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Discussion Starter #102
February 14, 2010:

Thursday has been a great day. So far we kept ourselves afloat with lots of discipline and “hang-in-slogans”, but on Thursday afternoon we finally received good news.

First we received an official invitation for a conversation by the leader of the regional government “Providenia Region”. During the meeting which lasted almost one hour, we received a special book about Chukotka as a thank you for our school visits and speeches. The entire team felt much honored about this special gesture. In return we thanked everybody for their trust. For us, all the visits have been a great pleasure. Afterwards, when I received good news from the capital Moscow, and Rudi exclaimed a crow because he found strawberry ice in a store, the sun arose again on the night sky. When I also found tea-cakes – my absolute favorites – (the first ones since mid-December), it was as if fireworks started. Alright, alright, I know I am exaggerating. But if you try to put yourself in our position, you understand how great this was for us.

Then it was Friday – it was a wonderful morning at around 8 a.m., sunlight was shining through scattered clouds that were floating across the sky, there was a light wind, it is cold, the mountains were glowing in the light of the rising sun, the bay was calm and frozen, it was a feeling of peace, everything is blue/light blue/white. It was the best weather for pictures AND for an airplane to start. Yes, finally our spare parts can arrive today!!!
I walk fleet-footedly and elated to my Blackberry, awaited the flight information, open the e-mail from Bering Air and: Arrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!
They cannot come because the landing strip in Providenia cannot be cleared from the last two days’ of snow of the blizzard. They say that the next possibility will be Monday IF not another snow storm comes first. Phuuuh. Breathe, breathe.
So we spent the Friday with dinner preparations, cooked for our guests, continued the work on our cars. In the evening we had a very successful dinner with our guests and had “one for the road” in the only bar of the village. Saturday we worked and worked and worked (on the cars of course). Then we went to the Banja with our friends as every Saturday. Sunday we worked and worked and worked. Then I received a call. The mayor of the city invites us to visit the newly-opened public sauna. We are very happy, also because he picks us up personally and because he prepared everything for our arrival. It is a successful visit. Where else but here takes anybody as much care for their guests as here? We were welcomed by about 30 men in the Banja. During this visit, Rudi receives his “slap baptism”* and wiping each other off in the snow afterwards is also bearable.

*They call it a Russian massage: After three, four minutes in the “oven” and about ten douses, you lay down on the upper level of the Banja. Twigs are bound into a bunch. Then you sweep, waggle, press and hit them over your whole body. Some do it themselves, some let themselves be “hit” by others. Most of the time it is done with the side where the leaves are; sometimes with the sticks. It’s nice once you got used to it; but it hurts if you are struggling on the inside. It is hot, almost so that you pass out, when you gasp for breath; it is bearable if you try breathing normally. It renews if you like to do some good to your body in the cold; it is tiring if you don’t. Therefore “very good”.

Because nobody is really any closer to the future as we are (we are kind of in the future), we can tell the Americans what is expecting them tomorrow, the world behind us expects the day that we already lived and are looking into the promising soon, I hope, that the Americans will fly tomorrow, on Sunday, so that we will have received our parts today on Monday.
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February 14, 2010: 115th short message (10:11 p.m. CET)

Bering Air just let us know that they will not come. They have to do other flights first. Great. Our flight has been delayed since last Wednesday. I intervened. Let’s see if the Bering Air management comes around.
.........
February 15, 2010: 116th short message (11:44 a.m. CET)

Definitely no flights today. Bering Air declined – and again we hope that it will work tomorrow. I think this is generally the main problem for this special part of the world. Any kind of transport either depends on weather, extremely complex, is life-threatening or spectacular. Right now our plan is to start driving on Friday, latest Saturday. Continued our repairs and preparations today.
 

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Discussion Starter #104
February 16, 2010: 117th short message (00:13 a.m. CET)

It’s hard to believe. Just now we received the news that the airplane with our spare parts left Nome and that it will be here in about an hour. Victor is on its way to the airport. He will take care of everything. Jefgeny will help him. Rudi and I continue our work here.
............
February 16, 2010: 118th short message (05:20 a.m. CET)

The airplane landed!!! Phuuuuu.

Right now everything gets checked, then it has to be sent through customs and then they will bring it here.
I’m curious to see if we can fix the cars with these parts.
 

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This is a great thread! Good luck guys.
 

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Discussion Starter #107
..........
February 18, 2010: 119th short message (12:53 p.m. CET)

We are working on the vehicles at full blast. Could it be any different? Right now our plan is to leave again on Saturday or Sunday. First we want to reach Novoe Chaplino and then – after a short stop – go about the longest ice test on sea ice (about 60 km along the coast) aiming towards Janrakinnot.

