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Human power circumnavigation wrap-up: Dimitri Kieffer and Karl Busby in Far Eastern Russia

Posted: Mar 09, 2011 07:41 pm EST

(By Correne Coetzer) During February and March 2006 and April 2007 Dimitri Kieffer and Karl Busby travelled together from Nome, Alaska, to Anguema in Russia. In the process they crossed the frozen Bering Strait on foot. Both men are currently back in Russia to resume their human power around-the-world treks.

Today ExplorersWeb received an email from Dimitri over Contact 5 saying that since March 6 when he left Paren, his 2011 start point, he has covered 51 km in 30 hours (18.5 km hours moving). He is sledge-hauling and named his red sled, Omsukchan Express. He added the he and his sled are both obviously quite happy about their progress.

He also said to ExplorersWeb his back is a bit sore and his feet a bit bruised though but hopefully soon enough they will get used to be pulling a sled again after an 8 months lapsus... [Ed note: Dimitri had a big back operation last year.]

Dimitri Kieffer

On February 2 he landed in Moscow and it took him 30 days to get to his start point in Paren, Kamchatka Koryak Okrug; as he had somewhat predicted, he writes in his blog.

Dimitri left the town of Evensk on the morning of Feb. 27 where he had stayed quite a while before he could get transport to Paren. From Evensk he was able to cover the first 105 km while travelling 12 hours in the back of the cargo space of a kamaz truck, and the next 160 km to Vernhiy Paren in 50 hrs in a crowded open sled being pulled by a Soviet-era mighty tractor on tracks.

In Vernhiy Paren, Dimitri writes, the main electric generator burned down last December leaving its inhabitants without electricity during these harder winter months. There he was looking for transport for the last 50 km. The local drunk offered to take him with a reindeer sled in exchange for 2 bottles of vodka, but he took up an offer with a Soviet-era Buran snowmobile. Therefore the last 50 km was covered in 4.5 hrs holding on to a sled/trailer being pulled by this Soviet-era Buran snowmobile, facing wet falling snow, wind and white-outs.

Check Dimitris blog where he gives much more detail of this eventful journey to Paren and his colorful fellow passengers.

In Paren (South Eastern Russia) he has spent time repairing his beaten up sled and skis. Indeed, taking into consideration how complicated it would have been to ship over a new sled and new skis, I opted this winter to get spare pieces instead and ensure the best repairs I could upon landing in Paren. I have placed new runners on my sled, (which by the way, I have now wishfully renamed "The Omsukchan Express"...) and I have also fixed my dual binding system for my skis.

Dimitri spent quite an amount of time sorting and organizing his gear, food and fuel. He realized that between what he left in storage in Paren last May and some of the new and improved gear he brought this time, he has more than he should be carrying, therefore, he tried to streamline.

Dimitri left the Russian state, Kamchatka and entered Magadanskaya Oblast; the third Russian state that I am able to enter by foot! And trust me, in Far Eastern Russia, none of them are small!

Day 3 - Tuesday March 8, 2011
Location: Vernhiy Paren, Magadanskaya Oblast
N62°39.142; E162°22.768

Karl Busby

On May 18 2008, Karl ended the previous section of his human power journey around the world in Bilibino, Chukotka (North Eastern Russia), where he is heading to now.

On February 16, Karl arrived in Nome, Alaska and flew to Anadyr in Russia. On March 1 he wrote from Anadyr that the first flight to Bilibino failed and he was not sure when the next option would be. He was looking into taking a mail cargo flight this week because the next civil flight is only on March 15.

Everything is hard work here, but I have help this time around so it is not as bad as it has been....bit touch and go. The temperature that day was -11°C to -15°C with crazy heavy wind storms.

The next day he reported that he and his support team was told that they could use a medical flight to Bilibino, but while on route, they got a call telling them there was not the room they had been told, so they could not fly. Its a barmy -1°C, so warm its very strange! he added.

Today Karl reported on Facebook that he is leaving Bilibino on foot tomorrow, 9 supply bags loaded onto a truck on route to 6 waypoints covering 1,338km. The weather good, all done, internet options very poor, running out, could be the last for a while, see you all in May...moving...

His route according to his website is from Bilibino, Chukotka, to Ust-Nera.

Dimitri Kieffer was born in France and moved to the USA when he was 17. He runs ultra-marathons and participates in adventure races. Since 2005, Dimitri has continued to evolve, transferring from adventure racing to full blown expeditions, like this Circumnavigation around the Globe with only using human power.

The circumnavigation started on February 26, 2005 at Knik Lake, near Anchorage, Alaska. Dimitri plans to complete the entire Nexus Expedition by 2016.

