N 64 48‘259“ / W 175 22‘537“
January 13, 2010: 88th short message (09:51 p.m. CET)

8:30 a.m. We took off. There are 220 km of nothing ahead of us on our way to Providenia – including one of the most difficult tracks through the mountains with difficult passes, etc. Let’s hope that we can do it. A couple of days ago, a Vestichot sunk in the lake which we should reach by tomorrow. Now the ice is supposed to be strong enough. There is no other path anyway, so we have to try it.
January 14, 2010: 89th short message (03:16 a.m. CET)

1 p.m. We reached a fisher camp at N 64 48‘254“ / W 174 53‘804“ We made a fire for an hour, warmed up, drank some tea and coffee. Just started again at 2 p.m. Very difficult track – called Bermuda – ahead of us. First, we have o drive 13 km over a sea, then a difficult delta and then mountains. We are trying to arrive at a camp which is 70 kilometers away.

By the way: A wonder-, wonderful landscape with unbelievable ice-formations here – amazing!
January 14, 2010: 90th short message (05:20 a.m. CET)

4:30 p.m. Current position is N 64 46’783” / W 174 30’395”. Steering bars on F2 broke. No steering possible. The entire block that has been welded in Konergina, fell off. We are trying to fix it with belts. Team is alright.
January 14, 2010: 91st short message (07:59 a.m. CET)

6:30 p.m. Finished repair attempts. Three belts should keep together on F2 – which is manned by Wolfgang and Rudi, and thus completely northern Bavarian – what usually welds do. F1 is manned by Jefgeny, Viktor, Matthias at the moment. Great team work at -30°C and wind. Let’s see how far we can go with this. The next welding equipment is 140 km away. But, at least nature is nice to us. Right now, there is no snowfall. A couple of clouds, which gave the impression of an upcoming blizzard, have disappeared as well. Best weather – Thank God!
January 14, 2010:

8 p.m. Right now we are in the Bermuda area. Pre mysticism / stories that are written by the expedition.

Lead text:
Durng the crossing of the lake, there has been a crackling intense tension. Everybody was nervous and wanted to know if the ice was going to last – and especially since we had to drive in the middle of the lake, instead of on the side, due to too thin ice. The ice on the sides was not thick enough because of currents by feeder rivers. Furthermore, the ice wasn’t 1 meter thick as we all hoped, but only 30-40 cm and littered with big cracks. Suddenly there was no more steering support on F1. We thought that a line broke again. But it was the v-belt that was torn to pieces. I have no idea why. As quickly as possible we tried to assemble a new v-belt and belt pulley. This – on ice and in icy wind – was not easy and a big challenge. You need five people for this: one holds on to the hood so that it won’t fall down, one hold on to the insulating mat for the engine and the flashlight, one has the tools and spare parts, two remove the remains, hold the clamp and apply the belt.

Leap in time:
It is around 7 p.m. when we drive into the dreaded “Bermuda” area.
It is called like that due to difficult navigation and unexplainable events that have happened here in the past.

We continue slowly towards a narrow pass. We navigate only by computer and GPS; carefully we move along the hillsides - which we can’t see anyway because of the darkness - via coordinates and lines on a map that describe us the nature. Even our strong headlights allow us no more than an impression of the landscape few meters ahead of us. Driving around and finding our way by ligh is not possible because of the weather and trailers. The rising valley continues to get narrower until it is only 50-60 m wide. Then there is a wall of snow in front of us. To our left and to our right steep rock faces. There is only one chance: Going left and trying to use a hillside to get around the wall of snow. Regarding that F2 is handicapped because of its steering, we drive ahead in F1. The hillside gets steeper. The rock faces seem threatening. Wind shakes the vehicle. Then a whistling, a scraping from the engine compartment. Immediately I shut off the engine. We are in the midst of the inclination. We leave the car, open the hood: the v-belt is no longer on the belt pulley. It is damaged. Viktor starts to scream at the bad spirits in Russian, argues with them. He starts a shaman’s dance to fight them and get them away from the cars. At the same time, Jefgeny and I are trying to apply the v-belt. Actually eight hands would be needed for that, but F2 is far behind us.
Viktor shouts, screams, fights with gestures and noise against the invisible of the night.

