On 10 February, eight travellers set out on a two month odyssey covering 4,000 km through some of the world's most inhospitable terrain.
Where is our food? Two members of the expedition gaze through the ice of Lower Taymyr river. Picture: Irina Moroz
In two GAZ-33081 'Yeger' trucks, they are marking the 70th anniversary of conquering Cape Chelyuskin, the northernmost point in the Eurasian continent, and the 100th anniversary of discovery of the Northern Land Archipelago.
We catch up with them driving over the ice on Lake Taimyr on 1 March, with cracks appearing on their frozen road, holes large enough to swallow their trucks - and polar bears threatening them too.
This is the diary of Dmitry Kulik from Tyumen, the expedition's organiser.
Let me in! Dmitry Kulik from Tyumen, the expedition's organiser, is pictured during the very first days of the journey. Picture: Irina Moroz
1 March: We are at Lake Taimyr Lake! Almost the 74th parallel.
Today was the worst day since the start of our journey. It snows without stopping, we are going on an azimuth through the tundra, and the place are very hilly: first a hill, then a ditch, then a slope and a hill again.
The temperature is minus 36C to minus 38C, the wind is very strong, I think more than 15 m/s.
You can see absolutely nothing, only a milk veil. A man can easily be knocked down during wind gusts, the car door - nearly broken.
We had problems with (fuel) injection: the vehicle refused to start. But we won.
We stayed the night at a fishing base, right on the ice. There were two fishermen who treated us to fish of all varieties: fresh, salted, roast, cooked.
They said that already for two days polar bears have been stalking their base. So now they almost do not go outside, or if they need to, then it is together, so the second person is ready to cover the first with a weapon) if the beast attacks. Ok, so now we also need to be extremely cautious.
You can see absolutely nothing, only a milk veil. A man can easily be knocked down during wind gusts, the car door - nearly broken. Picture: Irina Moroz
Sasha Elkin says that since we are treated to such a variety of fish dishes, and we're talking about polar bears, then we must be in the Arctic!
Tomorrow we plan to move in the direction of Lower Taymyr, passing the frozen lake. We'll see how it goes.
There have already been some cracks in the ice, not that big actually, some 35-40 cm. But fishermen say that there are considerably bigger cracks on the lake. You cannot see them from a distance, but only before they appear in front of the wheels. When it snows you need to look very carefully and go slowly.
A big hello to everyone!
After carefully negotiating the lake, we finally got out onto the (frozen) Lower Taimyr River.
These are unbelievably beautiful landscapes: the combination of the mountain gorge and a very wild and impetuous river! And you can feel the river's character every inch of the way: the ice blocks are literally dancing under the wheels mixed with cracks a few metres wide cracks and with massive gaps ready to swallow the whole our trucks.
Everyone had to leave the trucks: the men and girls walked, leading the way. Sasha and I carefully manoeuvred between ridges and cracks while holding the door open to be able to leap out if needed. Picture: Irina Moroz
Everyone had to leave the trucks: the men and girls walked, leading the way. Sasha and I carefully manoeuvred between ridges and cracks while holding the door open to be able to leap out if needed.
It was actually scary: we've seen this for the first time in our lives.
You feel simultaneous delight of seeing the surrounding icy white landscape and horror of the icy abyss while being literally on the edge. Add to that the strong wind, that lifted the snow dust dropping visibility to zero at times.
Now we make camp to stay up for the night. It darkens and becomes very dangerous to move. By evening, the wind dropped, the sky cleared, and once again we can see the Northern Lights - each time it is wider and bigger, bewitching us with its beauty.
Started early in the morning at 6 am. The riverbed is stuck with snow, the ice hummocks are of an incredible size, so we are moving slowly, the shovel has become our best friend; in the afternoon we got to the spot where the ice-bed is wider.
Now we left the river and are in the Taimyr Bay of the Kara Sea. Finally we crossed the 76th parallel.
Today is only the second day since the beginning of our expedition when we did not have to put on our mechanics overalls and repair our vehicles.
We have the peninsula in front of us.
Locals say that if you see a deer then the bears are somewhere close; girls asked to lock truck for the night - just in case. Pictures: Irina Moroz
Tomorrow we'll decide how to proceed: whether to go along the perimeter of the peninsula or by land, cutting our path across.
The ice conditions are very difficult: the ice hummocks near the shore are very high, almost impossible for our vehicles but if we dive further into the sea, there is a high risk of thin ice. Yet on land we would have problems with mountain and difficult terrain to cross.
The weather is not stable either: minus 35C on average, but the wind is still strong.
Before lunch there was 'the milk veil', but later it cleared up and the sun came out. The wind does not stop, you can feel the wind even in the truck.
Still, it is just about do-able in the sleeping bags, we do not freeze:)
We saw a lot of animal tracks, and even met a herd of wild deer.
Local people say that if you see a deer then the bears are somewhere close. The girls asked to lock truck for the night - just in case.
Though in the milk veil, in which we met the deer, the bears would find it truly hard to see us.
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