Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Adventurers Complete First Circumnavigation of Lake Baikal in Winter by Motorbike

Awhile back, two adventurers complete a journey through one of the coldest environments on Earth when they circumnavigated Lake Baikal in Siberia by motorbike in the dead of winter. The expedition was undertaken as an exploratory mission for a potential new extreme trip sponsored by The Adventurists, but also to raise funds for charity, and to prove that it could be done.

Matt Prior, Dennis Malone, and a team of other crazy travelers embarked on the 2000 km (1242 mile) journey around the frozen lake beginning and ending in Irkutsk, Russia. It didn't take them long to discover what they were in for, as they faced temperatures that plunged below -30ºC/-22ºF, as they battled winds that approached 80 mph (128 km/h). That would be challenging enough under any circumstances, but to do it on a motorcycle is unthinkable.

Located deep in Siberia, Baikal is the largest and deepest lake on the planet. It covers more than 31,000 square kilometers (12,248 sq. mi), and plunges to a depth of 1642 meters (5387 ft). It is also know for its extreme weather, which is owed much to its location. The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1996 due to its value as a natural resource.

Despite the harsh conditions, it was actually an unseasonably warm winter along the lake, which made ice conditions challenging at times. Matt and Dennis had to cautiously move forward at points, as certain sections weren't even safe for walking, let alone driving a motorcycle. At one point, one of the bikes even broke down, forcing major repair work to be done in the field in order to keep moving forward. It didn't help much that the motorcycle was a vintage Russian Ural with a sidecar that was left over from World War II.

Despite the challenges, the expedition – which was sponsored by GoPro, Klim, and Powertraveller – was a success in more ways than one. The duo managed to raise funds for some important charities, including Help for Heroes, Soldier On, Plan UK, and Cool Earth.

If the name Matt Prior sounds familiar, it's because I've written about his initiative to launch the Adventure Academy in the past. That is his brilliant idea of providing would-be adventurers with the skills they need to launch their own expeditions by taking them on a journey that is equal parts learning experience and cultural immersion. You can learn more about the concept in the video below.

Congrats to Matt and Dennis on completing this Siberian odyssey.


Matt Prior Adventure Academy Main Promo from Matt Prior Adventure Academy on Vimeo.

3 comments:

Louis-Philippe LONCKE said...

Can you tell these guys, just in case they didn't know.
4 Frenchman (including 1 woman) did the 2000km circumnavigation in 2005.

OK, not motorcycles but Russian sidecars. Actually because they did it in March, they ended near spring and the ice started to break under them. The minivan behind them (see photo trapped in the ice) was carrying 200 bottles of French wine. The drank it with locals at each stop.

I saw the documentary in October 2005. It was a great film.

Also, even if they did it in the dead of winter (JAnuary?), I doubt no Russian has done that before. They drive all winter on the lake, it's very common.

http://www.lescinqcontinents.com/infos/index.php?2008/11/03/195-lac-baikal-visions-de-coureurs-de-taiga-de-sylvain-tesson-et-thomas-goisque-transboreal-2008

http://www.miollis.com/Site/Presse/Pages/Aventures_vecues_1.html#7
http://www.miollis.com/Site/Presse/Pages/Aventures_vecues_1.html#8

Kraig Becker said...

Your comments will certainly let them know Lou-Phi. They'll see this post for sure.

This was a good adventure, and a challenge for sure, but there are also a lot of qualifiers for calling this a "first."
It sounds like conditions were very challenging, and doing it on an old motorcycle adds some character though.

Your movie guru, Richard said...

Lol circumnavigated Baikal, that took awhile! I went on an 18km hike around the (a tiny part of) the lake. Dangerous Trekking Around Lake Baikal- the world's largest body of fresh water hope you enjoy my pics and story man. Cheers! Amazing job on the bikes!