Lake Baikal, situated in Siberia, is the largest and deepest lake on earth. It contains enough water to cover the whole globe in 20 cm of water. We want to be the first to cross this lake in the 700 km longitudinal direction solely on foot. We will walk on a 70 to 120 cm thick layer of ice. The best method to transport our baggage under these conditions is to use a special sled called a pulka. In this way both of us can eachpull 80 to 100 kg of equipment, clothing and food. The mean calculated expedition time is about 6 weeks, but we have scheduled another 2 weeks just to be on the safe side. Most people do not really understand why some people do such things voluntarily. There are several reasons.
Hardangervidda 2002 - Trial run in the wintery Haukelifjell
After a long phase of preparation at long last on the 18th November 2002 Stephan and Stefan set off for their final great equipment test in Norway before the great event in Siberia.
In Larvik, on the far coast of the Baltic Sea, they receive their first impression of the cold. They find Alexander Bierwald from Acapulka in his workshop wearing a down vest and a warm hat. The two sports students had arranged to meet him in order to pick up their tailor- made pulks, 2m10 long equipment sleds for the Baikal expedition. The next morning off it went towards Haukelifjell. Arriving at the foot of the plateau a good place had to be found where to leave the car for ten days, safe from being totally covered in snow. Best for that seems to be the snow-plough station shortly before Haukeliseter.
When at about 16.00h all the equipment had been lashed to the two pulks, the snow shoes and gaiters had been fitted, the heavily snowed up barren mountains were almost exclusively lit up by the cold light of the moon.
Nevertheless Stephan and Stefan attempt to construct the steep ascent into the actual mountain range so as to be able to set up a bivouac away from the only road. When three hours later they have finally reached the top many a drop of perspiration has mixed with the deep snow.
Luckily Lake Baikal is plane and affords a surface with lesser friction.
Here the putting up of the tent requires alternatingly the application of the snow shovel and the snow shoes to create a plane surface to sleep on and to protect oneselve from the bitingly cold , icy wind behind a snow wall.
Over night the weather changes. The next day offers a chance to become accustomed to the conditions that accompany the complete preparation tour. The temperature is still between -10° C and -20° C, the sky however remains completely overcast and snow is falling. In mountainous regions the result of such weather is a total blurring of all outlines. No slopes, no climbs, no snow drifts can be identified. Sometimes even the line of the horizon between the sky and the mountains cannot be made out.
In the following days progress is very slow for the two. In these conditions navigation is only possible with a GPS system. A lot of time has to be given to the construction of a good and safe place for the bivouac and the melting of snow for the preparation of their daily ration of PowerBar Hydro Plus.
When the sportsmen return from their round trip to the station in Haukeliseter, a large amount of their equipment has proved itself in difficult conditions and they have also increased their knowledge quite a lot. Now they can look forward to their expedition to Lake Baikal with a greater feeling of confidence.