We have completed the 2nd Expedition of THE LAST ICE project, which has led us to cross Lake ONEGA, in European Russia
A total of 6 days to complete 150Km in total self-sufficiency, leaving from the northernmost point of the lake, in the town of Medvezhyegorsk, to reach the island of Kizhi, declared a World Heritage Site by its more than 80 Orthodox churches built during various centuries, all of wood and without using a single nail.
For each stage we did between 22Km (the shortest) and 35Km (the longest), except the last one, in which we only covered the 2Km that separated the mini island where we camped from our final destination (Kizhi Island), where camping is forbidden.
Curiously, the hardest part of the expedition has come hand in hand with the weather factor, but contrary to what one might think, not because of the extreme cold in an area near the arctic polar circle, but on the contrary, because of the excessive good temperature for a month of March. We had a very variable weather, with total absence of sun in the 6 days, but with frequent wind, snow, and rain in three stages. And having rain at this time of year in Lake Onega is something really abnormal, and as we have seen, a clear trend in recent years, being a clear consequence of the climate change that we are experiencing.
And precisely this rain and the humidity that these temperatures provoqued in the lake caused us a great discomfort to have almost always our clothes, sleeping bag and tent really wet, with a worse thermal sensation than having a more extreme and drier cold. At the same time that it made the snow very wet and heavy, while it flooded in many sections, making it difficult for us to advance through the lake.
We prefer moving forward and living at temperatures below 10, 20 or 30 degrees permanently, than being between -10 and + 10ºC, because although it may seem strange, it makes the general conditions harder and more uncomfortable.
According to all the experts in this type of crossings in the European Arctic area, March is the best time, however we are almost sure that if we had more sun, the melting of the lake would have been even worse and we could not have completed the route because of the risk that would entail. We would clearly advise other possible expedition members to advance the dates to adapt to the new climatic conditions in the area.
Curiously, the temperature increases are being more pronounced in the areas of half Europe up, than in the southern part of the continent. What happens is that in the north it is very cold, with the change of temperatures it is still very cold but not so much and the thing does not seem so serious, while in the south the effect is more direct in the lack of snow and episodes of drought, but in the medium and long term, the consequences of the melting of lakes, rivers, seas and the permafrost of the border zone with the Arctic, will involve a great global problem that we must know and try to mitigate as much as possible.
It is exciting to be able to carry out such remote adventures and to remain really isolated in the middle of nature, but at the same time it is also a bit sad to see the serious climatic changes and their consequences in these areas, and to think that in the very near future it will no longer be able to do this kind of activities because, simply, the place we have gone through will no longer be frozen. This has already happened with Lake LADOGA, the largest in Euripe and a little further south of Onega, which was freezing totally until about 50 years ago, and now only freezes at some specific points. Now the largest lake in Europe that freezes is the ONEGA, and we have crossed it; But until when will it freeze?
With these expeditions we want to leave you testimony of our passion for nature and for this type of adventures, while also leaving testimony of the “in situ” effects of Climate Change and the need to commit ourselves much more in the fight against this great challenge for the good of the entire planet.
Now we are starting to work on the next project expedition, to cross the BAIKAL lake, the largest in Asia; at the same time that we are also projecting the North Pole project for 2020 or 2021.
From the THE LAST ICE project, we continue exploring for a sustainable future.