Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Ride Tales, Trip Reports and Stories > 4 Wheels Travel Reports
4 Wheels Travel Reports Post your overland travel reports for a weekend trip or around the world. Please make the first words of the title WHERE the trip is. Please do NOT just post a link to your site. For a link, see Get a Link.
Photo by Hubert Kriegel, of Jean-Louis Grauby, Dades Gorge, Morocco, during the 8th year of 'thetimelessride'. Ten years on the road on his 2008 Ural Sportsman

Adventure is what you make it

Photo by Hubert Kriegel, of Jean-Louis Grauby, Dades Gorge, Morocco, during the 8th year of 'thetimelessride'. Ten years on the road on his 2008 Ural Sportsman.



Like Tree40Likes

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 1 Jun 2018
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Brunei
Posts: 928
Russia winter 2018: Magadan, Kolyma, Yakutia, Baikal, Siberia, Arctic, Yamalo-Nenets.

I received a good bit of advice on preparing for a winter trip from a few members on this website, so I wanted to share a brief report of my trip.

The plan:

To drive the conventional route across Russia (with a side-trip down to Vladivostok) in summer / autumn 2017 and arrive in Magadan in mid October. Then return in the middle of winter, using ice roads, frozen rivers and generally trying to avoid using the same route as taken on the outward trip.

The vehicle:

I wanted a strong Toyota 4x4 with a manual transmission and a straight 4, 16 valve, fuel injected petrol engine. This is not an easy set of criteria to fill, but in November 2015 I managed to buy a seriously rare 1996 Toyota Hilux Surf. It was in terrible condition, so a lot of weekends were spent on a total engine rebuild, total replacement of all suspension components, and various other bits. I needed the car to be in perfect condition. I put foil-backed foam insulation behind every internal panel, under the carpet and under the head-lining. I fitted a 2kW Eberspacher Airtronic cabin heater running from a separate internal battery and diesel tank. The engine was running on 0W20 synthetic oil with 2:1 antifreeze mixture. All transmission and axle oils fully synthetic. All external rubber components were replaced prior to leaving. The rear seats were removed and a space-frame luggage rack / sleeping platform bolted down so as to have a heated, insulated sleeping space. I was running Yokohama IceGuard studless snow tyres which were fantastic. Extra fuel capacity consisted of 5x 22 litre petrol cans.


The journey:

My first week in Magadan was spent doing final preparations such as blanking the radiator with insulation, insulating the engine and battery. I also had time to take the truck on it's first run of the year....



...out on the sea ice of the Sea of Okhotsk.

Then after a side trip to Kamchatka, I headed out onto the Kolyma Highway. Two week earlier the temperature was around -48º C but a cyclone came over and temperatures were barely above freezing when leaving Magadan. Just after Ust Nera however, I outran the cyclone and was into the winter wonderland I had been dreaming of seeing for so many years:



Kolyma Highway, between Ust Nera and Kyubeme



On the gorgeous road to Oymyakon...



...meet a friendly reindeer herd.

It took a week to reach Yakutsk, which was pretty cold at -38º C mid-day temperature. Nice city though.



Then the real adventure began: The Lena River Ice Road. This was the toughest drive I have ever done. From Ulakahn-An about an hour south-west of Yakutsk, the ice road starts. It's 1200 kilometres to Peleduy, and from memory maybe 800 of these are on the frozen river itself.



This is the best bit: it got way, way worse. At times the snow had covered the tracks. In other places there was a phenomenon known as naled in Russian, where a thin crust of ice forms on top of liquid water on the main ice body, which is very dangerous for trucks. In other places the ice had heaved up towards the bank and the ice road was steeply cambered and covered in snow; speed was the only way through!

On the last section, from Lensk to Peleduy, I teamed up with a local (who had one eye) as the conditions were getting bad (blizzards and deep snow on top of cambered ice).



With some relief I reached Peleduy; but now the problems would become logistical. The only road to Peleduy is privately owned, and requires a permit to travel on. I however tried my luck, and after a bit of talking with the bored security guards at the checkpoint, I got an escort through the Talakan oil base. Then it's 100 kilometres on an access road which joins the public Ust-Kut to Mirny zimnik (ice road). This presented a new danger; the trucks had created deep grooves in the frozen ground which were much wider than my axle width, meaning a lot of sliding. Fine when there's nobody around but hair-raising when overtaking.



