March 03, 2010: 141st short message (01:46 a.m. CET)
7 a.m. The storm slowed down for awhile. This gave us the chance to repair the fan of F2 in five hours. We have to further protect F2 with snow and built a protection for the “restroom” (igloo style). All of it to better the conditions in which we have to refuel the tanks, even though it is still tough. We were able to improve the state of our position.
A continuation is still not possible, yet. The sight is less than ten meters.
The team is doing well, the atmosphere is good, the Russian-German friendship very strong, excellent companionship. Engines are working. Position remains unchanged.
March 05, 2010: 142nd short message (08:46 p.m. CET)
6 a.m. After the third night, on the third day, the storm finally slowed down. Less snow is in the air. The sight is about 50-60 m.
We will start to dig out the cars and defrost the axles and gear box with the Webasto hot-air jet (the oil froze; we cannot start driving like that). It will take approximately eight hours. Then – if the weather didn’t change by then – we will try to continue our journey.
March 06, 2010: 143rd short message (01:29 a.m. CET)
11 a.m. We dug F1 out and are now trying to make a track. The burner-lamp doesn’t work. Even the Webasto jet that we are trying to point at the axles gets blown away by the storm. Thus we cannot heat the oil up – we have to try it like this.
The sight remained at about 50 meters. Hopefully we will be able to “break out”.
2 p.m. We started.
March 06, 2010: 144th short message (05:46 a.m. CET)
The break-out succeeded. We fight our way meter for meter. Just now we managed two difficult ice passages and thus reached a headland.
Current position: N 65°13.176 / W 172°12.393
March 06, 2010: 145th short message (09:39 a.m. CET)
8.30 p.m. Just now we took a break after a difficult inclined drive and a rise with many snow drifts from the shore all the way to the seafront. We drank some warm coffee and ate something.
Outside is a raging storm again and we also turn up. But this time we turn up the music. After the last few days in imprisonment and today’s break-out, we are just happy for once. We turn up the music as far as it will go and send each other one song after another via radio.
Thanks to Christopher, Rudi has a mere endless supply of songs of all kinds. And I have enough songs on the hard drive of F1 to create a hit parade. Oh well, once in a while even we need that.
Anyway, it’s awesome that we are no longer stuck in the snowstorm. Let’s see if we can manage the pass that’s ahead of us.
Three kilometers ago we noticed during a stop that F2’s upper axle bearing in the front swerves. The long-arm dangles. Oh well, as usual we use some belts and copper wire, the strength of two men, some luck, a protection against the wind, one hour, and the thing is almost welded – except that it’s only “welded” with cloth. Let’s see how long that will last.
The team is doing well. Our current position: N 65°15.710 / W 172°12.030
March 06, 2010: 146th short message (01:15 p.m. CET)
11 p.m. Awesome: During snow flurries, wind, in the middle of the night and sometimes no sight at all, we reached the pass at N 65°17.119 / W 172°13.385
March 06, 2010: 147th short message (11:56 p.m. CET)
We will stop now to get some sleep.
Current position: N 65°20.164 / W 172°12.642
March 07, 2010: 148th short message (01:33 a.m. CET)
9 a.m. The weather is better. We can see around 60-80 m, less wind, less snow.
Now, after some hours of sleep, we will continue.
Our position: N 65°20.891 / W 172°12.383
We just met two hunters with a russian snow mobile, who were pulling a hunting boat made from walrus skins. Awesome, but at the same time it’s crazy that they can actually go in the water with this. The person using it must be very light; the paddles are hardly 10 cm wide. Interesting how they also want to pull seals in there.
12.30 p.m. We are approaching Lorino. Severe snow drifts complicate advancement. Again and again we have to uncouple the F1 trailer, make a track with F1 and sand sheets, load everything, attach the trailer, and continue.
Current position: N 65°23.002 / W 172°11.084
March 07, 2010: 149th short message (05:01 a.m. CET)
At N 65°24.934 / W 172°09.521, we just arrived at a refuge for fishermen. There we met two hunting parties from Lorina who are hunting seals. Warm welcome. Now we have about another 25 km to Lorino. We take a short break, then we have to refuel and then we will fight our way again.
March 07, 2010: 150th short message (07:26 a.m. CET)
6 p.m. We arrived at a spiritual place of the Chukots. Our position is N 65°27.359 / W 172°06.597. At this place on the narrow headland, bones of whales are sticking up into the air for meters.
They were erected here as a spiritual memorial. Sacrifices are made here, as Victor explains to me. That’s what we do. As a representative for all of us, Victor goes to the bones with good food – our favorite chocolate, bread, etc. – and gives it to the gods as appeasement. We will see if it helps. When Victor climbs back into the car and sits for a moment, his knife, which he had placed tightly in the dashboard right in front of him, falls into the foot space. Actually this isn’t possible.
