Diary of the Arctic leg of a transglobal car expedition
Translated from Russian by Igor' Lebedev  

12.05.2024 Day 121. Nord Station.

As I expected, we were prohibited from taking photos and videos at the base. They collected passports and conducted a full search of the cars for weapons. Vaudeville developed in parallel with our departure. The police insisted that we leave Greenland as quickly as possible. As a result, in exchange for agreeing to fly out today, they will help us get our cars in order. In the end, 6 people are flying away today: Badulin, Safonov, Zaitsev, Andrew, Gavrilov and Ya. The remaining six: Elagin, Vankov, Ershov, Obikhod, Dubinin. They stay for one day, put the cars in order and put them in storage and fly to Spitsbergen tomorrow. There will be no photos of the base. But I want to say that the order here is ideal. Despite all the concerns, everything was eventually agreed upon. Now we are sitting, waiting for the plane. We took off safely and landed on Spitsbergen two hours later.

V. Shakhovsky


11.05.2024 Day 120. Results of the day: a total of 74 km covered. We arrived at the Nord Station. Odometer reading 6141 km.

Let's move on.

We just received a message from the police at the base. They quite sharply demand that we drive to the base without stopping overnight. True, this coincides with our desire, but it is still unpleasant. Nevertheless. We get up for the last gas station.

This is probably the beginning of one of the final days of the Arctic stage of our trip around the world. There are 72 km left to the Nord Station base, from where we will fly to Spitsbergen. We didn't get up for the night. We took a break for a late dinner and at 1:20 we rushed east. There is still no sun. The ice in the bay is smooth.

2:00 60 km remaining

3:00 44 km remaining

4:00 25 km remaining

5:20 10 km left to Nord Station. We stopped to take a group photo with Emel in the background. And then suddenly they won’t allow you to take pictures at a military base.

We started moving. The final 10 km. Very deep snow.

V. Shakhovsky


10.05.2024 Day 120. Results of the day: a total of 86.8 km covered. The Nord base is 72 km away. There will be no stopping.

Once again I am convinced of the correctness of the saying “The morning is wiser than the evening”. This morning, having rested and slept, we made the following decision. Two people (Yelagin and Dubinin) go on a long reconnaissance mission. The goal is to correctly choose the shortest path to the shore from which we are now several kilometers away. The military sent us a version of the route along the coast yesterday. They wrote that it is easy to pass. Thus, the tactical goal is the shore. In parallel with the reconnaissance, we begin to break out a route to the nearest zone of hummocks, along which we will begin to move

On satellite images:

  1. our location
  2. boundary of the high hummocking zone
  3. coast

So today we will try to get out of another trap. Wish us luck.

14:30 reached the coast of Greenland. The military said that the road along the coast is simple, we'll see. The Nord base is 133 km away. We are driving in a whiteout.

The police officers who are waiting for us at the military base are very worried that we cannot reach them for a long time. The fact is that there are now 4 days off in Denmark and they are stuck in the north. Well, it’s hard to blame us for anything here.

19:49 Nord Station base is 100 km away.

Another breakdown. Another jet thrust flew. Another repairing.

We just received a message from the police at the base. They quite sharply demand that we drive to the base without stopping overnight. True, this coincides with our desire, but it is still unpleasant. Nevertheless. We get up for the last gas station.

V. Shakhovsky


09.05.2024 Day 121. Results of the day: a total of 67.4 km covered. NS base is 145 km away.

Yes! The Arctic does not allow you to relax. As soon as everyone exhaled, here’s another ambush for you. I'm talking about yesterday's trap. Indeed, we have never encountered such ice before. That is OK. Now it’s clear. You can't relax. So it's now 1 hour 49 minutes. We go. The Nord base is 177 km away.

While the shift is starting and the situation is relatively calm, a slight retreat during the preparation of the expedition. I think that after the Emelya car itself, the second device that made a significant contribution to the success of the expedition is Peshnya. And with a capital letter. Ice picks!! Such a simple and primitive tool at first glance, but without it the northern stage would have been simply impossible, and how and where they came from is also a process... due to the fact that the steel of the working area of this product must be strong and hold an edge, it was a decision was made to make them from spring steel parts from one of the foreign trucks, they, in turn, were kindly provided by Lyokha Dubinin from his disassembly, then the material was given into the hands of one of the Ural blacksmiths, who, having heated the whole thing in a furnace, forged it to the desired shape, then selecting a holder of the correct length and diameter, welding-sharpening, gluing it in heat-shrinkable material and now... we are in Greenland))

19:00 Unfortunately, whiteout descended. Visibility is zero. Stopped for the night.