The engine is working again – we go back in the vehicle and continue our journey. We make it, manage to get out of this undefined, threatening situation and to the top of the hill. F2 is following. Then, a couple hundred meters later: a scarp that has deep snow areas at its bottom. With lots of awareness and maneuvering, we get up to ten meters to the upper edge. At the steepest position, the v-belt falls off once again. Viktor is screaming again, fights. Jefgeny is sitting in the car and uses the brake. The hillside is so steep that there is no other possibility to secure F1. I curse, quarrel and apply the v-belt – which is now only 1 cm wide – again with lots of anger in my stomach. I am thinking: “It’s enough now” while maneuvering F1 against wind, spirits, snow and steepness onto the plateau. Done. F2 follows without problems.

10 p.m. Just finished difficult pass and are at position N 64 44‘469“ / W 274 23‘357“.
Team is doing well.

We are in the middle of “Bermuda” and fight.
January 15, 2010: 92nd short message (00:00 a.m. CET)

8 a.m. Are driving again.

9 a.m. Reached broad delta. There is a huge deep snow area in front of us with the dimensions of at probably 1 by 2 kilometers. We will try to drive around it. When we left the fisher camp at around 2 p.m yesterday, our two Skidoo drivers stayed behind. They wanted to try and catch up to us today during daylight.
Currently the three belts on F2 maintain the steering and the v-belt on F1 lasts. In case that there is anybody who wonders why we don’t change the v-belt: Altogether we have six spare belts. One is already in use; we want/have to make maximum use of all material.

10 a.m. We drove successfully around the snow area and also crossed a river. Are staying on course.
January 15, 2010: 93rd short message (03:35 a.m. CET)

1:30 p.m. We arrived at a fisher base 70 km away from Providenia. Current position is N 64 39’047” / W 174 02’183”.

Are driving at most with 2000 rotations per minute in all gear reductions, to ensure that the 1 cm v-belt will remain functioning as long as possible. We want to do the real repair no earlier than Providenia – if possible. There will be another 2-3 days of good weather – we have to make it.


98 Posts
Discussion Starter #88
January 16, 2010: 94th short message (00:15 a.m. CET)

Are currently at N 64 35‘866“ / W 173 37‘777“.

The team is alright but very tired. We are fighting to move forward step after step. Technical problems hinder our progressing significantly. At the moment we are 32 km away from Providenia.
We have to get over a difficult pass.
Without Spikes, no chance to get to get this far.
Without Webasto it would be even harder, because F1 currently doesn’t have any other heater.
Withour the sleeping bags from Mammut it wouldn’t be bearable.
Without the team’s mental strength, no chance.

We will report again.

January 16, 2010: 95th short message (08:37 a.m. CET)


We are located somewhere between steep hills on a river. Meters of snow. No end of technical challenges. No time to relax. Hardly any sleep. It cannot get any harder. 600 meters in 24 hours: In the cold, we spent 5 hours rasping and remodeling the servo pump bearing of F1.
Mental strength of the team is at its highest level. Right now – after six hours of recovering the two trailers and a vehicle – we are trying to drive onto the ridge. There is no possibility to accomplish the canyon, which is covered in 4-5 meters of snow, before the pass. We tried everything today. Ridge is virtually our way around it. But it is very difficult to get to the top – very steep. We try our best. In my mind it cannot get any harder.

I will report let you know about what happened to the team since leaving the fisher camp, about what we had to go through and about any details, some other time. Right now there is no possibility to write more due to the circumstances that affect us/me.


81 Posts
Amazing journey... I cant wait for the next report!

98 Posts
Discussion Starter #92
January 17, 2010: 96th short message (05:32 a.m. CET)

Last night it took us eight hours to winch the two cars and trailers up the hill. This morning I took two small-shot cartridges and constructed a new bearing for the servo pump, because it broke again. Yesterday six people from Providenia – were the people are waiting for our arrival – came to visit us and to see how we are doing. We were sincerely greeted by the leader of the administration, the leader of border control of the Russian troops, representatives of MCS and others.
Unbelievable, really. I will write more in the main report. Team spirit great. Team is feeling good.

January 17, 2010: 97th short message (09:42 p.m. CET)

Today, we accomplished 2.1 km. It was very tough work. We had to look for paths and get through snow fields for what seemed like forever. But driving around worked out. F1 is still running without any problems. The team is okay.