Even if you pull on it you can’t get it loose and he didn’t even touch it. Strange. This was the first time that it fell down and he thinks it’s a sign that the gods have seen us and said okay.
Now Rudi gets out of the car as well, wants to see the place by himself. He is standing there for a while, facing away from us, looking into the far distance.
Maybe this is really a magical place.
By now it is dark. Nobody says anything. Neither in the car, nor via radio. Everyone is in thoughts and somehow it is as if the expedition stood still in everyone’s minds as well for a moment.
I will get some sleep here.
March 07, 2010: 151st short message (09:00 a.m. CET)
The last 5 km were really tiring. We had to uncouple and attach the trailer about 40 times, made a track, drove back, etc. But now we reached the utter end of the headland at N 65°29.027 / W 172°04.992. This means that only 15 km are left until Lorino. We have to drive 1-3 km over sea ice in order to get onto the other headland. But this depends on the ice situation. We won’t go about it at night. We wait for daylight,
Team alright, fuel reserves okay. The engine of F1 stutters due to problems with its fuel supply. At the next opportunity we will have to clean the fuel pump. Additionally we have had an overheated servo steering; air in the system. When we weld the axle of F2, we also have to repair this.
March 08, 2010: 152nd short message (06:56 a.m. CET)
8 a.m. We started. 15 km on ice and a headland lie between us and Lorino. We hope that we’ll make it today.
4.30 p.m. After eleven days in snow and ice – on a track which, according to our information, has never been covered by cars, let alone with trailers and of one’s own accord, four men depending on themselves – we just reached Lorino. Considering that many people didn’t think we could make it, we are more than just a little pleased.
5.30 p.m. After an affectionate greeting with many children, the registration and check of the papers, we are going back on the road and heading towards Lavrentia now. 43 km.
Current position: N 65°32.323 / W 171°16.683
March 08, 2010: 153rd short message (12:56 p.m. CET)
Midnight. We reached the suburbs of Lavrentia. Currently we are three kilometers outside of the city on a hill (current Position: N 65°35.577 / W 171°04.660) and decided to stay here for the night, drive to the city tomorrow morning.
At this point I would like to thank Valeriy, a great guy. A man who doesn’t care that others thought he’s crazy when he decided to accompany the expedition.
Thank you for helping us out. We liked to travel with you, you have been a great fellow, tough and reliable. Thank you for your cheerful nature and your high spirits! Valeriy will now go back to Providenia and Konstantin Savva will take his place in the team. Therefore the team remains equally parted in Russian/German team members.
March 09, 2010: 154th short message (02:19 a.m. CET)
We will drive into the city now. From here to Uelen it is another 80 km linear distance. We will check up on the cars for the next 2-3 days and try to drive towards Uelen at the end of the week.
march 10, 2010: 155th short message (08:16 p.m. Cet)
we received a very warm welcome here in lavrentia. Immediately after we drove into the city, the head of administration welcomed us. They organized everything for us, a small apartment with kitchen, a warm box in which we can repair the cars (partly we already got some things done, e.g. Welding of the front axles, modification of the tires, changing batteries, checking everything, etc.).
Really awesome. A very sincere welcome in this exceptional city at the end of chukotka. We were invited to have a little presentation in the cultural center of the city tomorrow.
Currently we plan to leave for uelen at the weekend.
march 12, 2010: 156th short message (05:59 a.m. Cet)
following up on the invitation, we visited the school today. There were about 80 children who attended our little speech. Afterwards we were invited to an excellent meal in the school’s assembly hall.
Slowly, the preparations for the safety during the bering strait crossing come to a final. Right now we are checking/completing the emergency equipment. The cars are almost ready. We only have to dismantle/reattach the tanks to clean the fuel pump, check/adjust the wheel bearings of the trailers, fuel up, do some grocery shopping, and then we weill try to get back on the street on sunday morning.
march 14, 2010: 157th short message (11:50 p.m. Cet)
we will take off towards uelen in about three hours. A difficult track with many inclinations and five passes lies ahead of us. Furthermore there will be a narrow spot with open water from a river.
Behind us, a storm is building which puts pressure on us. A storm warning has already been given to the administration. We hope not to be hit full on by the storm and to arrive in uelen in 3-4 days.
Team is doing alright. From now on we can only be reached via satellite mail.
march 15, 2010: 158th short message (08:01 a.m. Cet)
just hit the road. Driving in darkness. Had problems with trailer of f2 and the new servo pump of f1 broke down once again. Luckily we had another one. Now it just cannot brake down again.
Another 100km to the easternmost place of asia.
march 15, 2010: 159th short message (01:36 p.m. Cet)
we left at 6.30 p.m.