V. Shakhovsky


08.05.2024 Day 119. Results of the day: a total of 81.6 km covered. NS base is 188 km away.

Before writing about today, let us return to the previous day. It turned out that the situation developed as follows. For unknown reasons, the task of delivering fuel and foodstuff to us was taken by the local military staff. Maybe they think that we want to somehow deceive them and manage to infiltrate on Greenland territory, maybe they think that we want to stay here longer, or maybe they actually want to help. I don't know. But now the appearance of the military patrol on our route the day before yesterday and yesterday became clear. It turns out that there are several landing strips along the northern coast of Greenland. They are located directly at the edge of the shore. The shores are gently sloping here. It probably makes some sense. I don't know. Anyway, the military men told us the coordinates of three landing strips along our route, established regular telephone communication with the expedition, and are promptly informing us about the situation, which is as follows. At first, they decided to deliver two barrels of diesel fuel to us by a snowmobile that departed from the Nord station towards us. But yesterday the weather deteriorated sharply, and the snowmobile failed to overcome some obstacles along the route. Perhaps, hummocks. Yesterday evening, after a joint discussion of the situation with the military men, it was decided to stop and wait till morning. The weather is expected to improve, according to the forecast. The wind should calm down, and the clouds should disappear. Today, the military men suggested us to move to the nearest landing strip. It is 25 kilometers away from us to the east. The plane with the cherished barrels should arrive there. By the way, the remaining fuel is enough for 170 km. It is not enough to get to the Nord station. So, now we're awake. We depart at 7.30 a.m. and move to the designated point.

Let us return to today. We started at 7.30 a.m. and are driving to the point of fuel delivery. At 9.15 we reached the designated point. We are waiting for the plane. At 11.30, a soldier on skis came up and informed us that the plane with three barrels had taken off. He showed us the place of landing. We moved there and are waiting.

At 12.00, the plane arrived and delivered three barrels of fuel. Now nothing and no one can stop us.

After receiving fuel we moved well. We walked about 40 km and fell into a trap. In reality, we spent an hour and a half looking for a passage. Not found. We returned five km back. Looks like we found an option. But he also turned out to be so-so. As a result, at 20 o'clock we got up for dinner. After dinner, according to tradition, it’s our shift. I won’t go into detail about how we made our way, but it took 4 hours. It's one o'clock in the morning on May 9th. In 4 hours we walked 3 km. And we ended up on relatively normal ice. Right now the speed is 12 km/h

V. Shakhovsky


07.05.2024 N83°40'74", W33°41'43" as of 1:00 UTC+3, daily run is 36,3 km.

Well, the cheerful moment has come at last. But – about everything in proper order. Before lunch, we literally scrambled through huge hummocks. We passed 4.5 km, very difficult, towards the shore. When we stopped for lunch, there was still as much till the shore, judging by the pictures. It's our shift's turn. We decided to act according to the following algorithm: flight of the drone, taking a photo, planning the route, passing it on foot, then breaking it through for the vehicles, and only then the Emelyas start off. And in three hours we passed the hummocks.

Rather quickly we came out on a wide frozen water opening (polynya) running along the shore, and drove over it. We drove fast. We covered about 30 km over the frozen polynya before stopping for the night. We stopped near an iceberg. In general, today is a significant day. We broke through!!! Now - the route to the Nord Station military base, more than 300 km along the shore.

Having recovered from yesterday's euphoria, we begin another working day. At this stage, we have to drive along the coast about 350 km to the Nord Station military base, from where we will have to evacuate to Svalbard A few words about yesterday, something that was not reflected yet. First, a Danish Air Force plane flew and circled over us yesterday again. And at midnight, guests came to us. A special Arctic patrol. Two military men on a dog sled came to check our expedition. Are we complying correctly with the instructions of Greenland authorities? Everything was not just well-mannered, but rather very friendly. So, they don't leave us without attention.

V. Shakhovsky


06.05.2024 N83°40'27", W35°15'49" íà 19:30 UTC+3

Today saw what is both a great success and a great relief for our team. We always knew that the crossing from the moving ocean ice in the high latitudes to the "land fast" ice connected to the Greenland coast would be difficult, since the currents and wind push these together to create a vast graveyard of pack ice and broken sheets. Even seasoned Arctic fox Vasily Elagin said "this is not a traveling to which I was looking forward." But today we did it. It saw the most difficult ice chipping and the most technical driving of the whole expedition. And now we’re on the ice connected to Greenland. It doesn't mean we don’t still have a lot of work to do. But it does mean that the biggest unknown on the ocean is now behind us. And we will take our first full overnight sleep for many days.