For this purpose we will pull the trailers, which are now modified to be single axle operating, on 25-meter-ropes behind the vehicles to avoid too much pressure on the ice and thus a break in.

Wild stories are being told about this overall 80km long section (sunken vehicles, Nalid Ice wherever you look, etc.).
Special perils of this section are the water fields. They form on special areas on top of the ice and are covered by snow. The wind and temperature conditions cause the surface of the snow to freeze (whilst keeping its snowy appearance). The snow and water underneath do not freeze though. A very malicious, visually plain surface forms which breaks when you drive over it. We hope not to get caught in such a trap.
 

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Discussion Starter #108
February 22, 2010:

The repairs take a lot longer than what we had originally planned. Again and again the tools are a perfidy. Instead of using special tools, we have to find new ideas over and over again to replace the missing special tools. But these ideas need to be thought trough first and implemented. Improvising takes a lot of time. But generally we progress. There are only few more tasks left, amongst others the rear axle of F1.
Hopefully we will be able to make a test drive tomorrow. Then we would leave early Wednesday morning.

Here a rough list of the tasks that we have done/are doing for whoever might be interested in what we had to repair, produce, newly invent and modify:


F1 with trailer1:

- Main plug electric bar fixed and sealed
- Axle-box clearance adjusted in the front (left and right) and in the back (left and right) and free-wheeling hub fixed in the front
(left) with the lid of a can
- Mounted lever shears onto the vehicles
- Stabi bearing fastened in the front (left and right)
- Steering gear mounting and track bar counter bearing constructed and welded in/frame retainer aligned and welded
- Welded broken frame in the front (left and right)
- Retightened and affixed all screws
- Remodeled twin-tire system and changed over to rim operation
- Welded exhaust bracket
- Affixed exhaust pipe left and right
- Servo pump and servo pipes affixed
- V-belt, hose clamp and pulley renewed
- Power supply and antenna cable for emergency radio units fixed
- Track bar bearing renewed
- Oil pan enforced because axles banged against it
- Welded reinforcement to back upper steering link (left and right) and built new rubber bearings from isolators
- Repaired back axle/renewed differential
- Aligned 2 twin-tire cages
- Renewed 3 Beadlocks
- Renewed 2 tire-valves
- Adjusted size of swimming tires
- Front upper axle bearing abraded and reduced
- Batteries charged

- Completely unloaded and loaded trailer, remodeled to one-axle operation, dislocated pontoons and brackets, welded frame,
reconstructed and exchanged tongue


F2 with trailer2:

- Aligned track bar bearing and radius rod bearing and spring stop bearing in the back (right)
- Demolished brake pipe in the front renewed (right)
- Half of right front axle renewed
- Axle-box clearance adjusted in the front (left and right) and in the back (left and right)
- Mounted lever shears onto the vehicles
- Stabi bearing fastened in the front (left and right)
- Steering gear mounting and track bar counter bearing constructed and welded in/frame retainer aligned and welded
- Front lower spring seats aligned and welded
- Welded broken frame in the front (left and right)
- Retightened and affixed all screws
- Remodeled twin-tire system and changed over to rim operation
- Affixed exhaust pipe left and right
- Servo pump and servo pipes affixed
- V-belt, hose clamp and pulley renewed
- Track bar bearing renewed
- Oil pan enforced because axles banged against it
- Welded reinforcement to back upper steering link (left and right) and built new rubber bearings from isolators
- Aligned 1 twin-tire cage
- Renewed 1 Beadlock
- Renewed 3 tire-valves
- Adjusted size of swimming tires
- Front upper axle bearing abraded and reduced
- Batteries charged

- Completely unloaded and loaded trailer, remodeled to one-axle operation, dislocated pontoons and brackets, welded frame,
reconstructed and exchanged tongue

In between we propped the cars several times up above the pit with air-hook-rope-bridge-hanging-techniques and reckless constructions after we sewed about 30 pieces of wood from a thick bar with a hand saw.

..........
February 22, 2010: 120th short message (11:39 a.m. CET)

Both test drives were successful!!!
Test with trailers were successful as well!!!

Now we start loading the vehicles.

This will be a long night again. Tomorrow we will fill up the tanks, clean up the apartment, go grocery shopping, load the last few things, have final meetings with people from public live and helpers, then sleep.
If the weather remains okay, we will start again early Wednesday morning.
Unfortunately a large crack has already formed at the entrance to the 60 km long bay. The crack is filled with water. Furthermore there is a lot of snow expected as we heard today.
Let’s see.
February 24, 2010: 121st short message (09:03 a.m. CET)

We just finished with the cars and trailers. Unexpectedly and severely we have to pass another, very difficult test at the moment. The team is struggling. Tomorrow will bring a decision, I believe. Difficult times.