On recommendation of vestichot drivers from lavrentia, we crossed the large bay of lavrentia – of course on ice – in a western curve. The entire distance on ice: 8 km. No problem, except for some cracks that we could easily drive around. But then, a difficult sedimentation at the shore with 800 m steep inclination.
Sensational, how the wrangler mt/rs clung to the snow.
Now, our position is n 65°39.811 / w 170°53.617
about 92 km to uelen left.
March 15, 2010: 160th short message (04:03 p.m. CET)
Nine hours for 14 kilometers – not bad.
Current position: N 65°44.185 / W 170°53.227
Everything is okay. 86 km to go.
March 16, 2010: 161st short message (00:30 a.m. CET)
8 a.m. After four hours of sleep, a lukewarm cup of coffee and a couple of cookies, we continued our drive. Our way (GPS-track which is usually used be the Vestichot supply drivers) leads us across a large plateau which is – in the distance – framed by ridges. The impression of endless vastness is amplified by dazzling light that spreads through snow, haze and sunrays.
Vanishingly small, like a “nothing”, we slowly move through this vastness with our vehicles and trailers. The speed of 2 km/h is doing the rest.
At this point we would like to say a special thank you to the administration and the “JHK”, Lavrentia’s communal service, for their help and support. Especially the provision of the two working areas in the local garages for the repair of our two vehicles was a big help.
March 16, 2010: 162nd short message (00:55 a.m. CET)
12 p.m. Are progressing well. Current position: N 65°50.593 / W 170°50.588
There’s a storm in Anadyr and Providenia, while we are driving through the most beautiful sunshine. The weather forecast – according to which the storm is supposed to pass right over us – is amazingly good. Right now we are in the midst of a high, which squeezed between two low-pressure systems. I am dumbfounded about how great the weather data of the DWD are that we receive, and completely rely on these information to a 100% in all regards.
70 km to go.
March 16, 2010: 163rd short message (05:06 a.m. CET)
4 p.m. Another damage on the fan’s engine. It slowed us down. Afterwards we entered the most difficult part of the section: a canyon that is difficult to drive and that ends in the inclination to a pass. Great, we are digging for two hours at the same spot. Difficult/tired.
March 16, 2010: 164th short message (12:01 p.m. CET)
5 p.m. Moved forwards meter for meter. But now there is absolutely no sight for the drivers. Due to the light, snow and haze, we can’t recognize any outlines anymore, even with our yellow glasses anymore. Everything is a white-blue soup. Decided to take a break and stay for the night. We will sleep for about three hours. Then we will try to drive/work for the rest of the night. Are approximately 500 meters before the first of five passes.
7.30 p.m. A horrible sound wakes me from my sleep. My engine? I pull the door open. No, everything’s fine. Then it has to be Rudi’s car. What a bummer! I jump out, stumble drowsily towards F2, fall, and then see two lights that appear behind F2: a drilled out Vestichot or one without an exhaust pipe.
Wow, man. Nobody needs a scare like that.
The bottom line is that this turned out to be good for us because a) we would have had to get up anyway, and b) the Vestichot now prepares a track, at least for a couple of kilometers before it heads towards Naschken. We can follow this track and have it a little easier. We drive in the track with one wheel and only have to shovel for the other. Once again a great coincidence.
Durrent position: N 65°54.331 / W 170°43.951
March 16, 2010: 165th short message (10:30 p.m. CET)
4 a.m. We were shoveling for 4.5 hours only to get out of the canyon. 12 tons of snow were relocated. ;-) We rectified the inclination. We are literally on our last legs.
60 km to go. We will take some sleep now.
8 a.m. Sunlight wakes us only to present the next nasty inclination right in front of us in the most beautiful light – no, this can’t be true.
It’s twice as long as the one from last night and just as steep – oh boy!
March 16, 2010: 166th short message (22:50 p.m. CET)
How awesome is that?
We just drove all the way up!
1.5 km later we are now located at N 65°57.574 / W 170°33.869 beneath a hill, aslope in an inclination, heading towards North. We have the most beautiful sunshine and to our right we have a wonderful view and can see the Bering Strait with Radmadov Island (Big Diomede) right in the middle, between two mountains. The inclination that we are standing on, declines all the way to the Bering Strait until it evens out in ice. Why can’t we just take turn her?
To our left we can clearly see traces from wolves. An amazing image in an amazing landscape.
March 17, 2010: 167th short message (03:30 a.m. CET)
We tackled the next pass. Right now, we are stuck below the highest point of the pass for three hours. We are shoveling with our sand sheets, uncoupling, attaching. We are busy. Additionally: F2 only turns until 4000 1/min and F1 only until 2500 1/min. After that there is only jerking and then they stall. We assume there must be dirt in the tank.
40 km to go.