Andrew Comrie-Picard


02.05.2024 N84°11'49", W36°8'23" The coordinates are given at 14:30 UTC+3

We know that today is May 2 but honestly we don’t know what expedition day it must be, as we are working on alternating 8 hour shifts. The sun is up all day and higher in the sky now, and the weather is very warm - single digits below zero in Celsius, like -5°C. In some places we can see icicles in the sun coming off ice blocks. We are probably in the most difficult terrain of the whole Arctic ice crossing: still on the moving ocean ice, but in the last 50km where the southerly current and wind push it up against the “fast” ice that is stuck to the Greenland coast. It’s littered with old pack ice that has been pushed south too, so it’s a vast ice junkyard - maybe the hardest terrain in the Arctic. And it’s late in the season and getting warm, so this is where we pull out ALL our tricks - picks, shovels, ladders, floating, muscles - to get over the terrain. Honestly we’re all pretty tired. But we’re looking at the line of the fast ice off the shore of Greenland as salvation. And… a bird flew around us today - the auspicious sailor’s sign. We’re just ice sailors.

Andrew Comrie-Picard


01.05.2024 N84°15'13", W37°56'38" Odometer reading 4631, daily run 17, useful 10 km.

The holiday of spring, labor and something else that cannot be named we met in the whiteout among hummocks and countless small, but nasty, cracks. We have elaborated the operation with ladders to perfection, the last timing is: four minutes – and the crack is behind, the entire caravan is already moving further on. The situation is worse with the open-water channels which width exceeds the length of our ladders. Visibility is needed in this case to search from the drone for a potential transition point. We strive to drive until bad visibility turns our attempts into a waste of fuel and strength. Appeals to the doctor to dispense some alcohol to the laborers in order to celebrate the day of proletariat unity encounter ruthless refusal, with motivation that we will immediately get drunk as a lord, what contravenes his conception of driving culture. So, the doctor has no confidence in people like us. There is also a refusal with the foodstuff: “I have no time, I’m busy (?), wait till a long stop, and then…” So we drive further on, not half-starved, but also not fed-up to the point of drowsiness. More exactly, drowsiness is present, but caused by fatigue, not gluttony. The yellow team are apologists of advanced technologies, the number of gadgets per capita exceeds all conceivable limits there, and when the green team pulls up the ladder on the roof from time to time to search for the route, they regard it as absolute antiquity, though they themselves periodically do not disdain to perch on the roof and survey the surroundings from there in search for passages in this primordial icy chaos. Everyone has their own priorities and toolkits; in this regard, our team has both the ladder on the roof and the drone, while the colleagues have only the drone and, occasionally, the roof. I devote so much attention to this topic because our main task is moving forward, even though time is not as pressing as before due to the refusal of Greenland authorities to permit us driving through the national park. Nevertheless, we would prefer to meet the beginning of the calendar summer on firm land rather than on drifting ice.

That's how the matters are. V. Ye.


30.04.2024 N84°35'30", W39°00'32" The coordinates are given at 10:00 UTC+3

Day 10X: We’re pushing hard for the Greenland coast and moving over difficult terrain when the weather allows, so with the advantages of Polar day we are moving without regard to the clock. Some of us are quite tired now as it requires taking shifts and sleeping in moving cars, which not everyone does equally well. However we are making time over difficult terrain. In the last 12 hours we’ve crossed, among other things, some huge ice ridges and an area of new ice in a frozen lead that was just enough to hold some of our vehicles up but not others. We disconnected all the trailers and had to pull them from shore to shore. Two Yemelya also needed pulls. In the end about 2h to go about 400 meters but we got across and then made better time afterward. About 123km to the coast of Greenland now. But difficult terrain ahead.

Andrew Comrie-Picard


29.04.2024 N84°52'09", W040°48'22". Odometer reading 4510 km.

We drive in shifts, trying to catch the good weather and, accordingly, good visibility.

The first shift is – green and blue vehicles (Dubinin, Yelagin, Ershov; and Badulin, Comrie-Picard, Obikhod). The green vehicle is leading, the blue one follows, and its crew goes out to assist in the breakdown of hummocks and search for crossings if the route is obstructed by a polynya (water opening) covered with nilas. In the second shift the yellow vehicle is leading, followed by the red one (Larin, Safonov, Shakhnovsky; and Van’kov, Gavrilov, Zaitsev). In complicated cases of heavy hummocks or crossings over thin ice, the red vehicle takes the lead, then the marching order returns to the usual one. When driving along ladders used as bridges, we are anxious sometimes for the yellow vehicle when the doctor is at the steering wheel, because he is authoritative to such extent that even when the assistant from the outside indicates him in which direction to turn the steering wheel, he may have his own opinion on this issue. Thank Heaven, we managed without turnovers. The weather, like everything in life, is sometimes better, sometimes worse, with a gradual shift towards "worse". We are moving slowly to the south, eager to press the chest to mother earth. Truly the seasoned sailors say, "The best thing in the sea is the shore".