February 25, 2010: 122. short message (12:53 p.m. CET)

The test is over. The team has struggled, it has struggled very hard. A crack in the relationship between two people could – despite all friendship that connected and still connects our team – not be fixed. After such a long time of struggling, holding on, waiting and working hard, ther will now be a change in team members. Jefgeny Konstantinov will go back to Moscow, Konstantin Savva will join the team again. What exactly happened will remain within the team, but Jefgeny had a hard time making this decision. He was struggling for a long time. At the end though, there was only the flight back.

My good friend, I thank you for the time we spent together, for the great navigation you did even during complete blind flights, your calmness, you reliability, the partnerschip. Jefgeny, you were a great partner. I regret that you cannot continue with us.

The team will leave tomorrow morning.
February 26, 2010: 123rd short message (05:43 a.m. CET)

12 p.m. After saying goodbye to the administration, to many many people and friends, we left.

1 p.m. Another damage on the axle on the F2 trailer. It took us 4 hours. Are ready to start again. The wheel bearing including drum broke off and a complete wheel has been lost. With Alexander’s help we got a spare part from Aletr Axles in Providenia. In the meantime we checked all other axle bearings and readjusted them. The most difficult part of it was to lift one side from the trailer which was completely sunken in snow.

5 p.m. Let’s continue!
February 26, 2010: 124th short message (07:51 a.m. CET)

We just arrived in New Chaplena. But we will not stop and continue our drive right away to make use of the night light (very good view due to moonlight) and the icy temperatures of up to -35°C. We hope that the deep snow that now goes 20 km to the bay will freeze during the night and carry us.
February 26, 2010: 125th short message (10:58 a.m. CET)

Got stuck for about 1.5 hours. We had to take the twin-tires off because the rims were breaking. Right now we are in the deep snow between New Chaplena and Sinavinslkie bay. We are accompanied by our two Skidoo drivers Vladimir and Konstantin who turn around and go back to Providenia now to sleep. They will join us again in the morning. Until Lavrentia, the new team member and substitute for Jefgeny is Valerie Borisovitsch, our friend from Providenia. He is driving in Rudi’s car and Victor is with me.

February 27, 2010: 126th short message (00:32 a.m. CET)

08.30 a.m. Yesterday we made it up to 2.5 km in front of the bay. Since everybody was exhausted, we stopped to go to sleep. Weather is okay, winds with drifts at the ground (we are located in a valley, so downslope winds would be worse), the sky is clear. From our location we can already see the bay (or better: where it should be if there was water). We hope to manage the last two kilometers without complications. Then we will see how we get onto the ice.
February 27, 2010: 127th short message (04:30 a.m. CET)

3 p.m. We arrived at the bay. After a short stop to put on our security clothing we continued. Let’s see if the ice will last. The entry was alright. By now, the crack froze again. Very good.




February 27, 2010: 128th short message (06:23 a.m. CET)

04.30 p.m. F2 subsided. The water pushed into the right trail. We had to react fast. We managed it with a very long rope on the trailer of F1 and lots of winching. Now we are driving again.

05.30 p.m. A Skidoo driver is going back to Providenia due to hypothermia. We winch and crawl our way forward on deep snow on ice. First gear at creep rate.

Another 34 km to Jandrekinot.
 

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Wow, what an adventure. I really like reading your updates. Good luck to your entire team.
 

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February 27, 2010: 129th short message (10:14 a.m. CET)

F1 broke really badly into the snow. It sunk more than one meter into the snow. Underneath is water. It took us three hours to get it out again.

We are still at that place, trying to get over the crack that seems to be underneath. We move forwards half a meter and another half a meter with the help of sand sheets. It wouldn’t be possible without the sand sheets. We shovel, winch, pull, etc. It’s drudgery with no end.

Just now there was a little bit Russian romantic when we made a fire, made some tee (as well as coffee), cut some bread, ate some onions and sausage. We heard that Russian soldiers are doing it just like that.
Now we are trying to continue. It’s best if you just forget that you are in the middle of a bay on ice with 16 tons of weight. Then it’s fine. But if you think about it, you get queasy, even though the ice is about 80 cm thick.
Just now the wind slowed down, which caused the snowflakes to remain on the ground and not get swirled back in the air. For a couple of minutes we were able to see the lights of Jandrekinot in the far distance.
February 27, 2010: 130th short message (11:24 a.m. CET)

How does it work, what we are doing here right now?
Tires 0.1 in the front and 0.2 in the rear.
First we try to get F1 through the deep snowfields by shoveling and with sand sheets. Then we winch the F! trailer with the rear winch on F1 from about 80 meters away to about 40 meters away. Then we use the F1 trailer to winch F2 and trailer and also help with sand sheets because otherwise F2 would also break in. Drudgery, but that’s the only way to do it.
Without the awesome winch system with pluggable winches in the front and rear: zero point zero chance. This is the only way to get the modified trailers with skid and one-axle-operation through it. The modifications were worth it. The material by Roka and BPW is great.
..........