March 17, 2010: 168th short message (06:09 a.m. CET)
After six hours we arrived at the highest point of the pass. The view from here is gigantic. In the distance, we can see the end of Russia, the end of Asia. The last mountains before the Bering Strait can be seen on the horizon. For the first time I can see the end of the journey though Asia.
Behind us, the sun sets and submerges everything in a sea of red/orange color. According to our map there are 30 km and a pass left.
Current position: N 66°00.786 / W 170°26.039
March 17, 2010: 169th short message (10:53 a.m. CET)
A race against time has begun. According to the weather forecast we will be hit by a storm tomorrow, Thursday, around noon. It will also bring snow. Are fighting our fatigue off. Currently we are standing in a riverbed at N 66°01.777 / W 170°17.780
After many attempts, F1 made it up the hill. Now the trailer and then F2. Along these 100 m we can only winch. Wind is starting. First gusts are already here and raise the snow. Hopefully we’ll make it and don’t have to stay for days in the storm. 22 km to go.
March 17, 2010: 170th short message (07:46 p.m. CET)
Had to stop last night at around 2 a.m. Standing, we were alright. I was hardly able to keep my eyes open. Especially now, after five hours of winching and shoveling to get out of the river. But we made it.
We agreed to sleep for 30 minutes, then we wanted to continue. Unfortunately our “night watch” – who was supposed to remain awake – fell asleep as well after (according to his own account ;-)) trying to wake me up several times.
Whatever… Just some minutes ago (6 a.m.) we woke up. We have…
beautiful weather and … the sun just starts rising behind the last Russian mountains. It looks as if it raises from the Bering Sea.
We see the end of the continent, the Bering Strait, ice, Radmanov Island – amazing.
Now we will eat some breakfast.
March 17, 2010: 171st short message (09:47 p.m. CET)
It’s a little bizarre. From our current position (N 66°02.949 / W 170°08.608) we can see “the real yesterday” (little Diomede / Alaska) for the first time.
Looks like today, but how should they know. ;-)
17 km to go.
March 17, 2010: 172nd short message (11:10 p.m. CET)
8.47 a.m. First intervisibility with Uelen. On the horizon we were able to see the houses of Uelen for a short moment.
14 km to go.
March 18, 2010: 173rd short message (00:08 a.m. CET)
10.45 a.m. After all, a race on the last few meters. This cannot be true. The storm that was supposed to be here by noon, sends messenger after messenger. The wind increases, clouds cast shadows. Menacing they arrive from all sides, seem to surround us. They seem to sink sown. We press ourselves to the ground, try to squeeze underneath them, and try not to get caught. They are snow clouds. The blizzard awaits us. In some places it’s snowing already. It’s threatening us, as it seems.
Position: N 66°05.036 / W 170°00.475
8 km to go.
March 18, 2010: 174th short message (01:26 a.m. CET)
12.30 p.m. 6 km until we arrive in Uelen. The blizzard starts. Only 40 m visibility left.
March 18, 2010: 175th short message (05:05 a.m. CET)
What a welcome, what a welcome. Many came, laughed, and were happy with us. The cars received the signatures of at least all children from Uelen ;-) and many others. Lavrentia was immediately informed that we arrived.
Our has already been arranged. We have a small room in a house of one of Victor’s friends.
The team will take a little break now. Then, as soon as possible, we will start repairing the cars and make preparations for the Bering Strait.
March 18, 2010: 176th short message (09:41 a.m. CET)
8 p.m. Parked the trailers in front of the house, found a box for the cars, ate some warm food. Are going to sleep now. We got an invitation for a speech in the school tomorrow. Additionally, we to take care of several administrative issues, etc.
Thanks to Russia
I hesitated until now, BUT it looks like we have the opportunity to arrive. 2 km to go.
On this day, the day that we arrive at the end of Russia and thus the end of Asia, I would like to write a Thank You to Russia.
“Today, personally and representative for all who have been a part of this and who will be a part of this, I bow low for the people of Russia and thank the government/administration of this country. Thank you for giving the expedition “Paris / New York – Transcontinental” the privilege to drive through your country and collect so many unbelievable experiences. I will not forget what you have offered for the PNY-expedition. It is the big heart of Russia that can give hospitality as I’ve never seen it anywhere else in the world. It is the Russian tradition, culture and people that deserve respect and reckoning.
It is a special, an extraordinary important culture.
Thanks to Uelen
Right now there are bits and pieces of words, half sentences or sometimes complete phrases running through my head.
The time has come for a few thoughts – today.
In the radio of my car are playing songs that have accompanied me for years. It is comfortably warm in the car, the mind wanders.
Every once in a while I get reminded how insignificant a few millimeters of iron sheet and glass around us are. Without the engine running, the 75° difference in temperature that we already had, wouldn’t be kept for longer than a couple of minutes.