That's how the matters are. V. Ye.


28.04.2024

Day 108 saw us despairing around lunchtime that we’d never get past a certain patch of open water, and then we found a series of ice islands and scampered across. And then we got caught in a massive dead end. But by backtracking and working around, by evening we had found a large flat section of ice. We drove 62 km in total but just under half - 30km - was actually south to Greenland. However we are now 200km away!

Andrew Comrie-Picard


27.04.2024

26.04.2024

Day "107" was in fact a continuation of day 106… the whiteout lifted and we had a good flat (or mostly flat) frozen lead ahead of us, so we decided to press on and hopefully break through on distance to Greenland. This also had the effect of switching our clocks a full 12 hours ahead to get on the time zone for Nuuk Greenland; we had been on Micronesia time to keep the sun at our backs on the 24h polar day, but now the sun is higher and the weather seems to be a bit better in the “day” for the time zone, so we ended up with one 36h work day. Pretty tired but we all got a good sleep thanks to the physical work and I think we will adjust to the time zone quickly.

Andrew Comrie-Picard


25.04.2024 N85°40'15", W042°54'30". Odometer reading 4326. Daily run 29, useful 9 km,
- the abysmal performance of the travel; I hope, the first and the last one.

At 20.00 according to the expeditionary (i.e. Magadan) time, we switched to the time zone of Nuuk in Greenland. In this way we are trying to counteract the whiteout; a couple of times it fell on us, poor creatures, precisely at the time when we planned to drive, not sleep. Life will show whether we manage to deceive the whiteout or not, but now the shadows on the photos taken from a drone in the direction of movement in clear weather make it possible to understand better the pattern of ridges through which we are trying to crawl with minimal losses. Yesterday we drove onto a large frozen water opening spreading in meridional direction. When riding over a narrow strip of very thin nilas, the vehicle crossed it successfully, but the trailers jumped up almost a meter high due to hitting the ice, a bad experiment which is not planned to be repeated. Later, on the same frozen water opening, we broke through ice again, but at low speed, and pulled the vehicle out using a rope without risk of damage. In the conditions of poor visibility I used the ladder on the roof of the green vehicle several times, it’s faster than launching a drone, and the local choice of the route is easier when you see the hummocks with your own eyes, and their size is better conceivable. During free time I have read Savelyich's telegram channel; the author often uses the expression "we chopped", but we split rather than chop the ice with ice chisels, then, consequently, "we split"? It sounds beautiful, but in the context of current everyday life, somewhat ambiguous, in my opinion. But ambiguity is widespread nowadays, isn't it?

That's how the matters are. V. Ye.


24.04.2024 N86°05'22", W042°49'27". Odometer reading 4257, daily run 36, useful 25 km.

The water opening in front of which we stopped for the night yesterday was squeezed together by the morning time, and we just drove over it; it's a pity that this does not happen more often with the water openings. Since morning our shift was riding well enough; a couple of times the trailers broke through the ice when moving over water openings covered with fresh ice, but the vehicle pulled them out. Once the blue vehicle broke through the ice completely, together with the trailer, but the other vehicle pulled it out onto solid ice in a few minutes. After lunch a photo came from Christian Haas; using it as a guide, the second shift rushed in the direction of a large frozen water opening in hope to find an autobahn there, but the stinker betrayed the hopes, it turned out to be impossible either to reach it or drive on it, so after several hours of sufferings and active work with ice chisels aimed at destroying the pristine Arctic nature, we returned to our trail, closing the circle. Meanwhile, the weather is good, clear, NE wind.

That's how it is here.V. Ye.


23.04.2024 N86°19'04", W042°06'14". Odometer reading 4221, daily run 36, useful to the south 24 km.

The weather is clear, -20°C, almost windless, but there are hummocks in excessive quantity and water openings – frozen cracks covered with fresh snow. It's hard for the vehicles, but still we are driving, we moved 13 km southwards before lunch, having traveled 21 km. The ratio of traveled distance to useful distance is 1.6. I tried to keep the course 195-200 degrees. After lunch the yellow vehicle was leading, by the evening we covered about the same distance as before lunch, by 7 p.m. ran into a narrow but long water opening spreading in both directions, and stopped for repair – replacement of the load-bearing element of engine support cushion in the red vehicle. In our vehicle we tried to seal a crack in the tire which appeared either from driving with folds for too long, or just from big mileage. I doubt that it will help, but we do not want to replace it for a spare tire, because this tire is studded, and it would be preferable in Greenland on a glacier. Our spare tires are not studded. We go to sleep in hope that the water opening will be squeezed by the morning.