After two days, I finally reach Ust-Kut and get onto the BAM road, which here is wide and easy. It's a spectacular drive across the pass to Severobaikalsk however:



Severobaikalsk is truly one of the nicest towns I have been to in Russia; not for the town itself but for the stunning location at the top of Lake Baikal, which is magnificent in winter (and summer!). There is a short asphalt road from Sevrobaikalsk to Baikalskoye, where I found some tracks heading south on the lake:



It was a bit early in the season to be out on the ice, but it was nice and thick. Only problem was that there was more snow than I would have liked, and some rather large cracks. I jumped over this one. The lake is 800 metres deep at this point!



After 223 kilometres I reached Ust-Barguzin on the east coast of the lake (a wonderful area to explore in summer / autumn). From here there is a newly surfaced asphalt road all the way to Ulan Ude, though as I was heading west I turned off early and drove over the Selenge River onto the Trans-Siberian Highway at Ilinka.
__________________
EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 1 Jun 2018
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Brunei
Posts: 928
From Irkutsk I took the Trans-Siberian Highway further to Marinsk, then headed north to Tomsk, which I would say is the nicest city in Siberia, certainly in terms of architecture. I then drove along the Ob, stopping in the beautiful village of Prokop, from where one can drive on a short ice-road to Narym, where Stalin was briefly exiled.



Not far beyond Prokop, at Kargasok, the highway ends and it's onto another ice road; this one across the Vasyugan Swamp, the largest in Eurasia:



This ice road leads up to the Ob River pontoon crossing in Strezhevoy, from where I entered Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region (KhMAO), Russia's main oil-producing region. After a rest day in Surgut I continued north into Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region (YNAO), passing through Novy Urengoy where by chance I met an alumnus from my university, who drove me up to the Arctic Circle and showed me some of the drilling and production operations, which are very impressive. I love these Russian 6x6 trucks (especially when I got stuck and had to be pulled out by one!):



West of Novy Urengoy is Nadym and beyond another zimnik, following the remains of the Trans-Polar Railway, Project 501, one of the most brutal forced-labour projects of Stalin's GULag system. The rails are largely left intact, and where the winds scours the snow away, you can see them in this Arctic wilderness:



More chilling are the numerous lagpunkti (camps) which have been abandoned since the mid-1950s. Here are the dreaded 'punishment isolators' which any reader of Solzhenitsyn or Shalamov will recognise:



The end of the ice road brings one to Salekhard, capital of YNAO, exactly on the Arctic Circle, with views across the Ob to the Polar Urals; the easternmost point of Europe (still as far east as Samarkand or Islamabad).



Here I had some local contacts who took me out on an ice road, then on a snowmobile to spend a night with some indigenous Khanty reindeer herders, in a chum (conical nomad tent), which was an unforgettable experience:





Returning to Salekhard, I was down with food poisoning for a couple of days, but this was a blessing in disguise as, on my final day, I was awed by a fantastic display of the aurora borealis, the northern lights:



Then, time for the final zimnik, up the Ob from Lyabitnangi to Priobye:



Here's the end of the zimnik in Priobye...



...from here it was a pretty dull drive of around 3500 kilometres to reach Moscow.

Conclusion:

Distance from Magadan to Moscow: 13,875 km
Lowest Temperature: -45º C
Lowest cold-start: -31º C
Number of breakdowns: 0
Number of minor issues: 0

This was the realisation of a dream, following a lot of planning and preparation. Russia in winter is a whole different experience!

In time, I will write this adventure up fully on my website (below). For now, there are more photos on my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/EurasiaOverland/

Or on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eurasi...57695048577031

If anyone is planning a winter Russia trip, I'd be happy to help. There is very little information on these ice roads online in English!

Cheers

EO
__________________
EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 2 Jun 2018
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Netherlands
Posts: 377
Really nice!! And the crack was quite exciting!

Just departed on our trip through Eurasia but in summer.
Already looking forward to doing a winter trip into Scandinavia on a time after this trip. Driving ice roads is really a nice achievement.
In terms of an experience, but also the driving itself.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 26 Jun 2018
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 141
Thank you very much for posting.
Great ride.
Nailed my wish to go in winter into Russia too.
Lets see what I can do on two wheels........
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 27 Jun 2018
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Brunei
Posts: 928
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbla View Post
Thank you very much for posting.
Great ride.
Nailed my wish to go in winter into Russia too.
Lets see what I can do on two wheels........
Hi Bubbla

I'm not the type to tell people not to do things, but having done this trip in a nice warm car, I can't imagine doing it on a bike. It was hard to keep the car under control at times, with good snow tyres. You'd have to have some pretty amazing tyres to have any measure of safety on a bike. I saw NO other bikes out at all in all the weeks it took to do this trip. It would be so easy to fall, and if you have an injury and are immobile, you have hours to live in these temperatures.

There were some French guys trying to cycle the Kolyma Highway whilst I was there. Their tyres cracked and fell apart. They had to be rescued by car (luckily there is plenty of traffic on the Kolyma Highway).

