Finally, summer has come to Chukotka, and with it the time for quad expeditions. After an abnormally warm and snowy winter, an abnormally long spring, an abnormally cold beginning of summer, an abnormal heat for Chukotka came… 27 degrees we’ve got here! And despite the clouds of mosquitoes, gadflies and midges, we begin to prepare for the first trip.
The beginning of our packing session went absolutely wrong. First, Rhino decided not to start properly – the rear shock absorbers were knocked out. A week of hassle with searching, paying and transferring them from Moscow, then waiting for comrades from Moscow and eastern Ukraine. The first one was able to arrive almost a week late, but the second one could not get out for obvious reasons.
But everything seems to be settled down, the packing resumed in full swing. We are planning the first expedition to the Ice Lake.
Last summer, passing the route to Egvekinot, we slipped through this large lake without even stopping for a picture. Together, we decided it wasn’t right to leave white spots on the map. We also decided to stop at Gornoye (Mountain) Lake – and find the crash site of the Li-2 plane in 1946, go fishing, and just relax in the tundra.
The route is mostly known to us and not very long, quite suitable for the first trip. Just the right thing to warm up, check out the technique and tune in for longer expeditions.
Just before leaving, it turns out that a permanent member of the expedition – Oleg won’t be able to go — he has work…
So, the three of us are leaving. The heat eased a little. But still warm, solid 20 degrees. Equipment we got are Yamaha Rhino, Yamaha Grizzly 700, Kawasaki BruteForce 750.
Crossing the Anadyr estuary.
Проезжаем Гудым (Пятый городок). Военный городок закрытый в начале 2000 годов. Основная достопримечательность Гудыма – это командный пункт расположенный внутри близлежащей сопки. Шесть здоровенных залов, куча подсобных помещений, узкоколейка. Протяженностью объекта более километра.
Down and along the Raskokurkina river.
Zolotogorye… No matter how many times we pass here, we never cease to be surprised at how beautiful it is.
The first stop is the abandoned Bystryi (Quick) mine. We refueled, had a snack, and got back on the road again.
From the Bystraya river we jump over to the Gornyi stream, from it we get to the Colby river.
Then up the pass of Mount Otradnaya.
View of the abandoned Tikhyy mine. A strange place, by the way. No matter how many times we rode there it’s always the same… The descent is disgusting – a swamp with stones and bumps. The road we have laid our eyes on a long time ago always strives to disappear somewhere.
The mine itself is full of gullies and swamps with nails and iron. But here is the paradox. Usually on our way back, we pass, or rather even fly over it, in one breath. Moreover, it happens at any time of the day and in any weather. It is not clear where all these numerous mean things go at this moment.
River Tnekweem. We throw off the fuel in the old geological bath for our way back, and again get back on the road, up the Skalistaya river.
At the next crossing, the Rhino got a crackling whistle in the area of the left rear wheel while driving. We put it on a jack.
We think the worst, but it turned out to be okay. Stuck stone rubbed the brake disc.
At the fork of the Skalistaya river and the Zvonky stream, we stop for the night.
Travel time – 12 hours; Mileage – 135 km.
Morning. We have Breakfast, quickly get ready and go up the Zvonky stream. Today we plan to reach Lake Gornoe. After reviewing the map, we decide to try a new path that promise to be easy. No one had the desire to shake on the rocks of Skalistaya mountain and cut rubber on the rocks of Mount Catastrophic.
The road is not bad at first, smooth solid shelves along the banks. There are small pebbles on the stream itself. Enjoying the ride, we quickly roll forward.
At the foot of the Nedostupnaya (Inaccessible) mountain, we notice a reindeer herding team. We drive to approach.
All faces are familiar … We occasionally cross paths with them during our travels. We talked, drank tea, and set off to the road again.
How many times have we sworn to point this pass out on GPS…? Again, damn it, we got into the wrong one…
We had to make an extra circle in the mountains to get to the river we need – the Left Tavaivaam.
From the Left Tavaivaam we go to the mainstream, and moving along it, we drive up the stream Prozrachnyi (Transparent).
We move upwards along it until we run into the mountain ridge formed by the Voron and Konusnaya mountains. Well, where next …? It’s a bit steep up there, and you can’t see a detour either. Damn these “easy roads”!
We still decide to crawl up. We need to get to the upper reaches of the river Vaamchergyrgyn. On the map, it looks like it’s right behind the ridge. We climb up. It’s kinda hard…
There is also a hummock up to the waist long. We hardly crawl onto the ridge. Somewhere down there must be the river we need. But no sign of it can be seen… Again, we reach for the map…
Ohh, that’s the problem! We need to go left and up, almost to the top of mount Konusnaya and from there it will be possible to get on the river. Hmm… So tall, and steep, and really creepy. Well, let’s go.
Ugh… We crawled in somehow… Here you are, dear…. Well, now we go down …
Went down to the river Vaamchergyrgyn. More rocks and a knee-high hummock. Well, such “easy roads” are just pleasing.
Going out on the river parallel to the lake, we begin to cut directly through the tundra.
In the evening, exhausted, with faces swollen from the sun, wind and mosquitoes, we drive up to the Mountain Lake.
Remembering the unkind words “easy roads” we are looking for a place to camp, and put up tents. Whiskey, dinner, sleep…
Mileage — 75 km; Travel time — 10 hours.
We get up.
We decide to stay by the lake for a day. It’s warm, Sunny, and the weather would be great if only it wouldn’t be so windy. By the way, for all the time we spent on the lake, it never stopped, only changed direction. A big plus — it blows away mosquitoes. We had Breakfast and move out to search for the plane crash site.
