|2004-10-19 - Reflections
19 Oct - 16.35
Written by Johan Ivarsson
Zyryanka, -20°C, sunny. A decimeter of snow covering the ground.
It is Tuesday the 18:th of October and the sun is shining strongly
through the window. The icy patterns, caused by the frost during the night, is still there despite the warm rays from the sun. Fishermen can be seen through the window as they are trying their luck out on the newly frozen ice on a small river that connects with Kolyma. It is close to the center of Zyryanka. I see a snowmobile, a Russian variety called buran (heavy with only one wide ski in the front and double tracked at the back), passing the river. There´s no doubt winter has arrived to Zyryanka!
After spending almost a week in Zyryanka we´re starting to get a
perspective of the life here. The stress we had in the beginning, with everything that had to be taken care of, is finally settling and we´ve had time to think a little bit more about what we have waiting ahead of us, that freezing cold and long skiing-part of the Expedition.
Kolyma is on the verge of getting covered with ice but the strong
current forces us to wait, probably one more month, before we dare to move on. The ice is a major problem for us, if we fall through and end up in the freezing water, well, that´s the end of life! Due to the heavy sledges/pulks we have to pull and the extremely strong current, we will have no chance to get back up.
Yesterday another complication materialized due to heavy snowfall over the last few days. What happens is that the snow covers the thin ice that is already there and isolates it from the cold which will stop it from getting thicker. It will also hide weak parts of the ice that would have been a lot easier to spot and avoid before the snowfall.
We´ve become conscious that the people here in Zyryanka also have great respect for the Kolyma River and it´s currents during the winter.
Everyone we´ve talked to so far have advised us not to go at all, and nobody seems to know exactly when the ice will be strong enough.
Yesterday, when we spoke to a women about this problem, she asked us if we really wanted to do this, to head out on this weak and insecure ice in this extreme cold? She reckoned we were better off if we took a transport plane out of the region as fast as possible, and she was dead sure, if we did that:
´´Everything would be fine!´´
Another problem we´re facing, an obstacle we´ve pointed out before, is the extreme cold we will have to cope with. It is not only a question how to muddle through with it ourselves, the equipment also have to face this extreme climate. A Russian acquaintance now living in the States with a good knowledge of the area, told us that when the temperature drops as low as -60°C, rubber for example, turns really sensitive and will break like glass when handling it!
The only certain thing we know about the winter right now, is the fact that it will be extremely cold! And to be able to survive during the coldest periods we have to plan meticulously, be smart, think ahead and calculate the obstacles waiting, and if we do that, than nothing can go wrong!
Kolyma with it´s strong currents, mixed with this extreme cold is not a good combination if you want to ski!