There are probably many people who consider what we do as pointless. There will be people who smile at us and there might be people that we/I have upset during our trip to Uelen.
It could be. And hereby I would like to apologize - personally and representative - to those whom we knowingly or unknowingly upset.
If we fail the upcoming attempt of the Bering Strait crossing or not, if people vilify us or not, if people laugh about us/me or not, there is one thing that we definitely achieved: many people got to know one another, accomplished the extraordinary and were a part of a special journey. These contacts, meeting, conversations, etc. have left memories within each and every one of us. Even if only a very little piece has left an impression, is memorable – a connection of the most different cultures during the long way to the end of Asia.
Credit goes to all people, beginning in Paris, it is a journey of all of us who have been with us or helped, personally or in their thoughts, actively or passively. I hope to have given each and every one of you the feeling of gratitude. If this was not the case, I would like to apologize for this as well and would like to make up for it right now.
There are small, big, extraordinary and unbelievable efforts that the most different people have given us.
I cannot name all of the people that the project so far is indebted to. They are just too many. But representative to all who have contributed extraordinarily, I would like to tell the story of a little boy:
In a village that we drove through, he came at me. Wrapped in warm clothing, he came with his mother from somewhere through the cold just to meet us. When he arrived at my car, he gave me his hand. And when I was going to shake his hand to say hello, I noticed that he didn’t want to give me his hand, but that he wanted to give me a present. There was a small lucky charm in his thick mitten.
He wanted to give me some luck.
This little man, who was smiling from ear to ear, gave the expedition and me some luck. He might never know how happy I was about this moment, but I want everyone to know how extraordinary his effort was.
From the view of a child, waiting for strangers, with cars that you can gaze at or be afraid of, covered in thick clothing through the bone-chilling cold, going to a complete stranger, smiling at him who hasn’t done anything for it and give him a present, that’s extraordinary. He didn’t know that I have two sons who haven’t seen for way too long and how much I think about them every day, how much I miss them. He didn’t know how much strength to continue I was able to take from his act. But he has made a special contribution when I got down on my knees and gratefully took the present.
As important as the effort of this little boy was, many adults have done things that touched us, that made us happy, that helped, that built bridges, that connected, that made borders and obstacles disappear.
I thank all of you.
Sincerely, Matthias Jeschke
P.S.: Current position of both vehicles and trailer since 1.45 p.m.: N 66°09.169 / W 169°48.928 = 200 m away from Uelen. We don’t know of any other vehicle that has made it all the way to Uelen from Paris by its own accord along the southern route – let alone not with trailers.
March 22, 2010: 177th short message (11:20 a.m. CET)
First, the entire team would like to say Thank You for all the congratulations we received. It motivates us, it’s great. Thank you.
Regarding the weather it looks really bad at the moment. Chukotka is under control of two low-pressure systems and here, at the easternmost point, the wind changed from south to north. This, along with the low-pressure systems with storms, is well and truly raining on our parade right now.
Oh well, without the kindness of the good weather of the last days, we wouldn’t be here. Therefore we wait and prepare ourselves.
We use the time to sort and arrange the equipment, we try on our survival suits, we prepare the first aid kits, we repair and modify the technical equipment like lamps, telephones, notebooks, the wiring, etc., we break our Bunny Boots in, study maps, hold conversations with whale and seal hunters about the currents, the ice, weather and ice conditions. Furthermore we held a school and a cultural speech, received a special concert by the local dance group with traditional dances, took a shower, etc.
By the way, the bad weather is really controlling the entire of Chukotka at the moment. Almost all flights are cancelled.
Even flights from Moscow are unable to land in Anadyr. They were redirected to Magadan and then send back. Many people in the different villages, cities, etc. cannot come forth. They are waiting for connecting flights.
Once again, waiting is necessary – and that’s not easy. It costs just as much nerves as the actual driving. Well, let’s see.
By the way, Rudi is working on his Russian language skills and Victor is organizing like a pro again.
March 26, 2010: 178th short message (05:08 a.m. CET)
Good days are different.
Unexpectedly we had to leave our accommodation the day before yesterday because the person with whom we lived up until now, wanted to take a helicopter that was supposed to arrive but which didn’t arrive in the end. We only had a few hours to find a new accommodation and thus were running up and down the streets anxiously, asked people, the administration, the weather station, etc. Finally, we found a small, empty apartment.
Now – after rearranging and completely cleaning it in a heave-ho action – it is our apartment. Then, we had to move the same night. All of our equipment, tools, clothes, sleeping-bags, shoes, the whole rescue equipment, etc. – just everything – had to be moved. First we carried as much as each of us could take and walked to the other end of Uelen. Then a driver of a Russian Buran that also had a skid trailer came and offered to help us. Then the children came and in the end we were surrounded by people who held the things on the skid in place, accompanied us, carried things, talked and helped, etc.
