Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Frozen Frontier: Paradise found

      A far from permanent camp called Turten (meaning the place with no food for the reindeer in Eveny) -12th of February 2013 -Around -30 degrees Celsius (amazingly warm!)

Paradise found!

Yesterday when we rode into Vika´s papas camp, it felt like I was part of an old Western movie. However, instead of tee-pees and horses, we found 7 tents with warming smoke coming out of them and a bunch of sleds with reindeer tied to them, which showed they will not stay permanently. This was the temporary home of Vika’s parents, Piotr and Jevdokya Andreejevs. We got off the sleds after another hard day, 30 km:s of too much risky ice and a dense forest which we pretty much shot through full speed. I thought the main reason was that Vika wanted to see her parents, but the main reason was that Yura wanted to see his 8th month pregnant wife who was in camp waiting to be airlifted out to the hospital in Okhotsk by helicopter. Another fact that I wasn´t aware off. There´s so much info, so much interesting conversation which just passes me by and if I ever regret not speaking a language, this is the time!

Before I continue my joy of having found a piece of paradise, let me just tell you that the last three days have been very demanding. Especially two days ago when we went through a long passage of open ice and as you can understand, in these temperatures that is extremely dangerous, if not a certain death.

We began the day we descending from a high plateau, about 250 metres in altitude, on to the ice. We got hit by a major drama immediately. One of the young reindeer which was picked up on route, also not known to me, had a faulty leg. And now it didn´t want to continue. It just refused to stand up. The leader of the group, Slava, went up to the young one stroked it, patted it and talked to it. You can really see how much the Even love their reindeer and how much they care for them. That was one of the most beautiful moments in my life, happenings I only have with my daughters and wife – true joy, this moment of love. But, of course, you need to proceed quite hard to get the animal up on its feet and eventually it did work. So we all set off over the ice surrounded by a stunning scenery of old, rolling mountains. We went through the ice at one stage, but unfortunately double ice. Yura told me he had gone through the ice once at this area, a year back, but didnt think that this was anything to make an issue of. Worse was that he had lost reindeer who had gone under. And Tolya had lost his brother who went through the ice on his snowmobile a year back in time.

When crossing the ice, in total probably 5 km:s, you move fast and try to avoid to stop. It was somehow thrilling. In all this drama, the surroundings just took the breath out of me. Anyway, it is always good to move a bit to scare off the freezing cold we have had since the start. It has really been cold and demanding, but we are out of the worst now. We’ve crossed into a new zone, from Yakutia to the Khabarovsk region. Two different climatic zones. Right now all the snow dropped of the trees, much less snow and the cold has risen to easier night temperatures around -35 and -40,

The only problem in this area is the constant wind. I’ve picked up a couple of slight frost nips, nothing serious, or as the Eveny would say:

’“Normal-na!’“”
This adventure is really on par with a good Jack London book!

Well, at least for me. For the Eveny, this is just a normal day of their life. How demanding I found out after arriving in camp and met what I thought was the old lady of the camp Jevdokya. Turns out she is the same age as me, 50 and I was sure she was around 65-70. Today she showed how wrong I was to assume so wrong.

This morning I set off after 1 with the hardest working photographer in the world, Yura Berezhnev, who is also a great guy and human being, tough as steel. Vika and her mother went to their autumn camp, Malma (small river in Evensky), 4 km:s off to pick up some food and clothes left there half a year ago. She shot over the ice like a rocket and even wanted us to compete running!

The autumn camp was a beauty. Log cabins, tents, storage huts on poles and traces after their successful hunt. Trophies of bear, moose, mountain goat and wild reindeer littered the camp. This was also the place where the children get picked up by helicopter and brought to school and their boarding home. Taking about children, we have a lovely boy, 6 years old, Andre in camp who we all love. I see, now when I have 2 daughters and a wife I dream about every night and miss, how much more I interact with children. He became almost akin to me whilst childless. He will start school next year and seems to love life out here!

Another person in the team who loves life out here is Yegor Makarov. He is the man behind this Expedition and without his friendship this would have been impossible. Initially tense from all business demands, now so relaxed. He is extremely important to the Expedition because he interacts greatly with everyone we meet and is very liked by all. I couldn’t have chosen a better partner. Unfortunately it is the language barrier again, and we have so much to talk about but can´t. This is sad of course.

Bolot has a sore throat and has felt bad for a couple of days.

It’s was a tough start. I have put on far too much fat and have been too tired, but this is normal for me. I wanna be strong til the end. I hope this will be the case this time as well…I am loosing weight, feeling stronger each day…;-)

This is a fantastic time and I feel more privileged than ever to get this chance.

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