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  #1  
Old 16 Jan 2005
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Magdan to Yakutsk, Road Quality?

Am planning to ride from Magadan to Yakutsk (and further on) in July 2005 and would appreciate any information on the quality of the "all year" road between Magadan and Yakutsk, the one that goes north to Ust-Nera and back down to Kyubeme. I have read the Blue Dunes web site and seen Ewan McGreggor's show, but I think both tours took the short cut/original road from Kadykchan to Kyubeme (which is very very difficult in summer).

Any help appreciated.

Adrian

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  #2  
Old 18 Jan 2005
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Hi Adrain, I've been researching this area lately, have seen the same things you have, and must say I have not come across an 'all weather' road north of the RoB via Ust-Nera that is better than the regular route. On my maps a minor road ends at Ust coming up from the southeast (could not find Kyubeme on my maps - just west of Tomtor I suspect).
From the topopgraphy, I cant see a better road being available to the north - same drainage problems - so it could be RoB or nothing. As I'm sure you know, the later in the summer the shorter your snorkel need be.

You may have found this site: http://www.yakutiatravel.com/eng/main.htm

In fact I get the impression summer is the worst time to travel on roads in this part of Russia because of rivers, etc, but the only practical time that a bike can hack it. I was talking to a Russian bloke from Baikal region at a travel show on the weekend about riding this route and he recommended doing RoB in April: Yak to Mag in 2-3 days he reckoned because it is all nice and frozen. "only -30 at night and -10 in the day". (I'm not sure that would be sustainable on a bike but it would be an interesting experiment!). Interestingly his 4-litre magnum of vodka was nearly empty by Sunday pm.

Chris S



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  #3  
Old 19 Jan 2005
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Thanks for your post Chris. This area is very hard to find out about. Thanks for the link to Yakutia information - very helpful.

Re: the RoB;

The 2004 Russian Auto Atlas shows an almost complete (i.e non-dotted red-line) from Ust Nera to Kyubeme and this road is labelled the "Kolyma Highway" (rather than the more direct road below it).

The BAM Siberian Rail guide, which I have found very helpful ==>

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...689634-1792852

also has a chapter on the Kolyma Highway and describes the section from Kyubeme to Ust Nera as follows:

"From Kyubeme a winter road, gradually being upgraded to an all weather road, runs direct to Ust-Nera on the upper reaches of the Indigirka river.....the road runs north crossing the creeks and shoulders of the Indigirka, climbing 2 passes at 1,362m and 1,380m. The winter road meets the existing road - which is in good condition - near Elginski. The road continues east towards Ust-Nera".

Interesting feedback on best time to travel. I do recall that winter is considered best, due to frozen rivers and hard surfaces. Many trucks travel at this time. My (limited) understanding is that the only feasible time for bikes is summer, but you need to get your timing right and try to get all rivers etc at lowest levels. My plan is for July (the warmest month here).

Any other info on this topic much appreciated.

Adrian

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  #4  
Old 19 Jan 2005
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Hi again Adrian,

We've corresponded by email about the route west from Magadan versus the more southerly road west from Vladivostok. I plan to ride the more southerly route during the latter half of July. Any chance you would change your mind and join me? I would welcome company!

Mike
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  #5  
Old 20 Jan 2005
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Hi Adrian, as it happens I've just this moment received that BAM guide too - its published by the same guy who does my motorbiking handbook. More here: http://trailblazer-guides.com/books/...n.html/main/25

A nifty little book - p.123 has tips on camping out at minus 50C... Will check out that Russian Atlas in the shops tomorrow. I guess you just got to go there and find out.

Chris S

Later...
Just skimmed through the BAM book and see what you mean about 'new road' round the top. It seems Ust Nera is an active mine town supplied from Magadan and your new road from Ust south to Kyubeme makes sense, as they've stopped maintaining from there east to Kadykchan (the classic RoB section).
None the wiser whether people ride RoB for the crack (passing the coldest spot in the north hemi -71°C) - or dont know about the 'easier' way round the top, (assuming its finished). I guess the Yakutia travel guys would know. C



[This message has been edited by Chris Scott (edited 20 January 2005).]
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  #6  
Old 21 Feb 2005
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Hey Adrian, I just got back from Moscow and have picked up a new different road atlas to the ones mentioned on the the other thread. This one has Magadan region at a scale of 1 : 2,500,000 which sounds more detailed than some of the other atlases (doesnt mean its better).

