Usual poor visibilty last year on Hardangervidda
Hardangervidda is europe’s largest high mountain plateau, situated in Norway between Oslo and Bergen, at around 60 degrees north, the average altitude of the plateau is some 1400m. For some 8 months of the year this is a barren, white wilderness covered in snow.For the rest of the time tundra appears but not a tree is in sight until descending below 1000m into one of the valleys. With almost no vegetation, the high altitude and strong wind this place is forboding and has long been used as a simulation of the polar environment by great polar travellers such as Roald Amundsen who almost died here in the late 19th century when he was nearly buried alive in a snow hole during a blizzard….
Fear on the tundra
In March 2014 I travelled to the Kola Peninsula in the far north of European Russia. The logistics of day 1 were interesting as it involved leaving Prague at 12.30pm, flying to St Petersburg before arriving in Murmansk at 2.30am. I repacked my bag and managed to lie down on bench for 45mins before I went outsode to get the bus to the city centre. There I sourced some petrol for my stove whcih wasn’t easy as I had to ask a motorist to buy it for me as 5litres is the minimum buy and I just wanted 800ml! Then I took a bus, 2 hours to Olenegorsk, followed by a smaller bus to Revda one of the final settlements before the tundra wilderness extends east, arriving there at 12.30pm. After a short walk around and a visit to the local shop I met a local man with whom I spoke in Russian for several minutes.Hhe was surprised that i wanted to go alone to Seydozero lake and he gave me a good tip which was to take a taxi to the factory marking the start of the trailhead. It cost only 100rubles and was a good idea for the walk was uphill on a boring asphalt road for 8km….
Tasersiaq Lake, expedition goal
The expedition Greenland-Tasersiaq 2014 was the brainchild of Premek Morgan, a climber and trekker from the Czech Republic. Quite simply we would attmept to go where people hadn’t trodden for around 100 years since the Inuit abandoned this area of the hinterland for summer hunting….
preparing the "swimming pool"
In 2011 I met 2 men from Tyumen, Andrey and Andrey. It sounds like the start of a tongue twister but its the start of a short story about a journey to the first city in Siberia, namely Tyumen and the ensuing endurance winter swimming that took place including a new world record for one of the sports leading lights and a personal record for myself.
After we swam together in Avacha bay, Kamchatka, the two Andrey’s were surprised and pleased to learn that I had heard of Tyumen. All I really knew was that it had received a recent boom due to the energy industry.
When the invitation came to attend a winter swimming event there in December of that year I reluctantly but quite rightly turned it down due to personal reasons. Luckily i got a second bite at the cherry and when I met the 2 Andreys again in 2013 they were keen to ask me once more whether i would go to Tyumen.
swimming the last 300m together with flags (photo: Stacey Mueller, Wales,AK)
After what seems like an eternity we finally landed at the native village of Wales, the most western point of the United States of America after we started swimming from Cape Dezhnev, the most eastern point of Russia
The swim took 6 days and the organisation took far, far longer….
Svalbard reindeer "grazing" on cladonia moss
For the last few years I had been thinking more about making a trip to the arctic, combining winter swimming with traditional polar travel. This went from fanciful idea to reality, mainly as I realized that I had a lot of the necessary skills for such a trip, namely tolerance to cold, endurance and a general indifference to hardship both emotional and physical. (after dealing with a murder the former becomes easier)….