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Hitching a lift on a nuclear icebreaker: how six adventurers were saved with the ride of a lifetime

By The Siberian Times reporter
04 February 2018

Group had made record-breaking 650 km drive on frozen Yenisei River from Norilsk to Dikson - but got into trouble on their return before being plucked to safety.

Taymyr icebreaker gives a lift. Picture: Anton Panov

The polar travellers completed an epic journey in Toyota pick-ups, and now hope to go into the record books for their odyssey using unmodified ‘standard cars’ to reach the world’s most northerly continental settlement.

They made a few headlines on their way, for example with amazing footage showing them being buzzed by the impressive nuclear icebreaker Taymyr on the frozen River Yenisei.

They also tried racing the mighty ship at a temperature of -50C on the frozen water, as another video shows. 

They also tried racing the mighty ship at a temperature of -50C on the frozen water, as another video shows. 

The icebreaker crashed its way through the frozen river while the vehicles depended on the nearby unbroken ice for their road. 

The team's cameraman Anton Panov explained: ‘Even at it approached us, the ice began to tremble. 

'And when it came up close, it was so cool that it is hard to describe in words.’

It was so close driver Evgeny Shatalov even managed to touch it. 

Map


Dikson


Travel

The polar travellers completed an epic journey in Toyota pick-ups, and now hope to go into the record books for their odyssey using unmodified ‘standard cars’ to reach the world’s most northerly continental settlement. Pictures: Anton Panov, Bogdan Bulychev

But the six intrepid adventurers were even happier to meet the Finnish-built Taymyr 15 days later on their return from Dikson - and the vessel possibly saved their lives. 

Alexander Elikov, a famous Arctic explorer, said: 'Halfway between Dikson and the polar meteorological station 'Sopkarga' the ice cracked, our tracks swam away in an unknown direction, and the resulting open water was covered by a treacherous and dangerous snow.’

The weather had warmed and the ice was no longer safe to drive on. 

Weather station 'Sopkarga'


Weather station 'Sopkarga'


Blizzard


Travel

The men holed up for four days sheltering from a blizzard at the weather station 'Sopkarga'. Pictures: Anton Panov, Bogdan Bulychev

'Only the flair and constant alertness of the team saved us from the tragedy,' he said. 

The men holed up for four days sheltering from a blizzard at the weather station 'Sopkarga'.

Then saw the Taimyr again and contacted the ship's captain by satellite, who offered to take them to Dudinka.

Expedition leader Bogdan Bulychev posted: 'On the way back from Dikson we were caught by a blizzard. 

'In the north, the weather dictates its rules, and we silently accept them, continuing according to these rules. 

'While drinking the next cup of tea we got good news from the captain of the nuclear icebreaker Taimyr: 'If the leadership of Rosatomflot give the go-ahead, then I'll take you aboard and give you a lift.’

After a day they got the go ahead to hitch a lift with the icebreaker.

Lifting onboard


Lifting onboard


Lifting onboard

After a day they got the go ahead to hitch a lift with the icebreaker. Pictures: Bogdan Bulychev

They agreed a loading point with the captain, but it took them three hours to travel the 6km - because the river ice had become so unstable and dangerous. 

They had another 750 km to go to reach their planned destination Dudinka - yet it was perilous to travel at more than 2km an hour. 

Amazing pictures from one of their tents shows the arrival of the atomic giant.

'At 9 am we were awoken by the long whistle of the Taimyr nuclear icebreaker. Then began the loading of our heroic Toyota Hilux,' he said.

Onboard


Onboard

'Our Toyota Hilux took an honourable place on the helicopter ship’s helicopter pad.’ Picture: Bogdan Bulychev

'The team was given ‘individual cabins with all conveniences, an excursion around the atomic boat ‘ and a personal introduction to the captain.

'Our Toyota Hilux took an honourable place on the helicopter ship’s helicopter pad.’

For the group, this was ‘one more tick in the wish list’ -  a ride of a lifetime on an atomic icebreaker, and a safe return to civilisation.

Comments (4)

It was also a Russian Icebreaker who helped rescue stranded whales in Alaska in 1988. Thank you to everyone involved then and thank you to everyone involved now.
Pamela K Tetarenko, League City, USA
06/02/2018 21:45
3
0
This might serve as an important metaphor. Russia wisely pursued nuclear power for these ships when other nations cowed to the misguided public sentiment against nuclear... anything.

This will play out again as we all fritter away precious time in pursuit of a pure "renewables" future.

Tomorrow's carbon-free energy market will belong to those that boldly work on and improve nuclear power generation. It is the great ship that will rescue the hapless and unprepared from the ravages of "renewables".
Billy Gogesch, Reno, NV
06/02/2018 08:23
4
2
My mouth is genuinely hanging open at the thought of driving that far on river ice. Well done, guys! And well done to Rusatom as well, for the rescue.
Rob, Stevenage
06/02/2018 00:27
3
0
incredible story!Three cheers to the Rusatom people! will these guys get a bill for their -trip-? or was it a fee hitchhiking adventure?
Benedikt MORAK, Moscow
05/02/2018 08:18
6
0
1

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