February 28, 2010: 131st short message (00:22 a.m. CET)

Have been on the ice of the bay for 24 hours now. It is an unbelievable drudgery. F1 and F2 broke completely into water traps. 200 m in 13 hours. What a bummer!
We were able to free ourselves from the worst water trap. We didn’t sleep since 10 a.m. yesterday morning. The team is doing well and mentally strong.
On it goes.
February 28, 2010: 132nd short message (07:13 p.m. CET)

By now we have worked for 36 hours non-stop. As described, we got right into the water traps that we have been warned of and had to free ourselves from them. But there’s no other way than the bay. Therefore we have to get through it.
Especially the winching, next to the continuous shoveling and carrying of sand sheets is exhausting In order to winch F1 we need ice anchors. They consist of an about 80 cm long, round piece of wood around whose middle is tied a winch rope. Then we sink the piece of wood at right angle to the traction direction inside a snow hole which we have dug all the way to the ice. We add three additional ice stakes into this 80-100 cm deep hole and thus secure the piece of wood. Then we knock it as deep as possible into the ice on which the wooden piece lies. Due to the fact that there is water on the ice, this is a wet issue. The gloves freeze within seconds.
February 28, 2010: 133rd short message (10:29 p.m. CET)

6 a.m. After having slept at least for a couple of hours, we take off again. Right now the temperature is -35°C. Therefore we hope that the water froze a little bit more so that we will be able to drive and not winch.
March 01, 2010: 134th short message (07:22 a.m. CET)

We are currently at N 64°51.821’ / W 172°43.365’.

Yesterday evening we managed to place both cars and both trailers together on a secure section of “watersnow”. Then we fell into a deep sleep. Later that evening, when two Skidoo drivers and Vladimir and Jefgeny came from Providenia to visit us, at least I only noticed that while being half asleep.
Today everything worked out better. The low temperatures of the night caused the aspic-mixture to freeze. The new Wrangler MTR can prove their strengths once again and let us progress.

This watersnow is due to three huge cracks which form every year in the bay. Two of them are diagonally to the bay, one is parallel. On the photos that we will send, the third crack will be visible. The cracks are about 40-60 cm wide. The third crack, for example, had only about 10 cm of ice at one spot.

What caused us to slow down today were seal holes. Seals need air to breathe. But considering that everything is frozen, nature came up with an amazing instrument and gave the seals “super breath”. With their super breath the seals aspirate holes into the ice in order to get to the fresh air. More or less circular holes form, which fill up with water. If it snows for a longer period of time, the holes blow over and a delusive layer forms.
We got caught in many of them today. Once we hit it with a front wheel, once with a rear wheel, once with a wheel of the trailer. There have to be many of those colleagues here.
If you drive over the holes with enough speed and break in, it will pull out you axle. This is because the holes with water and snow on top will cause an about 1.5 x 1.5 meters wide hole to arise. Therefore we have to go very slowly. This way we might still break in, but nothing will be damaged.
And it’s better not to try and close the holes by shoveling snow into them so that we can put sand sheets over them, because then it might be that you find the next hole with the next shovel and break in with your feet. And then you are wondering why you are suddenly 60 cm lower (this happened just like that).
March 01, 2010: 135th short message (07:30 a.m. CET)

5 p.m. We just arrived at the mainland and thus in Jandrekinot. Awesome!
We are all happy to have made it through the bay. Great team!
Right away we were welcomed by a Skidoo. A father with two boys. Immediately after the police arrived. We were welcomed very friendly, they checked our paperwork. Everything alright.

Now we drive into the village and leave right after. The weather is great, but it will get really bad again. Due to the amazing and very accurate weather forecast of the German Weather Service, two hurricanes are expected. One will start on Friday. Until then, we are planning to have made a good part of the section towards Lavrentia.
Anyway, we are trying to reach a settlement before Lavrentia. If we can’t make it, we will have to stay in the cars during the hurricanes.

Let’s see how bad the section will be.
March 01, 2010: 136th short message (07:06 p.m. CET)

3 a.m. We are progressing well. We just finished a little pass behind Jandrekinot and slept for three hours. We are already driving again because we have to make use of the weather. We are winding between two little mountain ranges and crazy snow drifts that are hard as concrete.

Current position: N 64°58.172‘ / W 172°25.621‘
The team is doing well.
 