Maybe a sidecar would be possible. The guys on the 'Ice Run' have done short stretched of this trip on Urals. But not in -40º C.

Let me know if I can help,

EO
__________________
EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 28 Jun 2018
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 141
Hej EO,

never had the idea to ride the same route.

But...
met a russian biker who rode the Kolyma in winter to Magadan with some buddies.
They attached a simple subframe with a third wheel.
Followed by a UAZ van as a back up.

Karolis Mieliauskas from Lithuania did a ride on frozen Lake Baikal in 2017 (see report on FB).

Helen Lloyd cycled from Irkutsk to Magadan in winter 2015 (helenstakeon dot com).

Of course rider and bike needs to be prepared for the cold.
But from heated gear for the rider up to special made soft winter tires for the bike there is all kind of equipment you can use. To ship the bike by train is also common, easy and cheap in Russia. Using the Trans Siberian or the Baikal Amur can take you to a lot of spots in Russia.

I agree that there is a limit of temperature. From personal experience I see my limit of traveling at -20 up to max. 150 km per day. Lived 10 years in Scandinavia and used to ride in winter.

Just wanted to point out the possibilities on 2wheels in winter.
Do not see a chance for anyone to do something like your ride on 2 or 3 wheels.
Great achievment even in a car, lots of respect.

Looks like you are still on the road - travel safe!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 27 Jul 2018
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Humberston
Posts: 52
Kudos to you

Yet again another brilliant trip report with excellent photos. I have done the UK to Magadan and back in the summer but I take my hat off to you for the winter trip. But it goes to show you don't need the latest Land Cruiser I did mine in an old 4Runner.


Boycie
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 4 Aug 2018
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Brunei
Posts: 928
Hi Boycie

Thanks for your response, this was one hell of a trip indeed. I'm trying to wean myself off going to Russia, but the thrill and emptiness of the winter is addictive.

I'm not sure if it was you, but I do remember years ago seeing a thread with a 4Runner reaching Magadan, I think there was a nice picture of it taken on a cliff above the sea, was it you?

Right now planning a Middle East trip for next year... so need to get the AC reinstated

Cheers

EO
__________________
EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 17 Sep 2018
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 141
Interesting project to reach the coldest point on earth by motorbike in winter.
Start will be February 2019 in Yakutsk.
Check: www dot thecoldestride dot com
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 23 Sep 2018
N.T.A's Avatar
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: CANADA
Posts: 3
Really nice ride !
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 25 Sep 2018
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Dubai, UAE
Posts: 206
Thank you for sharing!
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 29 Oct 2018
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 37
This is awesome. Great photos!!! What an experience ! I am planning to go from Magadan to Moscow on my Honda AT in 2020. In Summer ! Wouldn't mind being on a tour from Magadan to Vlad, just to keep me on timeframe if I need repairs etc, but they all seem to go the other way... ?
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 29 Oct 2018
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Brunei
Posts: 928
Quote:
Originally Posted by crlyn View Post
This is awesome. Great photos!!! What an experience ! I am planning to go from Magadan to Moscow on my Honda AT in 2020. In Summer ! Wouldn't mind being on a tour from Magadan to Vlad, just to keep me on timeframe if I need repairs etc, but they all seem to go the other way... ?
Thanks for your comment.

I'm afraid I don't have any experience with tours, but you are correct; there is a small tourism scene based in Yakutsk, but very little in Magadan. I doubt you will find anyone to accompany you to Vladivostok to be honest. Buttry contacting my friends at Magadan Tourist Information: Magadan

Magadan is actually a very nice little city and in a spectacularly wild and far-flung location. People are very friendly and helpful. The same goes along the highway. It's a good graded road and if you encounter problems, people will stop and help you. There is not much traffic, but you certainly will not be alone.

Good Luck

EO
__________________
EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 29 Oct 2018
Registered Users
HUBB regular
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Adelaide, Australia
Posts: 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by eurasiaoverland View Post
Thanks for your comment.

I'm afraid I don't have any experience with tours, but you are correct; there is a small tourism scene based in Yakutsk, but very little in Magadan. I doubt you will find anyone to accompany you to Vladivostok to be honest. Buttry contacting my friends at Magadan Tourist Information: Magadan

Magadan is actually a very nice little city and in a spectacularly wild and far-flung location. People are very friendly and helpful. The same goes along the highway. It's a good graded road and if you encounter problems, people will stop and help you. There is not much traffic, but you certainly will not be alone.

Good Luck

EO
Thank you... So can you please clarify... There is a 'good road/highway' AND the road of bones? (and the old summer road?)???