Anyway, the move means more privacy for the team. Everyone has its own sleeping area now (or something similar to that). We have a table and a ceramic piece that was supposed to be a toilet bowl with a spray flushing. Oh well, at least we don’t have to carry water for the toilet.
Instead we have to carry fresh water which gets delivered to the outside and which we have to carry inside the apartment in buckets.
But much more that this little story annoy me the processes in connection with the US-authorities in Moscow. You can really get a flash because of their mindset and behavior. Concerning this matter, yesterday was once again a really sh*tty day. After receiving a nice letter on behalf of an American supervisor, we had to react fast.
The US-authority called Victor Burstein, the most deserving of all who helped us, without whom the expedition with American vehicles NEVER would have reached Uelen, to Moscow, to clarify some documents. Yesterday, these people actually asked for evidence to prove the existence of the expedition. You won’t believe that this is true. I was very upset about this.
Therefore, Victor is now traveling from Uelen!! To Moscow because the American Embassy is actually AMERICA. But nobody cares that the vehicles are American vehicles.
It’s strange that on the other hand we receive more and more inquiries by American magazines and newspapers who want to publish and describe the historic accomplishments of the expedition with the “oh so great American vehicles”. I cannot answer because it makes my stomach churn if I only think about how we have been let down by an American partner, how we hung in there despite it, how Victor has to crawl to Moscow now, etc.
Meanwhile we prepare ourselves and the vehicles and were also able to take a decent shower in the heating factory (even though I was a little bit surprised that Rudi wanted to take a shower again. He was able to enjoy a shower just a couple of days ago ;-)).
March 26, 2010: 179th short message (05:52 a.m. CET)
Don’t give up and make the impossible possible.
Together with some very very special supporters and friends, Victor is in an airplane on his way to Moscow. He is a hero. Nobody except for him, the great people who supported us in Russia and the EE-Office including the Flugbörse in Germany, could have done this. Traveling from Uelen to Moscow in only two days.
March 31, 2010: 180th short message (09:11 p.m. CET)
Uelen surely is different from any other village that we have visited/driven through until now. It seems that time, language, habits and life take different ways here. Life literally happens on the streets here…
We received three invitations. Three visits with people/families that couldn’t have been more different, three experiences with impressions that can make you thoughtful.
Other than that, the days pass while we work on the vehicles. We relieve the cars from as much weight as possible, modify the tanks, change the luggage racks, open the roofs to make room for an emergency exit, mount the outboard engines, arrange the components of the lifting system, prepare the hydraulics, repair damages that occurred on our way from Lavrentia to Uelen, and so on…
By now the storm, which brought icy northern winds and a windchill factor of -40°C, has decreased. It controlled Uelen for the last few days and took everything but the kitchen sink. At least now we no longer have to wear hats and jackets when we are in our apartment. And until now thousands of ice crystals have blocked our view but finally a few centimeters have melted away from the windows.
I also sent a couple of pictures from the modifications in the garage, which has been built right on the beach. When we are lying underneath the cars, we are sort of also on Uelen’s beach.
Other pictures show chukot food and wood craft.
April 1, 2010: 181th short message (01:37 a.m. CET)
I asked Victor to take the train from outside into Moscow on Sunday night instead of Monday morning. He arrived in Moscow on Monday morning at around 7 a.m. To get to his meeting with the German Embassy, he had to take the underground line. Only one hour later a bomb exploded on that same line.
Via my office we were promptly notified about the terrorist attack and were very worried. Also, because at that time we were not able to contact Victor via telephone. Later we heard that his cell phone was stored at the gate of the German Embassy. Everything is fine – guardian angels and good spirits seem to be with Victor nonstop at the moment.
This morning we had a great start of the day. First we received extraordinarily good news from an authority in the United States, then Victor called to let me know that his meeting with the US-Embassy went great and then – almost like a coronation – we received a letter by the Russian administration, granting the PNY-expedition to officially leave Russia via the “non-border point” Uelen.
We appreciate the cooperation and would like to sincerely thank all involved people, ministries and authorities.
April 1, 2010: 182nd short message (10:14 a.m. CET)
How annoying. Why should a day ever be completely good?
Some agreements don’t seem to matter all that much. Today, the women whom we rented the apartment from called and told us that we have to leave the apartment, even though we cleaned the whole apartment, fixed the water pipe in the kitchen and repaired the toilet, additionally to the agreed payment. Is that woman crazy? We have an agreement for a whole month. Boy, things like this annoy me so much.
Look like she is trying to take advantage of us. Especially, because – after I was really agitated – she offered us on the telephone to remain in the apartment if we paid the triple amount.