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March 02, 2010: 137th short message (09:45 p.m. CET)

Bad, bad.
Last night, after we heard a clicking noise from the left rear, we noticed that four of five stud bolts had fallen off. On closer inspection we realized that the stud bolts on the right side were also loose, just like the ones on F2. All bolts became loose in the track extensions, they swerved. But we need them, because the manufacturer, the original company who did the modifications, drilled the holes for the beadlock’s tube in the wrong place of the rim. All of that, having to take the tires down and putting them back on in the snow, exchanging the spare wheel, etc. caused us 12 hours of work under hardest terms. At around 7 p.m. a blizzard started. Bad, bad, bad.
Additionally, a stench arose in F2, which smelt like rotten eggs. We cleared out the whole car (you cannot imagine how tough this is under these terms). There was snow in/under/above/on the car, in the clothes, in the equipment, everything covered in snow. Finally we noticed that the battery in the back on the right side had a short-circuit, was very hot and threatened to explode. Therefore we removed it.
I cannot write anymore at the moment. We’re wiped out now. The storm is blowing again but we´re ready to depart. Outside it’s hard to bear. Some of us were developing frostbites on their face and hands. We took care that there were no unprotected places and we wore all protective clothing we have.

We hope to continue. Snowdrifts within minutes. Crazy.

March 03, 2010: 138th short message (06:26 a.m. CET)

11 a.m. Are driving for quite a while at 5-10 meters sight. Only the GPS navigates.
But we have to continue. The blizzard now is just the foretaste of the two low-pressure systems which are expected to be here no later than two days from now. We try to stay on an old Vestichot track. At the moment we have 1,300 l gasoline and food for 14 days with us. In terms of figures we could endure the storms for 14 days in the tundra with the engine running non-stop. Additionally four days worth of food for an emergency, excluding an indoor heater by Webasto. After that it will be very hard to continue, because the lows will bring snow.
The team is doing well and strong. No permanent damage due to frostbites. Everybody warmed up again and has their feeling back in the places where frostbites have been.

4 p.m. No chance to do anything right now. We can’t see anything. Tough blizzard. There is no possibility to continue. We have parked the cars next to each other and placed a tent over the front of the cars to protect the engines.
We are going to eat something now and then lay down. Hopefully the storm will slow down at night, then we’ll continue.

Right now we are about 60 kilometres from Lorino at N 65°09.595 / W 172°12.403.
The iridium works. We can be reached via telephone, fax and e-mail. Everything is fine. Hopefully we won’t be stuck here forever.



















March 03, 2010: 139th short message (07:16 p.m. CET)

4 a.m. It is still storming madly. By now, the snowdrifts around us are like a sandcastle. Without taking the wind into consideration, it’s a severe cold of about -30°C. With this wind this could easily be -40°C or lower. We can only take the gloves off for a few seconds. Just now we had to - among other things - refuel and wrap the air intake socket with cloth. We had to cover it with cloth because otherwise snow would get in, and that wouldn’t be good for the engine heating system. This entire procedure is crazy under these conditions. Within seconds you are covered in swirling snow, icicles form on you eyelashes as if they wanted to grow all the way to your chin.
Right when we stepped out of the cars I noticed a burnt smell. Immediately we started to look for its source. I remembered this situation in Jakutsk where we were also in the middle of a blizzard. Back then, ice blocked the fan engines and they burned through. When we opened the hood of F2 we noticed that this was the case here as well. Once again, F2 causes us work before we can continue.
For now we carved the cars in snow, covered the entire lower part with snow. This will not be any fun when we have to get back out of it. Boy, oh boy!
Apart from that, the vehicles work, even though they are not completely air tight (in a snow storm like that, snow gets inside through every little gap/seal – just like in the desert, the sand also gets everywhere).

Other than that, the team is doing well, all is okay.
Our position is still the same: N 65°09.549 / W 172°12.404
March 04, 2010: 140th short message (08:31 a.m. CET)

Captured in the blizzard, we are sitting tight.
It’s not really that nice and takes a lot of nerves. The storm is pulling on the vehicles, the protection, the constructional systems. We hardly see anything, our clothes are wet, partly frosted, the feet are cold, the insides of the car where we change our heavy clothing is rather small. And whoever might think that we are lazily sitting in the car for 30 hours now, is badly mistaken.
First, the temperature of F2 rose. Currently F2 is without a fan because we were not able to repair it in this storm. Then, one after another, the indoor fans of both cars gave out. This was very aggravating because this was the last option to cool the engine of F2 down; and it was also starting to get damned cold in F1.
After removing the glove compartment, we noticed that the fans were completely covered with snow – despite the fact that we completely sealed the air intakes with cloths. Ice and snow got into the fans and threatened to block them. In my head I already started to dislocate my joints in order to acrobatically climb from my driver’s seat over Victor, the passenger’s seat, between the computers, etc. And dive head-first into the foot space. Just like this and while the blood started to flood into my brain, I wanted to remove the fan. But Victor had a better idea.
In the meantime it had gotten really cold in the car (because the cooler for the engine was off), we had turned on the Webasto heaters. It was releasing roaring heat and it is so genius that we used two curing tube extensions (which I had brough to Egvekinot just in case) and Victors idea to divert the air jet right onto the heater unit inside the dashboard. This way, the ice melted within minutes and the fan was working again, just like the heater. After using the same method on the second vehicle, the temperature of F2’s engine can be regulated again.
By now, we also use the hot-air jet of the Webasto heater to heat our water. It won’t boil this way, but it gets really hot. Amazing.
Besides that there is always the anxiety that the next component won’t last. The snowdrifts pile up. We have to dig out F2 from the snow every other hour, because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to open the doors again. We scrape the ice and the snow off the insides of the doors; dislocate our feet in order to get closer to the upper air jet. The one down below is too weak, the foot space has about zero degrees. This is not for the faint-hearted.
 