Stages already completed:

First Section: Knik Lake (near Anchorage, Alaska) - Nome (Alaska)
Feb April 2005, 37 days, 1100 miles 1770 kilometers
Completed by foot (trekking & snowshoeing) the Iditarod Trail Invitational race

Second Section: Nome (Alaska) Wales (Alaska)
Feb 2006, 9 days, 115 miles 185 kilometers
Completed by foot (Trekking & Back Country Skiing)
(with Goliath Expedition - Karl Bushby)

Third Section: Nome (Alaska) Uelen (Russia) Bering Strait Crossing
March 17-31 2006, 14 days, 5 days where swimming was required
200 miles 322 kilometers
Completed by foot (trekking & back country skiing) & swimming
(with Goliath Expedition - Karl Bushby)

Fourth section: Uelen to Egvekinot (Chukotka, Russia)
April 12- May 16 2007, 34 days, 425 miles 684 kilometers
Completed by foot (Back Country Skiing and only trekking after Vastoshisno)
Uelen - Anguema (with Goliath Expedition - Karl Bushby)
Anguema - Uelen (solo)

Fifth section:
Egvekinot to Vayegi (Chukotka, Russia)
April 15 - June 7, 2008
exact amount of trekking days still being tabulated
Approximately 600 miles / 965 km
exact number of miles still being tabulated.

Completed on foot (back country skiing, trekking with a backpack and pulling the sled simultaneously, swimming and using the sled as kayak while going down rivers).

Sixth section:
Vayegi (Chukotka, Russia) - Paren (Kamchatka, Russia)
March 11 - May 13 2010
707 km completed, 63 days.

Location May 17, 2010:
N 62° 25.040'; E 163° 05.160'
Paren, Northwestern Kamchatka
Total kilometers covered Spring 2010: 707.2 km
Manily to Paren 199.4 km

In March 2010, Dimitri return to the village of Vayegi and continued by foot and skis while pulling a sled moving Southwest towards Kamchatka. He completed the first month in company of Yakut trekker Nyurgun Efremov who stopped in the village of Slautnoye, Kamchatka.

From there on, Dimitri completed the next 200 km in company of three beautiful erring dogs and reached Kamenskoye. After having left the 3 canines in good company, he continued solo, mostly following the coastline where he could still find barely enough ice to slide his sled on, swimming and backpacking along the way and was finally able to reach the remote Koryak fishing village of Paren.

Dimitri was also enthused to be able to meet and stay for a few days along the way with two different "brigades" of reindeer herders, a Chukchi one and a Koryak one, where he was able to learn and appreciate their nomadic culture.

Seventh section:
Paren (Kamchatka, Russia) - Omsukchan in Magadanskaya Oblast.
Dimitri is returning in Kamchatka in February 2011 to continue trekking and skiing 423 miles (680 km) from Paren in Kamchtaka Koryak Okrug to Omsukchan in Magadanskaya Oblast. He plans to cover this section by skis and snowshoes, while pulling a sled on tundra, considering the absence of roads in this remote part of the world. His route should take him from Paren to Omsukchan via Verniy Paren, Chaibura, Ghiziga, Evensk, Tavatum and Merenga.

Dimitri: At that point, I will have completed and therefore connected by human power, what I like to call the "missing link" between Omsukchan, Russia and Anchorage, Alaska, USA. This "missing link" is indeed where no connecting paved roads exist between the European and Asian continents and the American continents.

Once upon reaching Omsukchan, he will switch to biking and continue Westbound towards Europe, connecting the European, Asian and American continents. He will be able to join the
M56 Kolyma Highway also known as the infamous "road of bones".

Dimitri plans to have completed the entire expedition by 2016, upon reaching Knik Lake, after having circumnavigated the globe via human power.

Dimitri Kieffers expedition videos.

Dimitri Kieffer is blogging over CONTACT 5

British Karl Bushby, an ex-paratrooper, born in 1969, has already walked through South, Central and North America, Alaska, across the Bearing Strait and through a part of North-eastern Russia where he stopped on May 18, 2008 at Bilibino, Chukotka.

#Polar #Trek

Karl Bushbys gear
courtesy Karl Bushby
courtesy Karl Bushby
courtesy Karl Bushby
"Locals have also taught me how to recognize animal prints in the snow, deter and scare threatening bears away, how to smoke and preserve fishes, how to pluck and prepare a freshly killed goose or duck, how to make local Russian dishes and bread, etc, etc"
courtesy Dimitri Kieffer (sent over Contact5), SOURCE
And Spring 2011 Russia route map, from Bilibino, Chukotka, to Ust-Nera.
courtesy Karl Bushby