January 18, 2010: 98th short message (08:06 a.m. CET)

Today, we accomplished 1.6 km. The pass is now 1.9 km away. Endless powder snow. We winch and shovel – toughest strains for each and everyone. Cold, endeavor, shortness of sleep, but everyone does their utmost. Just great this team. No controversy, nothing. I am very enthusiastic about each and everyone. Just like settlers at that time – bit by bit in an unknown country.
January 18, 2010: 99th short message (12:49 p.m. CET)

Are literally walking on our last legs. This godawful pass.
It’s enough. Gosh. A little while ago, I was so angry. Oh well, after that, the snow had a realization. It froze a little more and we could move 800 m in two hours. Now we are standing on a hillside – on a little plateau – about 1.2 km away from the pass, with both vehicles and trailers. Tonight we will try to make a track with F1 and use sticks, that I placed today during the daylight, as orientation (if we can find them at night :)). The snow here makes you go crazy. The surface is hard as concrete, but underneath is nothing but powder. If the surface breaks, the wheel breaks in and then there is no more traction. This form of snow is very different from the snow e.g. in Jakutsk. There, we didn’t reach the passes easily, but we did get to cross them. Here, everybody has their hands full of weals from shoveling and everybody has enough from the “pass”.
January 19, 2010: 100th short message (00:16 a.m. CET)

Have to get out of here. Yesterday we received a bad weather report – on January 21/22, there is expected to be a storm with snow, snow drifts and wind speed 9-10 as well as hurricane blasts. We only have two days left. We have to make it. We worked the whole night, shoveled like crazy and winched. We accomplished another 200 meters along the steep hillside – we mastered an absolute challenge. Another 1.7 km to the pass.

January 19, 2010: 101st short message (05:04 a.m. CET)

800 m before the pass, after what seemed like endless days, nights and efforts: problems with the axles on F1 and F2. Right now we are organizing support and a rescue vehicle. Team is great. Have to retain our composure. We gave everything, really everything until now. Retain composure / retain composure – it is very difficult.

3,730 Posts
REALLY enjoying this read!

Official Monkey Business
12,215 Posts
Very cool. Who was the still photographer who is on this trip? Some fantastic shots.

98 Posts
Discussion Starter #98
January 20, 2010: 102nd short message (11:05 am CET)

Spent the night and today well. The weather is still stable. Today or tomorrow, we will winch and pull ourselves over the pass with our Russian helpers and then try to drive over the ice of the Providenia Bay to Providenia. If the ice shouldn’t bear our weight, we would have to driver over a second pass to get around the bay. In Providenia we will be able to properly diagnose the damages and make repairs. F2 could be repaired at short notice. F1 will be more difficult, it might take a couple days longer. We will try to get back on the road as fast as possible. Right now we expect to remain in Providenia for about two weeks.
If anybody wants to come and join the team is welcomed. Juergen Graf, Astrid Wallner and Jan Liska can give further information.
January 20, 2010: 103rd short message (03:22 p.m. CET)

3 a.m. After a difficult final stage, we arrived in Providenia.
The brake pipe on F2 fell off, there has been a tire failure on F2, the trailer of F1 has a deformed axle, we broke into Nalid Ice. All team members are exhausted but doing well – apart from dark shadows under the eyes, beards, black hands, body odor, wet shoes, cracked fingers, chipped fingernails and so on.

We will get in touch again.
January 21, 2010: 104th short message (03:34 a.m. CET)

We are still on the street in Providenia. We are talking, negotiating, looking for a parking space for the trailers and a place to repair the vehicles. Many people have come outside. They welcomed us, considered how they could help us, signed the cars, gave us coffee, tea and a place in the office of a small garage. After a long time, we ate some fresh bread instead of frozen cross. A part of the team slept in a Russian tracked vehicle – finally sprawled out again as I heard – for a couple of hours.
I believe we will find solutions within the next hours, eventually days. Just now we have been offered a Russian sauna to heat up and clean up again.
We’ll see. Definitely very friendly here. A couple minutes ago I received the news that we at least found two places for the trailers.
January 21, 2010: 105th short message (09:43 a.m. CET)

Trailers are safely stored inside / in front of a hall. On the part of the very friendly mayors, we found an accommodation that we can use for the entire duration of our stay. It is empty but warm, has a bathroom with shower and carpeted floors. They just brought us a small table. We sleep on the floor in or on our sleeping bags and are very happy about this place to live. The vehicles are still on the street. Tomorrow they will decide where we go for our repairs.
“Warm boxes” in which there are at least 0°C, are seldom. And if they exist, they are most of the time already taken. We will see. First of all we will make some food and enjoy a Russian beer. We deserve it.