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What an adventure! Thanks for the update.
 

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Wont be long until they cross the Bering Strait!

I've been using the link to show a map of their current position since google maps doesn't seem to like Lat Lon coordinates for some reason:
http://itouchmap.com/latlong.html

Kind of neat to see where the are on a map when they're posting these updates.
 

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Discussion Starter #115
More new photos at http://bit.ly/auCc7D





March 03, 2010: 141st short message (01:46 a.m. CET)

7 a.m. The storm slowed down for awhile. This gave us the chance to repair the fan of F2 in five hours. We have to further protect F2 with snow and built a protection for the “restroom” (igloo style). All of it to better the conditions in which we have to refuel the tanks, even though it is still tough. We were able to improve the state of our position.

A continuation is still not possible, yet. The sight is less than ten meters.
The team is doing well, the atmosphere is good, the Russian-German friendship very strong, excellent companionship. Engines are working. Position remains unchanged.
March 05, 2010: 142nd short message (08:46 p.m. CET)

6 a.m. After the third night, on the third day, the storm finally slowed down. Less snow is in the air. The sight is about 50-60 m.

We will start to dig out the cars and defrost the axles and gear box with the Webasto hot-air jet (the oil froze; we cannot start driving like that). It will take approximately eight hours. Then – if the weather didn’t change by then – we will try to continue our journey.
March 06, 2010: 143rd short message (01:29 a.m. CET)

11 a.m. We dug F1 out and are now trying to make a track. The burner-lamp doesn’t work. Even the Webasto jet that we are trying to point at the axles gets blown away by the storm. Thus we cannot heat the oil up – we have to try it like this.

The sight remained at about 50 meters. Hopefully we will be able to “break out”.

2 p.m. We started.
March 06, 2010: 144th short message (05:46 a.m. CET)

The break-out succeeded. We fight our way meter for meter. Just now we managed two difficult ice passages and thus reached a headland.

Current position: N 65°13.176 / W 172°12.393
March 06, 2010: 145th short message (09:39 a.m. CET)

8.30 p.m. Just now we took a break after a difficult inclined drive and a rise with many snow drifts from the shore all the way to the seafront. We drank some warm coffee and ate something.

Outside is a raging storm again and we also turn up. But this time we turn up the music. After the last few days in imprisonment and today’s break-out, we are just happy for once. We turn up the music as far as it will go and send each other one song after another via radio.

Thanks to Christopher, Rudi has a mere endless supply of songs of all kinds. And I have enough songs on the hard drive of F1 to create a hit parade. Oh well, once in a while even we need that.

Anyway, it’s awesome that we are no longer stuck in the snowstorm. Let’s see if we can manage the pass that’s ahead of us.

Three kilometers ago we noticed during a stop that F2’s upper axle bearing in the front swerves. The long-arm dangles. Oh well, as usual we use some belts and copper wire, the strength of two men, some luck, a protection against the wind, one hour, and the thing is almost welded – except that it’s only “welded” with cloth. Let’s see how long that will last.

The team is doing well. Our current position: N 65°15.710 / W 172°12.030
March 06, 2010: 146th short message (01:15 p.m. CET)

11 p.m. Awesome: During snow flurries, wind, in the middle of the night and sometimes no sight at all, we reached the pass at N 65°17.119 / W 172°13.385
March 06, 2010: 147th short message (11:56 p.m. CET)

We will stop now to get some sleep.

Current position: N 65°20.164 / W 172°12.642

March 07, 2010: 148th short message (01:33 a.m. CET)

9 a.m. The weather is better. We can see around 60-80 m, less wind, less snow.

Now, after some hours of sleep, we will continue.

Our position: N 65°20.891 / W 172°12.383

We just met two hunters with a russian snow mobile, who were pulling a hunting boat made from walrus skins. Awesome, but at the same time it’s crazy that they can actually go in the water with this. The person using it must be very light; the paddles are hardly 10 cm wide. Interesting how they also want to pull seals in there.

