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Dimitri Kieffer update: Vayegi start, to waking up among 2500 reindeers

Posted: Mar 31, 2010 01:55 pm EDT

World circumnavigator Dimitri Kieffer and his Russian teammate for this Russian section, Nyurgen Efremov, started off on March 13 from near Vayegi where Dimitri stopped in 2008.

They sledge-hauled over mountain passes, along frozen rivers, through snow storms, dealing with damaged feet and broken bindings to eventually stop in the middle of 2500 reindeers.

Leaving Anadyr

Dimitri and Nyurgen waited in Anadyr for 16 days before they could leave for Vayegi to start the expedition. After making many plans to get to Vayegi the two, plus their 270 kg of gear, got on a plane to Markova. Dimirti said, In the end, being able to travel by plane was by far the fastest, cheapest and safest way to travel.

In Markova friends of Dimitri arranged a 7-tun Ural truck to take their food and gear to Vayegi. The 80 km trip took 5 hours and 15 minutes said Dimitri. He had a lot of respect for the drivers as [they] progressed through deep crevasses / tracks made in the snow by wezdehods / tanks.

Start point correction

Dimitri said he has previously stated that his last position was N64째 16.659; E171째 14.107 but in fact this was where I spent my last night on Dec 6th, however, on Dec 7th, as I recalled and recently found out on my GPS, I was able to proceed a few final miles towards Vayegi to N64째 16.659; E171째 14.107 before calling it off with after my harness broke!

Vayegi to starting point, and back

In Vayegi, we were able to meet Alexei, an interesting and eccentric bushman or should I say "tundraman" who was kind enough to take us to our starting point, explained Dimitri.

It took him 1 hour to transport us, our 2 sleds and a light load (minimum gear + 3 days worth of food and fuel) on his powerful yamaha snowmobile and trailer, down the frozen Mayn River to our start.

We decided to do this section with "minimal" weight, because we knew we will be passing via Vayegi after 16kms, taking enough supplies though in case if we were caught in a storm or something serious went wrong!

It took them 7 hours to complete the sledge-hauling along the Mayn River before they arrived back in Vegagi on foot.

Vayegi to Brigade #6

After an epic time on the trail, going over a few steep and challenging mountain passes with a heavy sled, waiting through three heavy snow storms with temperatures varying from 30째C to an alarming melting peak at +2째C right before one of the storm, as well as dealing with some damaged feet and a broken ski binding that needed a few repairs, Dimitri said he was ecstatic to find Brigade #6.

Brigade #6, explained Dimitri, composed of 2500 reindeers, a few guarding dogs, 7 Chuvanyest men, 2 Chuvanka women and 2 cute little boys, Mishka and Anton, bundled in reindeer fur. They were located 100+ km from the nearest village.

Dimitri arrived there one day ahead of Nyurgun with whom he had been separated as the result of a snowstorm. The reindeer people, who are relying on reindeer sleds for transport, said that it was unheard that someone arrived at them by foot.

Dimitri said they spent valuable time with the reindeer shepherds, eating more reindeer than you can fathom, sleeping in a Kukul reindeer bag, under a beautifully constructed large tent made of reindeer hides heated by a nice warm stove, and floored with pine tree branches and more warm reindeer fur. The tent, tipee like, was lighten up at night by one single lamp oil.

Dimitri described the reindeer shepherds as fascinating, intriguing and inviting characters. Read more on his website in the links section.


Dimitri reported that he had crossed Chukotka diagonally. When he leaves from Brigade #6 at the Southwestern corner of Chukotka he will be hauling his sled on for the next 100+ km towards Slautnoye and the Western panhandle of Kamchatka.


Day 15th, Saturday March 27th 2010
Brigade #6, Southwestern corner of Chukotka
Location: N 63째 22.140'; E 170째 09.783'
Total: 138kms, 122 kms since Vayegi

Dimitri Kieffer was born in France and moved to the USA when he was 17. He runs ultra-marathons and participate 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 complete the entire expedition by 2016.

Stages already completed in Dimitris Nexus Expeditions around the globe using human power:

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
Approximatively 600 miles / 965 kms
exact amount of miles still being tabulated.

Completed by foot (Back Country Skiing, trekking with a backpack and pulling the sled simultaneously, swimming, using the sled as kayak while going down rivers).

Sixth section: Vayegi to Omsukchan (Russia)
With Russian, Nyurgen Efremov,
March May 2010. Total expected mileage for the route: 660 miles (1060 km). Trekking and skiing.

He plans to cover this section by skis and on foot, while pulling a sled, considering the absence of roads in the Chukotkan tundra. Once upon reaching Omsukchan, he will switch to biking and continue Westbound towards Europe, connecting the European, Asian and American continents.

Dimitri Kieffer is blogging over Contact5.

#Polar #Trek

The 80 km trip in the Ural truck to Vayegi took 5 hours and 15 minutes said Dimitri. He had a lot of respect for the drivers as [they] progressed through deep crevasses / tracks made in the snow by wezdehods / tanks. Image sent over Contact5 (click to enlarge)
courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE
Dimitri: Baitushka Leonid (left) was in deed the man who helped Karl Bushby and I, when we were kept in the village of Lavrentiya for 25 days in April 2006, waiting for our first trial after having crossed the Bering Strait and being questioned by the local authorities. At the time, he was able to provide to us a free abode for our entire "city arrest" time in Lavrentiya. Image sent over Contact5 (click to enlarge)
courtesy Dimitri Kieffer, SOURCE