Whatever. We will not leave the apartment before the end of our month and thus are expecting – for the first time in Russia – troubles. Hopefully there are some people in Uelen or St. Petersburg where she lives who make her understand that this is not right.
The good news:
Today, we mounted and started the first Tohatsu Outboard engine for the first time after 1.5 years in which they have been transported (unprotected, in a lying position, standing, shaking-dust-and-coldness, on trailers, several rearrangements, ice and snow). At the second ignition, it worked. It’s just amazing. Let’s hope that the second outboard engine will do the same tomorrow.
April 2, 2010: 183rd short message (11:47 a.m. CET)
Last night we were invited to join the audience during a dancing rehearsal of an Eskimo group. We were excited about a little mongoloid boy who learned a lot on those two hours of dancing.
We were able to fix the bad situation with the landlord in that we can stay in the apartment until the end of the agreed month to the agreed conditions. It was very difficult and cost a lot of nerves, but oh well.
Today we have a new problem. The GPS Spot emergency system doesn’t work and the awesome people from the manufacturing company are not capable or willing to call back, let alone find a solution for this problem. We (the expedition) were only planning to rely on it in the case of a necessary rescue mission. I am anxious to see how they want to fix this – anyway, it is unnecessary like a struma when things like this don’t work and especially if you have to sit at home all day as if you didn’t have other things to do, just because those guys can’t call back as discussed.
At least Rudi didn’t let grass grow under his feet. He visited the local power and heat supply station with the video/photo equipment and had someone explain to him how it worked. He was allowed to inspect the technology that keeps most everything alive. Nice men are there who will welcome us anytime. Especially Slava, the 70-years old chief-heater who looks like 50-60 and has muscles like a 40-years old bodybuilder, is very outgoing. Once and again we have been sitting together, drank some tea, listened to his story; sometimes no one says a word and everyone is in his own thoughts.
The living situation here is unique and special, here, on this two-rows-of-houses-wide piece of land between the Bering Strait and the lagoon in which Uelen is located. People adapt and live according to nature sets the course.
April 06, 2010: 184th short message (12:34 p.m. CET)
The second Tohatsu Outboard engine is working and the modifications of the vehicles in the little garage progress.
However, there are parameters that keep us from starting the crossing of the Bering Strait at the moment. On the one hand we have to wait for the customs clearance by the Russian border and customs services; and on the other hand the weather situation is anything but ideal right now.
One storm/low pressure system is followed by the next. Strong winds from north do cause a strong concentration of ice in the Bering Strait, but due to the overall weather conditions a start is not possible.
April 9, 2010: 185th short message (11:51 a.m. CET)
If I didn’t know better, I would think the Bermuda is here. Slowly it is becoming eerie here.
First, we have to send Victor to Moscow where he only scarcely sidesteps the terror attacks. Then an earthquake happened in a close range to our location (at N 65.3 / W 170.7) yesterday morning.
We don’t know the entire context yet, but the wave that was caused by the seismic shock (which was measured with 4.7), seems to be responsible for that the ice along the coast of Uelen broke off completely in the morning hours. “Know me over with a feather!”
In order to get a better view of it we hiked for about 10 km along the crack until we were almost at “the three brothers” (a lump of rock before the cap). Interesting.
At the same time we meet some local hunters who make use of the broken ice to hunt and go fishing.
April 12, 2010: 186th short message (06:41 a.m. CET)
Waiting, waiting, waiting. We are condemned to wait.
Currently we have extremely bad weather.
There’s a storm and it’s snowing for days as if Mother Holle was hopping mad. Furthermore, one low-pressure system is followed by another. By now there are meters high snow drifts along the houses and between the containers that are standing everywhere. In the meantime, temperatures have increased to around zero degree, everything is wet.
The cars have been finished except for the pontoons and hydraulics, but there’s no way that we can even think about starting. No one gets in or out. The storms control Chukotka. Not even the Russian Vestichots (track vehicles) are driving.
By now even the water trucks that supply Uelen with fresh water from a well that is about four kilometers away, cannot drive there anymore due to the huge amount of snow. Thereupon the tap water (kitchen, heater, etc.) has been changed to salt water since yesterday. The trucks can only drive a couple hundred meters onto the frozen lagoon and get salt water through a drilled hole for the power and heat supply station.
The days for the waiting – by now decimated – team members are characterized by discipline. It’s first priority and protects us. Rudi and I stick to it with grimly sternness in order to hang on despite all impressions. However, that doesn’t change the things that are happening around us and which we cannot influence. By now we had to part company by another team member. When I will be writing the book one day, maybe I can explain better what happened, what put a strain on us, what hardships we had to see and experience, how the things happened that were meant to happen – or were not meant to happen.