12.30 p.m. We are approaching Lorino. Severe snow drifts complicate advancement. Again and again we have to uncouple the F1 trailer, make a track with F1 and sand sheets, load everything, attach the trailer, and continue.

Current position: N 65°23.002 / W 172°11.084

March 07, 2010: 149th short message (05:01 a.m. CET)

At N 65°24.934 / W 172°09.521, we just arrived at a refuge for fishermen. There we met two hunting parties from Lorina who are hunting seals. Warm welcome. Now we have about another 25 km to Lorino. We take a short break, then we have to refuel and then we will fight our way again.
March 07, 2010: 150th short message (07:26 a.m. CET)

6 p.m. We arrived at a spiritual place of the Chukots. Our position is N 65°27.359 / W 172°06.597. At this place on the narrow headland, bones of whales are sticking up into the air for meters.

They were erected here as a spiritual memorial. Sacrifices are made here, as Victor explains to me. That’s what we do. As a representative for all of us, Victor goes to the bones with good food – our favorite chocolate, bread, etc. – and gives it to the gods as appeasement. We will see if it helps. When Victor climbs back into the car and sits for a moment, his knife, which he had placed tightly in the dashboard right in front of him, falls into the foot space. Actually this isn’t possible.

Even if you pull on it you can’t get it loose and he didn’t even touch it. Strange. This was the first time that it fell down and he thinks it’s a sign that the gods have seen us and said okay.

Now Rudi gets out of the car as well, wants to see the place by himself. He is standing there for a while, facing away from us, looking into the far distance.

Maybe this is really a magical place.

By now it is dark. Nobody says anything. Neither in the car, nor via radio. Everyone is in thoughts and somehow it is as if the expedition stood still in everyone’s minds as well for a moment.

I will get some sleep here.

March 07, 2010: 151st short message (09:00 a.m. CET)

The last 5 km were really tiring. We had to uncouple and attach the trailer about 40 times, made a track, drove back, etc. But now we reached the utter end of the headland at N 65°29.027 / W 172°04.992. This means that only 15 km are left until Lorino. We have to drive 1-3 km over sea ice in order to get onto the other headland. But this depends on the ice situation. We won’t go about it at night. We wait for daylight,

Team alright, fuel reserves okay. The engine of F1 stutters due to problems with its fuel supply. At the next opportunity we will have to clean the fuel pump. Additionally we have had an overheated servo steering; air in the system. When we weld the axle of F2, we also have to repair this.

We lay down to sleep. It was a tough day.
 

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March 08, 2010: 152nd short message (06:56 a.m. CET)

8 a.m. We started. 15 km on ice and a headland lie between us and Lorino. We hope that we’ll make it today.

4.30 p.m. After eleven days in snow and ice – on a track which, according to our information, has never been covered by cars, let alone with trailers and of one’s own accord, four men depending on themselves – we just reached Lorino. Considering that many people didn’t think we could make it, we are more than just a little pleased.

5.30 p.m. After an affectionate greeting with many children, the registration and check of the papers, we are going back on the road and heading towards Lavrentia now. 43 km.

Current position: N 65°32.323 / W 171°16.683
March 08, 2010: 153rd short message (12:56 p.m. CET)

Midnight. We reached the suburbs of Lavrentia. Currently we are three kilometers outside of the city on a hill (current Position: N 65°35.577 / W 171°04.660) and decided to stay here for the night, drive to the city tomorrow morning.

At this point I would like to thank Valeriy, a great guy. A man who doesn’t care that others thought he’s crazy when he decided to accompany the expedition.

Thank you for helping us out. We liked to travel with you, you have been a great fellow, tough and reliable. Thank you for your cheerful nature and your high spirits! Valeriy will now go back to Providenia and Konstantin Savva will take his place in the team. Therefore the team remains equally parted in Russian/German team members.
March 09, 2010: 154th short message (02:19 a.m. CET)

We will drive into the city now. From here to Uelen it is another 80 km linear distance. We will check up on the cars for the next 2-3 days and try to drive towards Uelen at the end of the week.
Find more pictures at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=152000&id=41595873841&ref=mf









 

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Discussion Starter #118
March 10, 2010: 155th short message (08:16 p.m. CET)

We received a very warm welcome here in Lavrentia. Immediately after we drove into the city, the head of administration welcomed us. They organized everything for us, a small apartment with kitchen, a warm box in which we can repair the cars (partly we already got some things done, e.g. welding of the front axles, modification of the tires, changing batteries, checking everything, etc.).

Really awesome. A very sincere welcome in this exceptional city at the end of Chukotka. We were invited to have a little presentation in the cultural center of the city tomorrow.