Heading North and West from Magadan, and following the "northern mining road" for want of a better name, the road is marked as all weather as far as "Elginski", 86km beyond Ust Nera. The road from Elginski to Kyubeme on my map is marked as a winter road, and has no distance markings on it, but looks about 150 klms.

Hope that helps add to the confusion and conflicting reports mate. Drop me a line if you want me to scan the relevant section and pass it on.
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  #7  
Old 23 Jul 2009
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2009 update

Did the road a couple of days ago

Note ... there is no "The" road of bones as the russians do not have a definite article "the". Road of Bones (Doroga na Kostyakh) is a term no longer even used by the Russians (to them its all the Kolymsky Trakt) but refers to the roads that linked Khandyga with Magadan ... all the roads were originally built by Gulag prisoners in the 1930s and 1940s and coincided with the discovery of gold and uranium in the region. To exploit these newly discovered resources, Stalin and Beria sent hundreds of thousand to the Kolyma region and the gulag camps of the Kolyma Ring (The Kolyma Ring is the circuit made by the two eastern most roads in the road of bones network - the two different roads from Magadan to Susuman) Many of thos prisoners worked the gold and uranium mines and the rest made the roads. Those who died were used as landfill for the next section of road - thus the name

The road is in pretty good shape. We did the 2000 km road in just over 3 days and that included 7 flat tyres. One route in particular has now been declared a federal road and a lot of money is being spent on it. As at July 2009:

- The old summer road from Kyubeme to Kadykchan is totally unmaintained and impassable except in August and early September.

- The old winter road (zimnik) from Kyubeme to Ust Nera is now a good thru road. 2009 is the first year thats the case - they have been working on it for a good 5 years or so and now it all connected. Still a few bridges being worked on, but no major hassles.

- Of the two routes from Susuman to Magadan, the westernmost alternative (Tinkinsky Trakt) is the recommended route. The easternmost route (the federal road) is less interesting in terms of scenery and is more heavily trafficked.

- There are definite plans (now that it has federal road status) to bridge the Aldan river at Khandyga, and surveying for construction is already underway to build a railway and road bridge across the Lena at Yakutsk -a project due to be completed within 3-4 years..

- There is 92 octane fuel at Yakutsk, Churapcha, Ytyk-Kuel, Khandyga, Kyubeme (fuel but no town), Ust-Nera, Artik (sometimes), Susuman, Omchak,Ust-Om, Palatka and Magadan, plus I have been told there is 92 octane fuel on the easternmost federal road at Yagodnoye, Orotukan, Akta and Karamken as well.

- stock up on food at Khandyga. There is NOTHING except lovely scenery between Khandyga and Ust-Nera (over 500 km), apart from the fuel station at Kyubeme.

- the fuel critical stretch on this route is Ust Nera to Susuman. The fuel station at Artik sometimes has fuel and sometimes doesnt. If it doesnt, the bikes need to travel 470 km from fuelling in Ust Nera to the fuel depo at Susuman. The road is good gravel and suitable for cruise at any economical speed you fancy ... from 60 - 140 km/h.
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Last edited by colebatch; 13 Oct 2010 at 12:02.
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  #8  
Old 23 Jul 2009
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Hi colebatch sounds like a great trip!!!. did you take the "winter" road?
Interested to hear re the building of roads etc, I know putin had put some money into it, even my relatives near moscow could not get any info about this road, we will plan to bring Landrovers from New Zealand one day and do it as I have the russian family connections etc
Did you see Diesel in the gas stations ie sign like this at the gas stations(as such as they are!!) Д ? from what you say the road/turn on the left when coming North from Susoman near Kadaychan was used by Mc gregor etc but now it is impassable? at this spot:
Google Maps

do you have any photos etc?
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Old 23 Jul 2009
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Cool info, thanks Colebatch!
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  #10  
Old 23 Jul 2009
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Yes we took the old winter road, which has been upgraded.

There is a lot of upgrading of bridges in particular going on. There is diesel in all the gas stations i mentioned (from memory)

A lot more info is on my blog ...top link below, including many fotos of the road. I even have a foto of the marker where the old summer road turns off adjacent to Kadykchan - just for you sir.

The old summer road is not impassible in a 4WD. But will still be difficult at any time of the year except August and early September due to water levels in rivers. A diesel engine helps, if you have a good snorkel ... and a winch in case the current is too strong.

The road McGregor "took" (if you can call it 'taking' ... loading the bikes onto a pre contracted truck for almost 1000 km ) was the old summer road ... I dont know which route they took from Kadykchan to Magadan but can ask my friend in Yakutsk who pre-arranged all the trucks to follow them, if its important.

