In writing this little blog of mine I’ve been privileged enough to make the acquaintance of a number of amazing men and women who do some incredible things. When I hear from those folks, either by phone or email, I always make sure to give them special attention and listen closely to what they are thinking and planning. One of those people is explorer Mikael Strandberg, a man who has pushed the limits of human endurance on a number of expeditions to far flung corners of the globe. So when I received an email this weekend detailing Mikael’s next adventure, you can bet that I read the note with keen interest.
In that email Mikael announced Expedition Extreme Cold, a journey through one of the harshest and bitterly cold environments on the planet. This adventure will take Strandberg deep into the heart of Siberia, where he’ll spend time traveling with the Eveny, a group of nomadic reindeer herders who have learned to survive in that beautiful, yet unforgiving place.
Mikael’s journey will begin in Oymyakon, Siberia – one of the coldest inhabited place on the planet. In Oymyako, the average temperature falls below freezing for seven months of the year and the ground is permanently frozen. In the months that Strandberg will be traveling in the region, temperatures will routinely drop below -60ºC/-76ºF as he makes his way through a wild, mountainous region that few people ever visit.
The plan is for Mikael to travel with the reindeer people from Oymyako to the Sea of Okhotsk on Russia’s east coast. Along the way, they’ll cover 600 km (373 miles), battling extreme weather, unexplored routes, wild animals and a host of other challenges.
Joining Strandberg on this cold-weather journey will be explorer Yegor Makarov and photographers Yuri Berezhnov and Misja and Keisja Alexandrov. The team hopes to shoot a documentary for OutWild TV on the Eveny and their way of life in such a harsh part of the world. Below is a YouTube video that serves as a “pilot” for this documentary, giving us all an idea of what to expect from the final product. It also gives us a true glimpse into what kind of conditions Mikael and his team will be dealing with over the next few months. The expedition is scheduled to run through mid-April.
The expedition won’t just be about making a documentary however, as the explorers will also be conducting research on how genetics, choice of clothing, training methods and adaptation all play into how we humans survive, and in the case of the Eveny thrive, in extremely cold environments. Further, they hope to document the native and historical knowledge of the Eveny in how they have learned to survive in Siberia and came to use reindeer for the pulling of their sledges in that environment.
Mikael tells me that his preparation for this expedition has been amongst the hardest of his career, saying that he has done a year’s worth of preparation in just two months. But judging from what he has planned, I can tell that he is extremely excited about this journey, which will be unlike any other that he has undertaken before.
When I received my email from Mikael he was just heading off to the airport to fly to Russia and get the expedition underway. Hopefully we’ll get updates on his progress as he proceeds, as this looks to be a fascinating journey to say the least.