April 12, 2010: 187th short message (12:15 p.m. CET)
Due to the strong southern storm, the ice at Uelen’s shore and along the Cape drifted away 1-2 km from the shore after it broke off of the shorefast. It “anchors” menacingly, seems to observe us just like we do with it. If the wind turns, the crack is closed again within hours.
There are hundreds of seagulls and ducks cavorting in the crack right now. We have no idea where they have been hiding. Except for dogs and culled seals, we only noticed a few ravens the entire time.
April 13, 2010: 188th short message (12:03 p.m. CET)
Yesterday evening, for a very short moment, there has been some ease in the storm.
It has been deceptively pleasant when the wind abruptly faded, the sky opened up, the remaining light of the day illuminated the water channel at around 8 p.m. The water purled, ducks and seagulls swam. The lashing, ice-cold northern wind was back again during the night and this morning. The channel no longer exists. It’s all ice. The water with about 35 gram salt per liter froze within 12 hours. Ice from the North keeps pushing enormously.
At the same place where the tearing edge has been just yesterday, there were sitting about ten hunters with their guns leveled this morning that were waiting for the seals to stick their noses through the breathing holes or the cracked ice into the air. Watch out.
April 14, 2010: 189th short message (10:16 a.m. CET)
Situation gets worse. Weather is still characterized by storm, snow and snow drifts. Difficult times. Brown saltwater at every occasion puts the icing on the cake.
Our freshwater resources: about 40 liters left. Let’s see.
April 15, 2010: 190th short message (11:33 a.m. CET)
By now we know how prisoners must feel. Hence we must behave well. They turned off our telephone for five days now (No, not what you are thinking. We did pay our bills right away, every time.) and this morning, the saltwater supply gave out because of a damage. Now the heater isn’t working either. Oh well, luckily we at least have our thick Mammut sleeping bags.
April 16, 2010: 191st short message (11:32 a.m. CET)
After intense studies of the weather conditions, we made use of a very little weather frame (ca. eight hours) right before the beginning of a new storm and made a tough six-hour ride, that led me to my limits, with a snow mobile and sled 100 km from Uelen to Lavrentia last night to wait here for a couple of days.
Amongst others, we hereby improved our communication possibilities considerably and are not completely cut off.
The next storm began less than three hours after our arrival, snow flurries started and last.
April 19, 2010: 192nd short message (10:10 a.m. CET)
There’s a crazy storm going on ever since the night that we arrived. The hurricane doesn’t stop whipping snow across the Bering Strait, Uelen, Lavrentia, and so on. Not even for one hour. Storm and snow flurries everywhere. Tons of snow. Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Meanwhile, in the city they prepare for the arrival of a multimillionaire/billionaire who has already been in outer space and who now plans to fly from Anadyr to Lavrentia via microlight.
As far as we understood with our limited Russian, a larger airplane is supposed to bring the microlight to Anadyr in parts. There, the crew assembles it. Then the boss flies to Lavrentia with the little bird. There it gets taken apart again and packed in a Cessna. The Cessna is supposed to bring the little plane over the Bering Strait to America. Upps. Furthermore, there is a traveler on its way to Uelen who plans to cross the Bering Strait via the Chukot and Eskimo way with a hunting boat in summer.
Wee, maybe we’ll meet one of them.
April 26, 2010: 193rd short message (07:08 p.m. CET)
Last Friday, during a weather frame which only lasted few hours, we flew to Anadyr with a special airplane of Chukotavia. The airplane made use of the short moment, in which there was calm weather, to make a hasty shipping of foods (amongst others) to Lavrentia.
After 1.5 months of futile waiting I decided the day before that further waiting doesn’t make sense any longer. Due to the heavy storms it is not possible for the team of the Russian authorities to arrive in Uelen, or rather to leave Uelen in a decent time frame. While we were waiting there for 1.5 months, only one single helicopter was able to fly to Uelen. We only left because we found the venturesome Skidoo driver who dared the nightly “escape” between two storms and who didn’t want to pass up this extraordinary chance. A hell of a ride. Insofar I can understand and accept the concerns by the official authorities. Meanwhile, spring storms have arrived at the Bering Strait. A crossing is completely out of question at the moment.
At the same time this means a high financial burden, as well as an interruption that takes at least several months.
For now I will go back to Germany to have some conversations and then decide how we will continue.
In order to continue, it is especially important that there is an alliance of partners who keep supporting the expedition in the future.
I would like to say thank you to the team of 2010 that has managed to proof a very very high extent of will power, endurance and courage throughout all the difficult situations we had to face. I am happy about what we achieved.
I would also like to thank the overly friendly and kind reception in Lavrentia during the last few days, especially to the administration, Victor and Marina for their heartiness, and to the staff of the well-kept accommodation where we were allowed to sleep.