The Baikal 2010 Expedition - A Hard Day

We try to walk as many miles as possible every day so we walk till dark - every minute we walk, we’re closer to the other side of Baikal. ”Oh no...not again...,” was my first thought right after I woke up. I can see and hear as well that another fierce storm is shaking violently with our tent.
2. 3. 2010 Photos: 30

To spend another day hidden in the tent is out of question. We don’t have time for that so we have to brace our energies and prepare ourselves for a hard day. It’s especially difficult to leave the warm sleeping bag for a cold tent today if we know that we are going to spend the whole day in a fierce cold wind. But, what else we can do? :-) We boil water for our thermos bottles and Pavel plucks up the courage and leaves the tent first. The only good news is that there’s no snowstorm today, just the wind, so we’ll at least see where we’re going. We put on the most heavy duty clothes we have here as we realize that in such a wind we could easily end up with some nasty frostbites. I put a thick balaclava over my head and add a mask over my face - once again we look like gorillas :-) We put on ourselves almost everything we have and are ready to set off.

It’s not an easy thing to do to pack our stuff in the strong wind. We feel like being surrounded by thousands of tiny dwarfs which fight with us for everything we have trying to steal it from us. A moment of hesitation and you’ll never see your things again. Packing of the tent is especially risky. We have to lay over it with our full weight to hold it on the ground and only then we manage to stuck it in the bag. Finally we have everything safely packed in the sleds and can set out. The sky is grey and dusky and the wind blows against us. Every step is difficult and we literally fight our way through the slowly. Those two sleds behind me has turned into a pair of malicious “sailboat” which is almost impossible to pull against the wind. Through the narrow peephole of my goggles I catch a glimpse of more and more fields of deep snow...it won’t make it easier for us either. We have to be careful not to get sweaty too much today - we put a warm down jackets over our usual hard shell which means that it’s functional membrane does not work as it’s hermetically closed within the down jackets. We’re like astronauts in their space suits. The only opening in our “shell” is below our noses to let out the vapors we breath out. It crossed my mind that there’s a difference of some 80 °C between the temperature inside of our clothes and outside, on the surface of our jackets.

We walked slowly for an hour and then it’s time for the first snack. This was really bad as we had to took off our balaclavas for a moment. We cowered behind our sleds and removed our face masks quickly - just insomuch that we were able to have some hot energy drink and gulp down a little snack. Then, with our mouths still full we hurriedly put our face masks and balaclavas back on. There’s no one here to tell you what to do or give you advice on how to survive in the conditions we have here - our experience is the only thing we have...and we know that to stay warm is one of the crucial things. We fought with fierce winds for every step we made today and I, hidden in my own tiny world behind my goggles, was asking myself why the hell am I doing it...? Why am I here in the cold and wind if I could be home, safe and warm... Do you want to know why? Just because... because of the love of ice, frozen barren lands and adventure, I guess! I know, it probably sounds weird to some of us but I’m sure there’s someone who understands my passion... at least Pavel is one of those people :-)

At about 2 p.m. I feel like I’ve had enough, I’m fed up with the wind and I bet that Pavel feels the same. As I struggle to make my way against the wind, crazy stuff sometimes cross my mind and today I begun to wonder about a way how to get rid of the wind...I was desperate, you know :-) And then all of a sudden it occurred to me what we have to do - we are in an area where most of the things is governed by shamans and spirits so we need to ask them for a help! I quietly pronounced my plea for better weather but I think I don’t know how to do these things properly as nothing had happened. Only later I realized what I’d done wrong - we have to offer them a sacrifice. It makes perfect sense as nothing is for free, not even miracles :-) So I made my offering - we give them a double portion of breakfast oatmeal (as we’re not able to eat these) everyday. We originally wanted to bring them back, gift wrap them and send them to our nutritionist as a generous gift but to soothe the spirits is of a higher importance :-) I should make it clear that except for the oatmeal we have no problems with the diet the nutritionist set for us - once we got used to it, there’s nothing to complain about (just the oatmeal...). It seems that the spirits heard us as it stopped blowing 15 minutes after I made the offering! Or were we just lucky? I don’t know but when the weather calmed down, we speeded up to make up for the slowly morning. We set up the tent at dusk. Now, when I’m writing this, the storm is back and at full strength. But we’re not worried, we have the oatmeal for tomorrow ready at hand...:-)

PS : What do we say on the video? PAVEL: "So this is how it looks like when it gets windy in Siberia...noisy, the tent's shaking violently, I can barely hear what I say. Vašku, anything to add?" VASEK: "I hope the tent will stay with us till the morning...it's terrible here." PAVEL: "Well, that's it for today! See you!"

Ve stanu při vichřici / From inside of the tent from Pavel Blažek on Vimeo.

2. 3. 2010

Back to summary