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.