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The world’s most amazing highways, along frozen Siberian rivers

By The Siberian Times reporter
25 December 2017

Trucks thunder across the ice, overtaking just like this was a normal motorway - but it’s not.

Oil tanker driver Vladimir Kirillin speeding across the ice with a 20 ton load on his journey to supplying outlying areas. Picture: The Siberian Times

Would you risk it? 

Driving for long distances over frozen rivers, the ice between 80 centimetres and two metres thick?

These roads are crucial to supplying remote villages and towns in some of the remotest Siberian regions. 

Our amazing video shows oil tanker driver Vladimir Kirillin speeding across the ice with a 20 ton load on his journey to supplying outlying areas.

Winter road


Winter road

These roads are crucial to supplying remote villages and towns in some of the remotest Siberian regions. Pictures: The Siberian Times

His route, along a stretch of the Lena, the 11th longest river in the world, is, as he tells us, potentially treacherous. 

Join him in his cabin with barely 1.5 metres of frozen ice between him and disaster.

At places on his journey the river is some 30 metres deep. 

At one point on this stretch from Yakutsk to Nizhny Bestyakh another truck overtakes him as if this was any other highway, showing the huge strength of the ice.

Winter road


Winter road


Winter road


Winter road

At one point on this stretch from Yakutsk to Nizhny Bestyakh another truck overtakes him as if this was any other highway, showing the huge strength of the ice. Pictures: The Siberian Times

These motorways are the lifeblood of Siberia in the deep winter, and the drivers are undoubtedly Russia’s unsung heroes.

Many such roads open this week, and will remain safe - mostly anyway - until April, when the ice thaws. 

But here on the Lena, only vehicles of up to twenty tons are permitted for now, until the ice is thicker later in the winter. 

Other roads have a more limited annual lifespan, depending on local conditions. 

Map

Map showes the way from Yakutsk to Nizhny Bestyakh. Picture: The Siberian Times

For example, one famous zimnik, or winter road, stretches a distance of 120 kilometres over the East Siberian Sea supplying the 400 residents of Ayon island in Chukotka.

This is open only two months a year. But as our pictures show, accidents happen. And they’re often fatal.

Each winter trucks and cars fall through the ice. 

The truth is dozens of Russians lose their lives each year after driving on thin ice. 

In many cases they have veered off approved and monitored ice roads. 

In 2015, for example, the 33 year old younger son of deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych drowned after getting trapped under the ice of Lake Baikal after his minivan sank.

Car fell through the ice


Car fell through the ice


Car fell through the ice


Car fell through the ice


Car fell through the ice

Each winter trucks and cars fall through the ice. Pictures: CrimYakutia, Bogdan Bulychiov, cp-ck.narod.ru

Friends watched in horror as Viktor junior frantically head butted the ice seeking to escape after he had driven on a winter road. 

Through the clear waters of Baikal, vehicles lost in this submerged graveyard are visible. 

Without these zimniks, tens of thousands of Russians would be left without food and essentials for months on end. 

Many drivers have stories to tell of the dangers. 

'A few times I heard the damned ice cracking under my truck as I was driving over it. That was so scary,' said one, Artyom.

Cars stuck in Baikal


Submerged car

Cars often fall through the ice of Baikal. Pictures: EMERCOM

In another case, a truck broke down on an ice road and the driver went out to try and fix it. 

Then the cabin collapsed through an ice hole, trapping his arm.

Soon he noticed a pack of wolves circling. 

The tough Siberian man amputated his limb in order to escape the hungry predators.

Comments (3)

Great pictures, I always thought driving fast on frozen lake ice roads is dangerous because it creates a wave under the ice. But if some truck was thundering by me i think I would put the pedal to the metal to.
Scott the Canuck, Canada
18/01/2018 02:26
3
0
It looks like a dangerous but, fun job. The video is excellent
john lindsey, Chittenango,New York USA
16/01/2018 09:52
7
0
great video and great articles. Kudos of course also to the photographers. and the drivers earn peanuts compared to what their freight is worth and that they risk their live every time they go onto the ice road.
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
05/01/2018 17:31
9
0
1

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