Stories from Baikal part 2 2. - COLD

Stories from Baikal part 2 2. – COLD

Among many questions regarding Baikal Ice Trip probably most common were those concerning famous siberian frosts.
– Was it cold? (Yeach it was.) The coldest temperature?? (-35ºC.) And weren't you afraid of these frosts? (No. They live somewhere else) Does any gear breaks from such a cold? (It breaks. E.g. handlebars:)) Have you seen polar bears? (No. They live somewhere else)
So, today's text will be about cold .

Another from the F.A.Q. – Couldn't you go somewhere, where it's warm? Mallorca, for example??

Well, I would recommend to read article "ciepło" (not translated into English), which I wrote long time ago, in 2007 Montenegro. One year later I went to Mongolia, where it also was warm enough, but the highest temperature record came in 2009 along with 3000km trip to Athens. Riding from 6 am to 11 and then 18 to 23 is really quite annoying. But what can you do if during the day temperature rises over 40ºC? It's also hard to find a piece of land for siesta in Greece- everywhere some spikes, giant spiders, dead turtles. Or in Albania - among waste. It was then, when we agreed with my friend Wicher, next trip will be to polar circle. And so we did. In summer on the Perisan Gulf I discovered temperatures around 50ºC and I really do not recommend that to anybody. That's when it came to me, - why not go to Syberia, making year's temperature difference around. 90ºC.

So, that's the reason why we chose cold, Syberia, and Baikal. Of course we had a bunch of other reasons, which were mentioned somewhere else, or were not, it doesn't matter.

28 th February, we get off the cosy train to set our feets on depressive platform in Severobaikalsk. Giant clock on the station building announces triumphally – 19ºC. And it's only 15, 00 - the warmest time of the day. Oh so thaaat's real Syberia. We put on our warmest clothes, balaclavas, thickest gloves, and whatever we got there. But it's still freaking cold. We revolve around the city for few hours, looking for sim card, Internet, shop, hairdresser (sic!:)). Finally we evacuate directing Nizneangarsk, 25 km North, hoping to find warm shelter at Marina Aleksandrovna's, friend of a friend from a train. But Marina „ne beryot trubky”, which means doesn't answer. With each unsucessfull call we get more and more depressed , losing hope for warm first night at Baikal. Its getting late. 20 00 we're in Nizneangarsk, – 30 ºC on termometres, and no sign of anybody on the streets.

– We can stand next to the shop, as usual, and pretend we're frozen cyclist? ? suggests Wicher.

Nice idea, but hard to accomplish. It is already 20, in the evening, when it's – 30ºC, so guess what, there's nobody. Anywhere, Even village shop is closed. Oh my, does it mean they also don't like frost here?.

Well, all that's left is to ride reluctantly to the most northern side of the lake and put our tent there. So we ride. Slowly , veeery slowly. Wicher grumbles that , he doesn't feel his fingers. And I'm mad on my moustache. Carefully cultivated for 2 weeks, it was supposed to protect me from the cold, but instead they are great place for snots and snow, making me feel even colder.

It's not how we imagined the beggining, it's not how it was supposed to end! Quick glance on the termometre , doesn't leave any hope. – 32ºC already.

And that's when Sasha and Tanya flew straight down from heaven to save us.

– Where do you sleep? In a tent, you say? You're out of your mind? You're going with us!

So, first night we were lucky. And for several others also - first night after riding on ice we slept in a scrubby hut with a stove who produced more smoke than old locomotive. Let it smoke, maybe we won't suffocate, as long as it's much warmer than outside. The foollowing day I broke handlebar, but - happiness in misfortune - I managed to push my broken bicycle to another hut. It was quite luxurious comparing to the first one, so comfortable we got bored of it.

Only after a week we were forced to set our tent on ice for the first time. We wanted to get as close as possible to crevasse - paradoxically it's the safest place, the ice won't break for the second time just next to old crevasse. Unfortunatelly, no crevasses today. All covered by treacherous snow. And the sun is setting down, temperature falling with every minute. So maybe here - I show the place 5 - 4 meters from our path, all covered by snow, the place that doesn't differ in any detail from billion others snowy places on the lake. thermometer shows – 20ºC. We put up the tent. throw our bags inside, meanwhile it's – 25ºC. Quick piss and jump into the sleeping bag marks the happiest moment of the day, but what the hell, it's -30ºC. Wicher is cooking. aaaand coooooking. aaaand coooooking.

Meanwhile Baikal is cracking angrily somewhere below us. Creaks, Squeaks. Crunches. From time to time you can feel slight shake - that may be just another earthqake - there are over 2000 of them each year, which means several a day.

– Ready! I see bubbles! - he screams after an hour.
– Let's assume, it's boiling - I mumble half-asleep.

Our food for astronauts just a minute after adding water becomes cold, yuck. It's -35ºC. And we still need to boil snow for tea. „Ha, ha, I'm so happy my turn to boil will be only in the morning”, I think to myself, but just a minute later God punishes me for such selfish thoughts - I have to go pee… Well, how do you cope with physiological needs in such cold? „Just the same, only much faster" - once said famous Polish polar Marek Kaminski. I jump back into sleeping back, remembering his words. We don't take off nor the pants, nor jacket, down jacket goes under the back, wet socks inside, I put on two new, dry, pairs, and add warm (from staying in my perineum) down gloves. A cap tight on head, covers the eyes, nose to the sleeping bag.

Wicher is still fighting with boiling machine, and I'm swimming away. I'd like to worry a little, imagine, that suddenly straight under our tent a huge crevasse is opening. and we fall down into the lake, along with a tent, with no chances to survive. Statistically, chances for that are smaller than winning a lottery– but hey, somebody wins it from time to time. But I'm too tired, to worry about anything.

Wicher on the contrary - in the morning he says he didn't sleep half a night, imagining all the things that can happen. I woke up only twice, from stronger iceshakes. Now it's my turn to boil snow, and it's no easier than in the evening. But it's not the worst part - after eating you definately have to get off your warm and cozy sleeping bag, but your frozen shoes on and try to be positive in those unwelcoming conditions.




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