That's how the matters are. V. Ye.


22.04.2024 N86°32'07", W042°59'14". Odometer reading 4185, daily run 38, useful 19 km.

Whiteout keeps for the third or fourth day, slowing down the movement awfully. We entered the area of multiple breaks again, ladders, riding along the water openings in search of passages; my patience finally broke, and, after selecting a narrow place with flat shores, we sailed off. The weather was warm, almost windless – an ideal sailing drill for the beginners. All in all, it took an hour and a half, not counting extra 40 minutes to eat a piece of sausage and to wash down with a cup of tea, in the absence of something more substantial, the stress caused by plunging the vehicle nose into black icy water. Then we had to praise ourselves, and only then we moved further. In total, it took 2h 15 min. In general, not bad, considering that in the morning we drove along the water opening for almost three hours, wasting time and fuel. Today, Anton examined in detail the damages inflicted to his drone after yesterday's falling into a block of ice, and came to the deplorable conclusion that it cannot be repaired in the field. Hence, we have the last single operable drone belonging to our operator Maxim. If something happens to it, we have a ladder on the roof of the green vehicle, this structure definitely will not fail, but it is less effective as compared to drones. The weather forecast for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow is good, sunny, cloudy in some places. Hopefully, we will be able to accelerate our progress towards the bureaucratic problems of our entry into Greenland. Today we had a guest, a polar snow-bunting. The nearest land is more than three hundred km away, the wind blows from the south; perhaps the bird was deep in thought about something, and found itself far from the coast. Someone of our men gave some oatmeal to it, but I suspect that it has few chances to return to land. Ornithologists once told us that the navigation system of birds is glitching sometimes, and the birds fly into the wrong place. In 2019, in Antarctica, we met a skua gull at a distance of more than 1000 km from the coast, I think its fate was sad. But, not knowing the flight range of these birds, we will not bury them yet.

That's how the matters are. BE


21.04.2024 N86°43'11", W042°02'56". Odometer reading 4143, daily run 23, useful 16.5 km.

It is a day that does not stand out from the sequence of our workdays. Warmth, haze, slow driving, frequent flights; during one of them, one of the motors of the drone failed, and the quadcopter crashed down, regrettably, not into snow, but into an ice block. Revision and repair are postponed until tomorrow, and meanwhile we ask Maxim, our operator, to fly. After dinner visibility appeared, we drove further, but after half an hour the haze apppeared again, and we went to bed.

That's how the matters are. V. Ye.



20.04.2024 N87°01'21", W040°39'00". Odometer reading4096, daily run 74, useful 46 km.

Not bad at all, remembering that all day long we were heading SW, hoping to bypass the water openings that we dislike so much. At the end of the day – whiteout again. At the end of my shift, riding at a considerable speed, I bumped a wheel into an ice floe unnoticed under the snow, the blow was so strong that the steering knuckle arm was bent. We managed to adjust toe-in using the steering rods, so we can move further. What a shame, a gross driving mistake. By the end of the day we approached the 86th degree which is the zone of large hummock fields; once upon a time Chukov told about this zone, and we ourselves met it in the previous travels. Water openings are worse than hummocks, but it's not interesting to split endlessly the ice fences either. There is no alternative, I don't see much sense in staying here. In order not to drive permanently against the sun all day long, we set the time in the expedition with an offset 12 hours to astronomical time, but practice shows that the whiteout occurs more often exactly during our working day. I do not preclude switching back to astronomical time; good visibility is more important than convenient lighting. Or, we may move and live regardless of daily schedule: visibility appeared – immediately pick up and start. One can hold on like this for several days, but not for a long time.

That's how the matters are. V. Ye.


19.04.2024 N87°26'30", W032°35'33". Odometer reading 4021, daily run 47, useful 11 km.

The useful distance is so small because we deliberately headed not southwards, to wine and tobacco, but rather to the South-West and even to the West, escaping from the zone of multiple breaks in the ice of the Arctic Ocean. During the morning survey of the caravan, watchful Dubinin noticed emerging cracks in the towbars of the trailers; when crossing sharp ridges of hummocks, a vehicle passes over them without contact by the bottom, while the trailers have lesser longitudinal passability, and the towbars are often subjected to breaking loads. We included it in the plan of welding and repair works. We sleep not enough, especially Anton Ershov: since kindergarten he does not sleep during daytime and is not intending to violate this principle, while Dubinin and I, being unscrupulous persons, can easily spend our free time in the "trunk compartment", as we call the sleeping section. This mitigates greatly the hardships of long Arctic roaming. Today we had a flight accident – the drone performing advanced aerobatics failed to get out of the pitch-down, and at a speed of 120 km/h crashed into the ice shell of the Arctic Ocean, fortunately (for the drone) covered with snow. The man-power of the expedition were alarmed and mobilized for search of the aircraft, and it was found by Obikhod, of course. Advanced aerobatics are not included in the mandatory flight program of the travel, but Anton has an addiction akin to the drugs, he cannot refrain from spinning like a teetotum in the sky before and after a flight task. Now about another, also drone-related, addiction, inherent to all of us. Approaching a water opening, we launch the drone, see a potential crossing place a couple of kilometers away, move there, ascertain the impossibility to cross the water opening, launch the drone again, find a promising place again, etc. As a result, sometimes we spend more time than if we had just sailed across the water opening and drove further. The more we fly, the more we forget that we can sail, and it would be good to use this capability effectively.