Currently we plan to leave for Uelen at the weekend.
March 12, 2010: 156th short message (05:59 a.m. CET)

Following up on the invitation, we visited the school today. There were about 80 children who attended our little speech. Afterwards we were invited to an excellent meal in the school’s assembly hall.
Slowly, the preparations for the safety during the Bering Strait crossing come to a final. Right now we are checking/completing the emergency equipment. The cars are almost ready. We only have to dismantle/reattach the tanks to clean the fuel pump, check/adjust the wheel bearings of the trailers, fuel up, do some grocery shopping, and then we weill try to get back on the street on Sunday morning.
...

March 14, 2010: 157th short message (11:50 p.m. CET)

We will take off towards Uelen in about three hours. A difficult track with many inclinations and five passes lies ahead of us. Furthermore there will be a narrow spot with open water from a river.
Behind us, a storm is building which puts pressure on us. A storm warning has already been given to the administration. We hope not to be hit full on by the storm and to arrive in Uelen in 3-4 days.
Team is doing alright. From now on we can only be reached via satellite mail.
...

March 15, 2010: 158th short message (08:01 a.m. CET)

Just hit the road. Driving in darkness. Had problems with trailer of F2 and the new servo pump of F1 broke down once again. Luckily we had another one. Now it just cannot brake down again.
Another 100km to the easternmost place of Asia.
March 15, 2010: 159th short message (01:36 p.m. CET)

We left at 6.30 p.m.
On recommendation of vestichot drivers from Lavrentia, we crossed the large bay of Lavrentia – of course on ice – in a western curve. The entire distance on ice: 8 km. No problem, except for some cracks that we could easily drive around. But then, a difficult sedimentation at the shore with 800 m steep inclination.
Sensational, how the Wrangler MT/Rs clung to the snow.

Now, our position is N 65°39.811 / W 170°53.617
About 92 km to Uelen left.
 

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March 15, 2010: 160th short message (04:03 p.m. CET)

Nine hours for 14 kilometers – not bad.

Current position: N 65°44.185 / W 170°53.227

Everything is okay. 86 km to go.
............

March 16, 2010: 161st short message (00:30 a.m. CET)

8 a.m. After four hours of sleep, a lukewarm cup of coffee and a couple of cookies, we continued our drive. Our way (GPS-track which is usually used be the Vestichot supply drivers) leads us across a large plateau which is – in the distance – framed by ridges. The impression of endless vastness is amplified by dazzling light that spreads through snow, haze and sunrays.

Vanishingly small, like a “nothing”, we slowly move through this vastness with our vehicles and trailers. The speed of 2 km/h is doing the rest.



At this point we would like to say a special thank you to the administration and the “JHK”, Lavrentia’s communal service, for their help and support. Especially the provision of the two working areas in the local garages for the repair of our two vehicles was a big help.




March 16, 2010: 162nd short message (00:55 a.m. CET)

12 p.m. Are progressing well. Current position: N 65°50.593 / W 170°50.588

There’s a storm in Anadyr and Providenia, while we are driving through the most beautiful sunshine. The weather forecast – according to which the storm is supposed to pass right over us – is amazingly good. Right now we are in the midst of a high, which squeezed between two low-pressure systems. I am dumbfounded about how great the weather data of the DWD are that we receive, and completely rely on these information to a 100% in all regards.

70 km to go.

March 16, 2010: 163rd short message (05:06 a.m. CET)

4 p.m. Another damage on the fan’s engine. It slowed us down. Afterwards we entered the most difficult part of the section: a canyon that is difficult to drive and that ends in the inclination to a pass. Great, we are digging for two hours at the same spot. Difficult/tired.

March 16, 2010: 164th short message (12:01 p.m. CET)

5 p.m. Moved forwards meter for meter. But now there is absolutely no sight for the drivers. Due to the light, snow and haze, we can’t recognize any outlines anymore, even with our yellow glasses anymore. Everything is a white-blue soup. Decided to take a break and stay for the night. We will sleep for about three hours. Then we will try to drive/work for the rest of the night. Are approximately 500 meters before the first of five passes.

7.30 p.m. A horrible sound wakes me from my sleep. My engine? I pull the door open. No, everything’s fine. Then it has to be Rudi’s car. What a bummer! I jump out, stumble drowsily towards F2, fall, and then see two lights that appear behind F2: a drilled out Vestichot or one without an exhaust pipe.
Wow, man. Nobody needs a scare like that.
The bottom line is that this turned out to be good for us because a) we would have had to get up anyway, and b) the Vestichot now prepares a track, at least for a couple of kilometers before it heads towards Naschken. We can follow this track and have it a little easier. We drive in the track with one wheel and only have to shovel for the other. Once again a great coincidence.

Durrent position: N 65°54.331 / W 170°43.951
Everything alright.
 
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