First engine found
We found a place to climb. Okay, let’s go up there…
In about an hour, we’re at the top. Fragments of the fuselage, the remains of instruments are everywhere. Apparently, the plane was smeared right across the mountain. At the highest point we find the grave of the pilots. The monument once had a nameplate that seemed to have been blown out by the wind.
On the left side of the mountain we find another engine. And below, in the valley between the mountains, we notice the remains of the tail. Since the mountain does not have a name on the maps, we unanimously decide to call it the Mountain of Dead Pilots.
“We had such views before our eyes that they took delight into our thoughts and made us look at those objects with the deepest reverence …” Captain Billings about Chukotka.
Slowly, without haste, we slide down.
We go to the camp for lunch, rest, and in the evening, we are going fishing. As the fishing trials have shown, only grayling is caught in the upper reaches of two streams in the northern side of the lake. And in a constant mode, I threw it and pulled it out.
Not far away, not paying attention to us, walked the bear
In the middle of the lake, where it is deeper, a small char splashed. We didn’t catch anything bigger, either it just doesn’t exist, or we have the wrong fishing rod.
In the evening we refuel, check the equipment, tomorrow we get back on the road.
It’s morning. And back on the road. We are moving across the tundra, towards the Right Vaamchergyrgyn river. Again, a hummock mixed with swamp and rocks. The wind died down a little and the mosquitoes just went berserk. With a death roar, the gadflies swoop down.
It’s morning. And again, on the road. Again, a bump mixed with bog and stones. The wind subsided a little and the mosquitoes just went wild. Gadflies dive with a dying roar.
We reach the river and slowly, bouncing on the rocks, we roll forward.
We left for the Vaamchergyrgyn river. There is much more water compared to last year, in some places we have to jump from the riverbed to the tundra.
After walking a little along the river, we leave on the tundra and move forward to the Ledyanaya river. We drive, cross over and again move through the tundra up to Ice Lake.
The Ice Lake. Finally, we get here. There is one white spot on the map less.
We set up a camp on the shore, go fishing, explore the surroundings, cook dinner.
The wind again breaks loose. The sky is overcast with clouds. Tomorrow, on the way back, we really don’t want rain at all.
Mileage – 50 km; Travel time – 5 hours.
The weather has cleared up in the morning. A fox didn’t let us sleep for half of the night rattling dirty dishes, until it was shooed away. We gather the camp and go on the road again.
We reach the upper reaches of the Right Vaamchergyrgyn, drive out to the tundra and head forward to the Echuveem River. The road is pleasingly flat, there are no bumps, the tundra is smooth as a table.
We drive up to the Lake of Hope. It’s such a nice lake, small pebbles on the shore, sandy beaches.
We reach the Echuveem River and try to move along the channel. It turned out to be almost impossible. It’s not a river, but just some kind of heap of boulders. On the tundra, next to the river, there is a hummock cut by stone streams.
It is extremely difficult to move, but still easier than by the river. We slowly get to the Mountain Lake.
We twist the protection shattered by blows against the stones and move on to the pass of Mount Privolnaya.
Going around the stone piles we climb higher and higher. From time to time we jump off the ATV’s – we pave and level the road with stones.
We descend from the pass. Valunnaya (Boulder) river.
Tighten up the loose rocks and stones impact protection and move on to the mountain pass at ease.
After a short walk along the riverbed, we again move into to the tundra. Somewhere in the middle of Mount Krutaya we continue to move to the Peschanaya River.
Fatigue takes its toll, so we decide together-everything is enough for today, it’s time to stop for the night. Somehow, skidding on a hummock, avoiding ravines and stones, we descend to the river. Having reached the pass of Mount Catastrophic along it, we stop for the night.
Mileage — 85 km; Travel time — 10 hours.
In the morning we begin to storm the pass. At the beginning we thought to try to bypass it along the river on the right, but then we decided, well, let’s go the known way. Let’s get into the “easy road” again…
The familiar work on quad acrobatics and stone paving begins … We crawled … We descend … At the very end of the descent, Rhino ran into a solifluction. It stuck well, we had to pull it out with two ATV’s.
We go down the Skalistaya river. The road, though crappy, is painfully familiar.
We quickly jumped to the middle course of the river. Well, it’s practically a highway here.
We literally flew to the Tnekveem River. We refueled with stashed gasoline and moved on. The water has subsided a little, which happens extremely rare with this river. It allowed us to get right along the Tnekveem channel to the turn of the Tikhaya River.
We go up along the Tikhaya river to the mine of the same name. The mine, as well as the ascent to the Otradnaya mountain pass, as usual, we fly over with a bang.
The mine, as well as the ascent to the pass of mount Otradnaya, as usual, we fly just with a Bang.
We descend the Colby river without incident.
A short drive along the Bystraya river and we enter the Bystraya mine. Our first stop is under the roof. We can relax, almost at home. We call the city, arrange the barge for tomorrow. We stay up late talking… There’s no hurry tomorrow …
Mileage – 90 km; Travel time – 10 hours.
Well, it rained last night. In the morning, it only got worse. It’s getting colder. We gather, warm up, and wrap ourselves in raincoats. Let’s go.
We’re almost at home. On the barge we go through the estuary. The feeling is not quite clear. It seems that the trip was a success, and everything that was planned was done, but some dissatisfaction remained. After consulting, we come to the conclusion that this sediment is due to the fact that we are always used to traveling on new routes, and this trip took us to places that we already passed earlier. Perhaps which is why, sitting in the forecastle of the barge, we begin to argue with fervor and discuss the plan for a new expedition for August… We better get back to the road as soon as possible…