In short, addictions and complexes are all around.

That's how we live. V. Ye.


18.04.2024 N87°26'29", W032°36'32". Odometer reading 3974, daily run 63, useful 23 km.

From the above figures it follows that the terrain is very difficult, but passable, while the main difficulty is represented by endless water openings which require a lot of time and fuel for bypassing. Fuel consumption is such that in the evening I phoned Emil in Iceland, requesting 800 liters of fuel to be delivered to Greenland land-fast ice near Cape Morris Jesup. According to Savelyich, the issue of Greenland enter permits has moved from a dead point in a positive direction. The left middle spring in our vehicle has broken, the replacement took 30 minutes. Welding electrodes are running out, most of them are spent for repairing the wheel rims. Before going to bed, we decided to fly over a water opening; the honor of overcoming it the previous shift has granted to us in a friendly way, as a favor. We flew off in hope that it would begin to close, but instead it has moved apart. Perhaps, other people would be upset, but we already got used to it, so, tomorrow we will just do our job.

Such are our usual workdays here. V.Ye.


17.04.2024 N87°45'13", W031°08'23". Odometer reading 3911, daily run 43, useful 21 km. The situation with moving southwards is gradually
getting more strained.

Everything was fine in the morning, then water openings again, two or three of them were large, along one of them we had to drive about 10 km until it deigned to let us drive further southwards. Driving 10 km often means scrambling through endless ridges of transverse hummocks interspersed with second-order cracks and breaks. The drones flew a lot in search for a better fate, then Anton's charger burned out, and if he doesn't manage to fix it, then only Max will have to fly, and we will become dependent on the single drone. At 11.30 a.m. a tinkling sound appeared in the engine, I turned it off immediately, we stopped and began to investigate. Pretty soon we found the cause: a piece of a heating element broke off from a glow plug. At first, there were lazybones thoughts on how to remove the fragment spending little efforts, then common sense prevailed over laziness, and it was decided to remove the engine head, clean everything thoroughly, in short – do everything properly. Alexey Dubinin and Anton Ershov completed this work in six hours. The engine was saved. Once again, we rejoiced due to central-engine layout of the vehicle, allowing even complicated repair to be performed inside the vehicle in warmth, with a working stove, while outside it is not hot at all and an invigorating breeze is blowing. In the absence of a torque wrench, the tightening torque of the block head bolts was checked using a steelyard balance begged from the doctor against receipt. He is right in some aspect, the Russian people are great and simple at the same time; the doctor often found foodstuffs lying in barrels under the weight of spare parts, which turned valuable products into small crumbs during bumpy ride. Such actions have undermined his trust in the working class of the expedition, but he holds on, does not show how hard for him is dealing with us. In short, he is a mighty personality.

That’s how the matters are. V.Ye.


16.04.2024 N87°56'33", W034°50'17". Odometer reading 3868, daily run 62, useful 37 km.

The day is an ordinary one, the alarm clock was set at 4.00, we got up with difficulty at 4.20, because the day before we went to bed at midnight. Whiteout was present since morning, then it improved a little, but water openings and endless small breaks spoiled our blood and nerves until lunch. After lunch it got better, after 5 p.m. the terrain was quite good, but visibility dropped again. There are problems with coming to Greenland – our people on the mainland either failed to meet the deadline for submitting documents, or some documents were missing, and we got a refuse for visiting this island. Now the application for entry will be submitted anew, because the legislation does not stipulate any appeals. We have two to three weeks for consideration of the application until we get to the Greenland land-fast ice at our snail's pace. In principle, I do not object to spending some time in a Greenland-Danish prison for violation of the migration regime, experiencing the humanism of European punishment system, even if it is not as merciful as the one in our human-loving Homeland. The situation with the temporary worker visas for mechanics is also vague. But ... anyway we have no alternative to driving southwards, which is what we are doing in the time free from sad, and not very sad, thoughts.

That’s how the matters are. V.Ye.