Providenia is located right next to a bay. In front and behind the city mountains rise as if they were painted. If you stay at the bay, look towards the sea and the sun goes down blood-red like today, a painter couldn’t capture it any more beautiful. And temperatures around -10°C make you forget how hard life must be for the people living here. Forces of nature can be pretty tough. The hurricane that is expected to come, will show prove this to us quite plainly.
January 22, 2010: 106th short message (11:50 a.m. CET)

This morning we were shown once again how welcomed we are here, how hospitable the people in Tschuotka are. We received a call from the mayor, that a “warm box” has been found on the part of the first minister. We were asked to come to the technical school, where we received more information. Right away we left for the school. There, we were welcomed by the principal. He explained to us that they were willing to help and that they wanted to rearrange a box for us, so that our cars could stay there as long as we needed for our repairs. The box also has an undercut and a hoisting crane! In our situation this felt like Christmas. Grateful, we brought the vehicles from their place on the street of the outskirts to the box in the city. Afterwards a meeting with the highest ranking representatives of the regional government and city administration took place. In the main building we had some interesting conversations as well as coffee and tea. We discussed the further proceedings. During our conversation we were offered again all necessary support. In return we offered to be available for lectures, discussions, conversations, cultural exchange for the kindergarden, the school, the technical school and anyone who is interested for as long as we are here. Honestly, where can you find that in our culture? Go to the outskirts of any city in the world and ask for accommodation for your team, a parking space for big trailers and a work place to repair two vehicles. This is a geniality and friendship of the Russian population.

I think that Tschukotka offers a great variety of regional distinctions and could make a difference in the area of tourism. There are bizarre images of nature, silence, and amazing beauty of the tundra that every traveler can see. Seldom have I seen a clearer sky, more stars, wilder valleys, have I experiences the calmness better than here. I wish that more people would make the move and get to know this wonderful area of the world. I can only recommend this to everybody – he/she will be thrilled!

While I am writing these lines, the storm starts to exert its forces. The wind becomes stronger, snow started falling and flurries are blowing through the streets.
January 29, 2010: 107th short message (01:12 a.m. CET)

We’ve got our hands full and try desperately to find a solution for the transport of the damaged axle parts. Please excuse that I didn’t write that much.
Whoever wants to help us and has according contacts or wants to write, could talk to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission.

Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission
PO Box 570
Barrow, AK 99723-0570
Phone 907-852-2392
Fax 907-852-2303

On behalf of this commission, there will be a flight from Nome, Alaska to Providenia, Russia on February 08, 2010. If our parts cannot be on this flight, they will arrive no earlier than the end of February and our chance to reach the Bering Strait in time will diminish.
Unfortunately the commission categorically refuses to take our two travel bags with the spare parts along on the almost empty flight. We don’t know the reasons. All other involved parties are willing to make it possible. But the final decision has the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission.
February 30, 2010: 108th short message (03:09 a.m. CET)

By now, a lot of different parties are asking the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission to take our two travel bags along on their empty (!!!!) flight from Nome to Providenia – of course we will pay for it. They categorically refuse. We don’t know why. We never did anything bad against the people or the commission. Nobody understands this stance. They suggested to us that we pay the entire flight and then we can send our two bags along.
This would have never happened in Russia, never, never. If anybody needs help, you help them. And we are by no means cadgers who ask for help for free. We only ask for an approval to put our two bags against payment on this empty flight. Unbelievable, really unbelievable.
February 01, 2010: 109th short message (11:23 a.m. CET)

Great, our friend Dimitri sent his acquaintance “Oleg” to our apartment today. He’s a man with best connections in satellite lines. :)
Via TV he made us an internet connection at its best and now we can – finally with a prospect of success – try to send a couple of pictures. We are trying to do so for a couple of days now but the satellite system in F1 doesn’t work as long as it is in the shielded hall. On our agenda for today was also the official visit in the kindergarden and a heartily welcome.
Meanwhile works Jefgeny with our friend Valerie, the welder, on the reconstruction of the steering parts. They also weld a big part of the special constructions on F2.
Due to the better internet connection we got a bunch of photos from the expedition team - check all of (200+) out at:

Part 1: http://bit.ly/bpGskP
Part 2: http://bit.ly/9DlAkK

Some of them for you to enjoy:


98 Posts
Discussion Starter #99
New photos of the expedition are online: http://bit.ly/aw90cD

February 04, 2010: 110th short message (02:26 p.m. CET)

The past two days cost me a lot of nerves (are there any left in the first place?). A tough pass with snow is easy compared to the last days. Oh well. At the moment we don’t make any progress with the flight, also regress with one of our suppliers in a way that my head explodes. I have to get angry about so many things that I think hellhounds are marching.