But for other info and fotos, refer to the latest post in my blog.

Finally, if you want a funky alternative, buy a UAZ 4WD van ... they are just about the only private vehicles moving on these roads ... also known as wazziks, buhankas or hlebobulkas. i used to laught at them, but now i want one. Even the russian 4WD guys love hooning around in their Nissan Patrols and Toyota Landcruisers, but if they have anything serious to do, or the roads are particularly gnarly, they take their Buhanka instead. If you have family connection over here, its easy to get them to buy one and there are outfits in Russia that modify them ... put in beds and what not. The buhanka is really the only thing moving in Yakutia, Tuva, the Pamir etc and other remote places. They look like a joke, but the more you get to know them the more hard core you realise they are. I have grown to love and respect this beast over the last 4 months.

They have over a foot of ground clearance, astounding room in the back (beds will fit across the vehicle) and spare parts here are basically free. A new windscreen for example (And you will go thru a few windscreens on these roads) is $40. Its over 10 times that for new windscreens for Japanese 4WDs and I doubt you will be able to even replace a landrover windscreen in yakutia or somewhere remote. Meaning you just need to hope it all stays together..

2.7 litre petrol 4 cyl engine ... can get injection on the current models but locals mechanics wont know how to fix it if something goes wrong. Stick with the carbed model. Anyone in the FSU in the remotest of remote towns can fix a buhanka and will have parts or be able to salvage them.

Some Buhanka pics










Quote:
Originally Posted by sashadidi View Post
Hi colebatch sounds like a great trip!!!. did you take the "winter" road?
Interested to hear re the building of roads etc, I know putin had put some money into it, even my relatives near moscow could not get any info about this road, we will plan to bring Landrovers from New Zealand one day and do it as I have the russian family connections etc
Did you see Diesel in the gas stations ie sign like this at the gas stations(as such as they are!!) Д ? from what you say the road/turn on the left when coming North from Susoman near Kadaychan was used by Mc gregor etc but now it is impassable? at this spot:
Google Maps

do you have any photos etc?
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Last edited by colebatch; 28 Jul 2009 at 10:29.
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Old 23 Jul 2009
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thanks very much for that, much appreciated, Yes the UAZ are a machine, my wifes cousin has the Kamaz(over 20 years old) like mcgregor rented but bigger and drives from western Russia to Uzbekistan in it for a job, he thinks its done near 1 million miles, they pull them down around every two to three years and they just keep going and going, I really like them I even tried to see about importing one into New Zealand but as you can imagine not allowed to be registered but could use it on the farm etc. I liked the idea that you could put in the landrover in the back and drive across the rivers!!!. I will look at your blog with great interest, Another relative is a river guide in the Altai and is up to speed on the trucks also.
they can operate in the real cold where the landrovers, toyota etc would snap metal in the cold
thanks again
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Old 23 Jul 2009
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Turnoff for old suummer road

This marker is on the main track adjacent to the Abandoned city of kadykchan (about 2km away on the left from this foto). The start of the old summer road is completely unsignposted on the eastern end and you WILL have trouble finding it. To make it easier, find this marker at Kadykchan, and its the small track heading off across the road.



The start of the old summer road (from the eastern end) looks like this:


As you can see, the road itself is no problem, its just the water levels at the river crossings that are an issue in June and July.
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Last edited by colebatch; 26 Jul 2009 at 12:24.
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Old 24 Jul 2009
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much appreciated, you blog is fantastic, can you speak russian? r u still in magadan? here is the local FWD club
ôîðóì NORD TROPHY - Ãëàâíàÿ ñòðàíèöà
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Old 24 Jul 2009
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yes i speak pretty decent russian

no not in magadan - flew out this mrng

yes I am in good contact wih nord trophy, the guys there helped us get the bikes out of Magadan. Had sushi with them 2 nights ago.

You also should get in contact with the mamont 4wd club in in Yakutsk. Their address is on the links on the rhs of my web site.
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Old 24 Jul 2009
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Thanks for the info re FWD club, I will look there, I do like the idea of the UAZ
good name for them "Buhanka" like square loaf!!! they do look like it. UAZ would have advantages for sure, not sure if other NZ people would like the idea though, they really want to do the summer road, to me it looks like Zaire in the old days with the road conditions!!
You really did so well, sounds like it did not take so longas the summer road!!!
will study your blog with interest
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