15.04.2024 N88°16'30", W030°54'26". Odometer reading 3806, daily run 41, useful 13 km. A heavy day.

4 a.m. The green vehicle. The inhabitants, slightly crazy due to lack of sleep, discuss over coffee the difference in the concepts of "humility" and "obedience". The opinions differ, an hour and a half before departure on the line passed indecently quickly, as always. A good example: accepting some or other weather and ice conditions in our travel – is it humility or obedience? And "fatalism", what is it and how does it relate to the previous terms? So, with an unfinished dispute, we set off on the route. Planning for the next day's kilometrage has vanished from the agenda of our evening briefings, and it finally became clear to everyone that you just have to be "calm and stubborn" and work steadily, without comparing today's results with the achievements of other days.

So, slowly we become polar explorers, we have come to the understanding: who you are here and what is your scale in this great icy desert, in which, by the way, we are the only humans. The nearest people are not far, just 750-800 km away. I recall how at Monday's zoom conferences the issues of securing our group were discussed in a businesslike manner, whether Barneo would operate, from which latitude certain services of Greenland, Canada or Russia would rescue us if necessary. And now - "there's only taiga all around, only taiga, and we're in the middle." It was a song. A romantic song. Beauty, in general.

That’s how the matters are. V.Ye.


14.04.2024 N88°23'12", W030°44'52". Odometer reading 3765, daily run 78, useful 50 km.

The weather is like in spring; we slept with the working stove in order to melt water for breakfast during the night, it was hot. We sleep "tops to tails"; closer to morning I found someone's bare feet near my face, as further investigation showed, they were Ershov's feet. After coffee and oatmeal, simple driving followed, aggravated by crossings on ladders at the limit of their length, so that we even inserted extension bars. At my demand, only the drivers and Safonov remained in the vehicles; Safonov prefers a terrible death in the icy abyss to getting up before 11 a.m. The principles, you know… Worthy of respect. The man is ready to struggle for something, even at the cost of his own life. We are still in the dead zone – no bears, no seals with squareflippers, these are curious, they like to watch who is playing tricks at the floor above. We haven't seen even a single trace. We are in the Canadian–Greenland zone, everything is as proper as can be, nature is protected, but still there is no one around. In the Russian sector, on the contrary, just watch out to guard your barrels with foodstuff from the bears, seemingly, there is some kind of magnetism in our mess… Where did they all go? It's not interesting to go to Israel now; in general, a difficult question.

That’s how the mysterious matters are here. V.Ye.


13.04.2024 N88°50'04", W020°30'59". Odometer reading 3687, daily run 58, useful southwards 34 km.

We departed for the line at six a.m., the day before we went to bed late at night, drove until 9 p.m., then dinner, then replacing the dust caps on the steering rack instead of those that broke at the beginning of the travel at frost below -40°C. We slept hardly more than 4 hours, the folks are tired and demanded to return to the 12-hour working day, because this is only the time of moving, evening maintenance and repair is not included in this time. Today was a creative day in the sense of overcoming the water openings, we are gradually getting impudent and start driving on the thinner ice; if the ice can be penetrated with just two strokes of an ice chisel, we drive on. A couple of times the wave on the ice was quite severe, we swayed like in a considerable earthquake. A couple of times my trailers broke through the ice, they are heavy; at lunchtime we refueled, some two hundred liters of fuel were drained from our rear trailer (only the green vehicle tows two trailers, the others - only one each), it became a little easier. We are accumulating the useful experience, my heart warns me of eventual meeting with serious water, and adequate understanding of the capabilities of the vehicles and the ice can save us time. By the evening (according to our time count) it warmed up to -20°C, whiteout immediately arose, visibility is bad, the speed of movement and searching for passages in the "fences" drops immediately. The doctor started distributing Gala-Gala foodstuffs from Russia, they are quite good. I can't say that about their price, even if I want to.

That’s how the matters are. V.Ye.


12.04.2024 N89°08'15", W007°07'30". Odometer reading 3629, daily run 58, useful 37 km.

Multiple ice breaks, rather extensive areas of broken ice – this is the beginning, almost traditional, of recent time. Closer to noon the heavy trailers fell into water, the front trailer was pulled out by the vehicle, while the front attachment of the torque arm broke on the left side of the second trailer. Repair work, welding for an hour and a half, combined with lunch. We drove until nine in the evening, at the end of the day the trailer of the yellow vehicle also broke the ice. They are heavy, filled to the brim with fuel and grub, so we need to be more attentive to our tails. The doctor started distributing the foodstuff that had arrived from Russia-Barneo, that is - Russian, or at least friendly, food. We felt it immediately: the mustard is the true mustard, lard ("salo") that came from bat’ka (i.e. from Belorussia), rye biscuits made from Borodinsky bread, everyone became more cheerful, except Andrew Ivanovich, he does not feel elation hearing the word "borsch". In general, the life of the Canadian polar explorer from sunny Los Angeles is not easy in the company of harsh Siberian, Moscow and other men. While I am writing the diary, outside the window something made of iron is being forged; that is, Alexey Dubinin, a completely restless man, replaces the steering rod end boots on our vehicle for the ones sent to us by Alexey Shkrabkin from Moscow via Barneo. Eventual encounters with water are not excluded, so all the seals should be kept in order as much as possible.

