Arctic 2020: The Roundup So Far

Arctic
Photo: Mike Stevenson

While it’s early for Canadian Arctic expeditions — the sun still hangs low in the sky, giving light but no heat — in more temperate Siberia (!), temperatures hover around -17C, and the Lake Baikal crossings have begun. Elsewhere, in Iceland and Lapland, sledding expeditions are also underway.

Lake Baikal Crossings

Lukasz Rybicki from Poland decided to abandon his attempt at a speed record on February 22 at the Island of Olhon, after 300km and six days. He suffered a few injuries and fell into the water on February 21, soaking much of his kit. “It’s important to remember that this is nature, and Lake Baikal is ruled by its laws,” he said ruefully. He previously attempted a team crossing of Baikal in 2017, but they also had to withdraw after 350km.

Lukasz Rybicki. Photo: Lukasz Rybicki

Carlos Garcia (Spain) set off on February 22 and has made it to Goloustnoye, 144km from his start at Kultuk. Mostly, he’s averaged an impressive 50km day, though this slowed to 44km on February 24 because of strong winds. He has said that while he considered attempting a speed record on his first attempt of crossing Baikal, the potential for not finishing increases when you push hard to maximize speed. So despite his strong pace, he prefers “to enjoy Baikal and live day to day”.

On his second day, he passed the mouth of the Angara River and is now making his way through Kadilnaya.

Carlos Garcia on Lake Baikal. Photo: Carlos Garcia

Mike Stevenson (GBR) set off from Kultuk on February 24 on his first solo crossing attempt, with a 63kg pulk. This marks Stevenson’s third trip to Baikal. In 2018, he and two companions broke the speed record for crossing the lake. In 2019, he set out with Scott Gilmour but was forced to withdraw on day six of the expedition. On the first day of his crossing this year, he had to battle a headwind but still covered 45.5km in 10 hours.

Mike Stevenson finalizes his kit. Photo: Mike Stevenson

Another Brit is also tackling a solo crossing of Lake Baikal; James Redden began on February 16 and reached the halfway point in on February 22. The ex-military man says that pulling the sled hasn’t been difficult so far; in fact, he has been able to jog for short distances over the often bare ice. On his second day, he traveled 54km but has said that he would like to push this out to 70km a day as the journey continues. He is trying to average 10+ hour days on the lake.

In early March, Roland Banas (France), Oli France (GBR) and Charlie Smith (GBR) will all set off from Kultuk on solo south-north crossings.

1000km Ski Across Lapland

As we reported, Switzerland’s Rachel Bandieri has begun her 1,000km ski through Finnish Lapland. Setting off from Rovaniemi on February 24, she had a “very long first day with some very good sections and others….more like hell!” She spent her first night in Kota, then followed a forest track on her second day which has slowed her pace.

Bandieri in training. Photo: Rachel Bandieri

Crossing Iceland in Winter

On January 27, Poland’s Lukasz Supergan set off from Dalatangi Cape on an east-to-west crossing of Iceland. Pulling a 60kg sled, and replenishing his supplies periodically, he will ski to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in five to six weeks.

On February 24, after 29 days, he completed the Icelandic uplands part of his expedition, reaching Húsafell after 600km. He has now embarked on the last stretch to Borgarnes, before his final destination on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Photo: Lukasz Supergan

About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Aspiring sports and travel journalist based in the UK.

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