Sent from my G8141 using Tapatalk
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 29 Oct 2018
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Brunei
Posts: 928
Quote:
Originally Posted by crlyn View Post
Thank you... So can you please clarify... There is a 'good road/highway' AND the road of bones? (and the old summer road?)???

Sent from my G8141 using Tapatalk
There is the main highway, R504: Magadan - Susuman - Ust Nera - Khandyga - Yakutsk. This is an excellent graded (unpaved) road, no technical challenge in summer.

There is the Old Summer Road, which I have never tried. This starts at a junction near the ghost town of Kadykchan and runs to Tomtor and close to Oymyakon. From Tomtor to the main highway is fine (I drove it twice in winter), the rest is basically tracks, very infrequently used, and not maintained.

There is also the Tenkin Highway, which cuts the corner on Susman, linking Madaun (north of Magadan) via Ust Omchak and Omchug (sic - I can't stop this stupid emoticon appearing) to a junction close to wha tused to be the town of Bolshevik. It's a beautiful route, more winding than the main highway but also in great condition. Lots of mine traffic. You can also visit the Uranium Gulag at Butugychag from this route. Recommended.

Hope this is clear.
__________________
EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Kolyma Highway / Yakutia Jan / Feb 2018 heading West eurasiaoverland Travellers Seeking Travellers 0 18 Oct 2017 06:37
2015 - Heading east from Europe, add your itinerary / plans kim Travellers Seeking Travellers 190 5 Mar 2016 07:38

 
 

Announcements

Thinking about traveling? Not sure about the whole thing? Watch the HU Achievable Dream Video Trailers and then get ALL the information you need to get inspired and learn how to travel anywhere in the world!

Have YOU ever wondered who has ridden around the world? We did too - and now here's the list of Circumnavigators!
Check it out now
, and add your information if we didn't find you.

Next HU Eventscalendar

HU Event and other updates on the HUBB Forum "Traveller's Advisories" thread.
ALL Dates subject to change.

2023:

2024:

  • California: April 18-21
  • Virginia: April 25-28
  • Germany Summer: May
  • CanWest: July 11-14
  • Switzerland: August
  • Romania: August
  • Ecuador: September
  • France: September
  • Austria: September 12-15
  • Queensland: Oct 4-7
  • Germany Autumn: Nov.

Add yourself to the Updates List for each event!

Questions about an event? Ask here

HUBBUK: info

See all event details

 
World's most listened to Adventure Motorbike Show!
Check the RAW segments; Grant, your HU host is on every month!
Episodes below to listen to while you, err, pretend to do something or other...

2020 Edition of Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook.

2020 Edition of Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook.

"Ultimate global guide for red-blooded bikers planning overseas exploration. Covers choice & preparation of best bike, shipping overseas, baggage design, riding techniques, travel health, visas, documentation, safety and useful addresses." Recommended. (Grant)



Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance.

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ combines into a single integrated program the best evacuation and rescue with the premier travel insurance coverages designed for adventurers.

Led by special operations veterans, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, paramedics and other travel experts, Ripcord is perfect for adventure seekers, climbers, skiers, sports enthusiasts, hunters, international travelers, humanitarian efforts, expeditions and more.

Ripcord travel protection is now available for ALL nationalities, and travel is covered on motorcycles of all sizes!


 

What others say about HU...

"This site is the BIBLE for international bike travelers." Greg, Australia

"Thank you! The web site, The travels, The insight, The inspiration, Everything, just thanks." Colin, UK

"My friend and I are planning a trip from Singapore to England... We found (the HU) site invaluable as an aid to planning and have based a lot of our purchases (bikes, riding gear, etc.) on what we have learned from this site." Phil, Australia

"I for one always had an adventurous spirit, but you and Susan lit the fire for my trip and I'll be forever grateful for what you two do to inspire others to just do it." Brent, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the (video) series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring!" Jennifer, Canada

"Your worldwide organisation and events are the Go To places to for all serious touring and aspiring touring bikers." Trevor, South Africa

"This is the answer to all my questions." Haydn, Australia

"Keep going the excellent work you are doing for Horizons Unlimited - I love it!" Thomas, Germany

Lots more comments here!



Five books by Graham Field!

Diaries of a compulsive traveller
by Graham Field
Book, eBook, Audiobook

"A compelling, honest, inspiring and entertaining writing style with a built-in feel-good factor" Get them NOW from the authors' website and Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk.



Back Road Map Books and Backroad GPS Maps for all of Canada - a must have!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80G/S.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events all over the world with the help of volunteers; we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, or ask questions on the HUBB. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.




All times are GMT +1. The time now is 01:46.