That’s how the matters are. V.Ye.


11.04.2024 N89°28'02", E007°35'04". Odometer reading 3571, daily run 41, useful distance 22.2 km. Not much.

The previous day the mechanics spent a long time messing with refueling, then installing the gearbox in the green vehicle, only at the end of the night they went to bed. We departed at nine a.m., stopped for the night, as usual, at seven a.m. The main news came from Krasnoyarsk: Barneo is winding up the operation, the bureaucracy did not allow completing the program, the reason is unknown to us. It is good that we have got our cargo and fuel before this moment, we sympathize with our colleagues at high latitudes, such a lot of work has been done to prepare the camp on the ice, the runway has been remade three times, and everything is for nothing, and shame in regard of the tourists. We can imagine. Our Zurab with the cargo of spare parts and various small things flew to Moscow-Tbilisi, and hopes to meet us in the north of Greenland. And our caravan, after three days of oppressive waiting, is gaining pace again, we plan to extend our working day by a couple of hours in order to make up for the uselessly lost time. Christian Haas, the glaciologist, insistently recommends us to move keeping west of the 40th meridian. There are much more breaks and water openings to the east of this meridian.

That’s how the matters are. V. Ye.


10.04.2024 N89°40'00", W38°58'16". odometer reading 3530 km. We are standing on an ice floe, but the drift has already dragged us
for almost forty km towards Norway.

We replaced the radiator in the green vehicle for the old one, which served us in many travels, but had been replaced for a multi-row version before Antarctica trip because of heavy load and high altitude. The helicopter will arrive at six p.m., Krasnoyarsk time, while we have switched over to Magadan time. Familiar persons have arrived: Roman, Alexey. Greetings from E.I. Bakalov and Dima Glagolev. After unloading we exchanged valuable gifts: we presented the men from Barneo an empty soft fuel bag, and they gave us a bottle of bilberry tincture from the Krasnoyarsk taiga. We filled up more than 2500 liters of diesel fuel, basically it should be enough to reach the Nord station in the north of Greenland. By mistake, they intended to give us 300 liters of "kalosha" grade gasoline, but recollected in due time that this cargo was not for us, otherwise the skiers of the "ultimate degree" would have been left without fuel for primus stoves. We installed the gearbox in the rear axle, now our vehicle is an off-roader again. The kind people from Barneo also shared engine oil and antifreeze with us, so now we can get along, and though something is missing, we can drive further.

That’s how the matters are. V. Ye.


09.04.2024 N89°45'52", W38°36'00". Odometer reading 3519 km, but this is because we are dragged by drift in the direction of Murmansk.
In two days we moved away from the pole by 26 km.

The news from the mainland again is not of the best sort - the flight is delayed from 11.00 to 17.00, Krasnoyarsk time zone. We immediately guessed: it is a delay rather than a cancellation, hence, the cause is the weather either in Khatanga or on Barneo. As scientific investigation has shown, neither the first nor the second was true. Some papers have been drawn up incorrectly, and the flight was not released. One can only guess how much paper may be spent during six hours of delay. Zurab has received back our cargo from Khatanga, because for unknown reasons it is impossible to load it in Khatanga, and he will try to do so in Krasnoyarsk. The wind has strengthened, but within reasonable limits, it is still too early to consider a walk to the toilet as a real feat. The mechanics have repaired everything they could in the vehicles. The fuel from the barrels and soft "blisters" was drained completely, so to say, to the drop, it turned out to be about 20 liters per vehicle. The daily consumption per one vehicle for heating and two or three starts of the engine to recharge the batteries is about 6-8 liters, so for two days we can live decently, and after that we'll have to contrive something. But - no one promised that it would be easy. We hope that within a few days the Greenlandic authorities will take a crucial decision - either to allow us to drive through the Greenland National Park territory, or send us eastwards along the northern coast to the Nord military-scientific station where we will be checked for the presence of Greenland entry visas. Then we can continue our travel southwards. These are our plans, but presently we are sitting in the vehicles, waiting for the helicopter with fuel and Zurab.

That’s how the matters are. V. Ye.