The good news: the team is great and sticks together even though the days of waiting aren’t easy. There’s discipline, we brace ourselves, we won’t let things slide. Every day we repair another piece. Rudi was already jokingly talking about training in auto mechanics as his continuation education. I believe he will open a garage when he’s back. Today we started with the first trailer. Right after the pass, when we broke into really deep Nalid Ice with F2 and its trailer, the trailer’s front axle broke. Therefore we decided to modify the trailers so that they are operated by one axle only. We also shorten them to their minimum and try to reduce the weight as much as possible. For stabilization we mount a pivoting ski onto the drawbar. At least that’s the plan – let’s see how it will turn out.


98 Posts
Discussion Starter #100
New photos are online at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=144222&id=41595873841

February 07, 2010: 111th short message (02:27 a.m. CET)

Today, a story about Victor which he allowed me to tell. As a former helicopter pilot, Victor knows many people in Tschukotka and just as many know him. He often gets recognized; even when his last flight to that place was ten or more years ago. People who live in the small villages don’t need time. They have plenty of it. Victor once asked a tschukot man who hailed him: “Do you even know when we saw each other the last time?” The man answered: “Well, a couple of winters ago.” But it has been 14 years.

There’s also a nice story about Victors tooth. He either didn’t have enough time or enough money, so he made a tooth from fossilized mammoth bone. Of course this has to be renewed as well, therefore he occasionally rasps at mammoth pieces that he always carries with him. Surely he is the only man who has a 10.000 or more year old tooth. By now it is also a lucky charm, he says. We definitely laughed a lot about his jokes concerning this issue. Victor is a very funny man in general. Sometimes he looks like Sean Connery, sometimes like a very strict officer and sometimes like a clown. A strong, versatile mimic, combined with his charming humor, his guitar playing and his singing, he made us laugh many times. Due to his speaking ability, I think he should become a radio reporter or due to his certainly strong acting talents, become a TV actor. Maybe a producer will read this.

February 07, 2010: 112th short message (02:40 am CET)

On Friday we were invited to visit Providenia’s court. We learned a little bit about the Russian law and saw what a court room looks like. Afterwards we had a very interesting conversation with the judges which proved the trust in us once again. Yesterday we had our last – appointed with the administration – official visit of a school. It was the school of sports. It is located in the ski base. More than 50 children have been there; it was lots of fun. As always, we brought chocolates (altogether we gave out hundreds of chocolates to the children of Tschukotka. The little store where we always buy them, e.g. in Providenia, has high season for chocolates.) and did our little questions/ answers game.

By the way, here in Providenia is Russia’s easternmost ski slope and the second westernmost slope of the world. How can that be?
The easternmost part of Russia is in the westernmost part of the world and the westernmost part of the world is in the easternmost part of Russia.

Explanation: The 180th longitude is right between Belibino and Egvekinot. About 40 km before Egvekinot. Therefore, every part of Russia that’s north from there, is in the West of the world. That means that the westernmost part of the world is in easternmost Russia. Hence, Egvekinot is one of the westernmost settlements, has the westernmost ski slope of the world (Providenia has the second westernmost ski slope), Providenia only has the easternmost ski slope of Russia (after Providenia there is nothing else).

Today we have been invited to try the slope by ourselves. It’s an adventure and at the same time it is remarkable how joy is given to someone. Of course everything is a little bit more basic but ingenious in its function. It was like a holiday for the team. The following dinner with Ludmilla and her daughter topped two good days off.
February 08, 2010: 113th short message (12:41 p.m. CET)

Concerning the delivery of the spare parts I have decided that I will not ask the people from AEWC for help any longer. We found another possibility to bring the parts to Providenia. I hope that they will arrive on Thursday, even though we are expecting bad weather with a storm and lots of snow. Let’s see how this will turn out. Anyway, everything is ready in Nome.

We now know something very interesting:
We were told that we are the first expedition ever that came to Providenia from Europe with wheeled vehicles. And Rudi and I are the first Germans that went skiing here on Russia’s easternmost ski slope. Not bad

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