| 22/01/2014 | 0 Comments

The Land Rover and The Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers) supported ‘Pole of Cold’ expedition team have reached their goal – Oymyakon, Russia – aka the ‘Pole of Cold.’

LR_POC_4The Oymyakon region earned its title as the ‘Pole of Cold’ when -67.7 degrees C was recorded in February 1933. The team – led by experienced British adventurer Felicity Aston and consists of Manu Palomeque, a photographer and film-maker, and Gisli Jonsson, a highly experienced cold-weather engineer, mechanic and winter driving advisor – travelled more than 20,000 km to reach their destination.

LR_POC_2The modified Land Rover Defender has transported them across the many challenging terrains of the trip, including joining a snowplough convoy through a storm to reach NordKapp, at the top of Europe, and driving along official ice roads on the frozen Lena River. Enhancements to the vehicle include uprated suspension, underbody and driveline protection, auxiliary heaters for the engine and occupants, a long range fuel tank and extra equipment and luggage storage.

LR_POC_5The expedition set out to explore the social, cultural and physical implications of living in the most extreme climates during winter, and so far the team have met a diverse range of communities and individuals. They have joined the Skolt Sami of Finnmark for their annual reindeer roundup, watched the aurora while listening to a Sami Shaman, walked across a frozen Siberian river in moonlight, celebrated Christmas Day three times and have sung along with Tuvan throat singers on New Years Day at the ‘Centre of Asia.’

LR_POC_3Felicity Aston, expedition leader, says of the culture they have experienced, “In these extremes of cold it is the details of daily life that are fascinating – it often seems that everything is backwards – ice-cream is sold on tables in the open, while fruit and vegetables are warmed in blankets, ice-roads on frozen rivers are preferred to roads, prams have sledge runners rather than wheels, cars are left running outside shops and in petrol stations so that the engines don’t freeze and cities look like they are on fire as buildings and vehicles steam.”. The Defender has also become a star of the expedition in its own right. As Felicity explains, “The Defender has also attracted a lot of attention as we have passed through cities, towns and villages which has led to lots of interactions and encounters that wouldn’t have happened otherwise – being red helps to get us noticed! Right the way across Siberia we’ve been getting hoots and thumbs-up, waves and smiles. Pedestrians in the street come up to pat the bonnet in approval and we’ve come to recognise the phrase ‘Machina Harasho’ (Good Car). Getting such appreciation makes driving a lot of fun.”

LR_POC_1The team will now set out to cover the 15,000 km back to the UK. Their return route will take them through Altai in southern Siberia, into Kazakhstan and then back through southern Scandinavia, eventually returning to Harwich and London. Once back in the UK the team plan to run an exhibition of their findings across the UK, as well as publishing their findings and photography from the trip.

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Category: NEWS, TRAVEL

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