Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russia. Show all posts

Video: Rare Snow Leopards Caught on Film in the Wild

Snow leopards are amongst the most endangered creatures on the planet, and spotting them in the wild is a rare feat indeed. In this clip, we catch a glimpse of these incredibly elusive cats thanks to camera trap footage captured by National Geographic. These leopards were found in the Altai Mountains of Russia, not far from the border with China and Mongolia, a place I was fortunate enough to see last years. Sadly, there were no snow leopards to be found on my journey, but this video makes up for that.

Russians Uncover Secret Nazi Base in the Arctic

File this story under "News of the Weird."

Russian researchers have discovered a hidden Nazi base in the Arctic. Yep, you read that right, and no this isn't one of those weird conspiracy stories that you'll find elsewhere on the Internet. Apparently the base, which is named “Schatzgraber” or “Treasure Hunter,”  was built back in 1942 under order from Adolf Hitler himself. It is believed to have been in operation until June of 1944, when it was abandoned following a series of mishaps.

Located on the remote island of Alexander Land, the base was believed to have been a weather station. After it was constructed, teams of Nazi soldiers lived there throughout 1943, a year after the Germans invaded Russia during World War II. But, running low on supplies the men that lived there were later forced to eat raw polar bear meat, which caused some of the soldier to become ill and even die. The remaining staff members departed the station just as the tide was beginning to turn against Hitler back home. 

After that, the base became a forgotten structure from a bygone era. There were rumors of its existence, but no one was able to confirm that the Nazi's had indeed constructed the weather station above the Arctic Circle, although others had previously searched for it in vain. But the Russian team that discovered Schatgraber say they found more than 500 relics from the WWII era that were left behind by the previous tenants. They found a number of German bunkers, fuel barrels, and even old paperwork that was left behind when the soldiers left. Most of it is well preserved in the harsh, cold conditions, which should make for some interesting historical discoveries amongst the remains of the base. 

Up until now, the base had only been mentioned in old Nazi reference material and German supply records, but since it had never been found, Schatgraber was believed to be a myth. There are many such stories of hidden Nazi bases – including some in the Antarctic too. Most of those probably are just legends, but this discovery will certainly add fuel to the fire. 

The researchers the discovered the station say they'll take all of the artifacts that they've found back to Russia with them for examination. Perhaps they'll find even more interesting things about what the Nazi's were doing there in the Arctic from the paperwork they discovered. 

Check out some images from the base in the news video below. The dialog is in Russian, but you'll at least get a sense of what the site looks like now. 

Polar Bears Trap Russian Research Team Inside Arctic Base

Think your job is rough? Consider the challenges that a team of five Russian scientists have been facing as they conduct weather research on the remote island of Troynoy in the Arctic Ocean. According to a report from TASS the group had become trapped inside its meteorological observation center by a group of ten polar bears who have taken up residence just outside the base.

Normally, in order to keep the bears at bay, the scientists use flares and have dogs at the base to scare off the animals. But, the team had run out of flares, and according to Mashable the bears even killed one of the dogs. Because of this aggressive nature, the researchers have had to abandon some of their projects, and had been instructed to only leave the base when absolutely necessary.

It was originally reported that it would take weeks to deliver new flares and dogs to the station, but apparently relief came earlier today when a passing research vessel made a detour to lend a hand. The ship resupplied the team with flares, which were used immediately to scare off the bears. The next resupply ship wasn't scheduled to arrive for another month, but this should help buy the team some time.

Apparently, the bears gather near the base to wait for the Arctic Ocean to freeze. That typically occurs in late October or early November, at which time they'll depart the area and head north. Considering the current state of the arctic sea ice, it may take longer than usual before the bears begin their migration, and it is possible that they'll return to that location again in the days ahead.

In the past only about 4-6 bears have spent their summers on Troynoy, but apparently this year there are at least 10, including some large female with small cubs as well. One of the females has even been spending her nights just below one of the windows of the weather station, making it even more difficult for the team to sneak outside to record readings for their research.

Hopefully there will be some relief for these scientists soon. While watching polar bears up close sounds like an amazing experience, being locked inside and unable to go out doesn't seem like a lot of fun.

Cold War Politics at the North Pole

If you read this blog regularly, you probably saw my coverage of the North Pole exploration season this past spring. While there were no full-distance expeditions to the North Pole from either the Canadian or Russian side of the ice as there has been in years past, there was still plenty of drama to be had. That's because Norway and Russian got into a bit of a showdown over who gets access to the Arctic. The pissing match between those two countries turned into a bit of a political and logistical nightmare that resulted in some polar explorers, adventurers, and researchers being left in the lurch while attempting to travel to and from the Arctic this spring. And the fallout from this exchange could have long-lasting repercussions for the future.

I reported several times on the fact that flights to the Barneo Ice Camp – the temporary base built at 89ºN each year – were delayed coming out of Longyearbyen, in Svalbard, Norway because of security issues. Those flights are for massive Russian supply planes, which are used to shuttle gear and personnel too and from the Arctic. The aircraft typically fly from Russia to Norway, where they pick up passengers and supplies before proceeding on to Barneo. But this year, this procedure caused a stir when the transport planes carried a team of Chechen soldier who were on their way to the Arctic to conduct training exercises. Norwegian officials say that the Russians didn't inform them that these commandos would passing through their country, and in retaliation they revoked all of the flight permits, and changed the procedure for how the Russian jets come and go.

All of this was further compounded by the fact that the Barneo station had one of its most challenging years ever. Each year, a team of Russian engineers parachutes out onto the ice to build a temporary base that includes a 4000-foot (1220 meter) runway. That camp is then used to facilitate travel throughout the Arctic for a month or so. But this year, the landing strip had all kinds of issues, having to be rebuilt on multiple occasions and even forcing the relocation of the base at one point.

As you can imagine, all of this led to a tumultuous season at the North Pole this year, and will dramatically impact operations moving forward. Just exactly what happened, and how it will change travel in the Arctic in the future, is detailed in this article from Outside magazine. The story goes to great lengths to lay out the facts of what happened and the dispute that it has created between the Russians and the Norwegians. If you followed the events as they unfolded this past spring, or know the logistics of Arctic travel, you'll find it to be a good read.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out in the future. At the end of the Arctic season, the team that operates Barneo said that they would shift their logistical base back to Russia and travel through Franz Josef Land starting next year. That will work of course, but it means more hassle for the people coming and going from Barneo. Whether or not that has a real impact on travel at the top of the world remains to be seen.

Video: Surfing the Arctic Ocean in Siberia

I don't cover surfing often here on The Adventure Blog, but I couldn't resist sharing this video, which takes us to Siberia where a group of adventurous surfers attempt to catch a wave in the frigid Arctic Ocean. The clip was shot over the course of a year near Murmansk, Russia, with the ocean showing the different sides of its character throughout the season. The dedication and commitment to this endeavor is admirable to say the least. The images captured here are astounding as well. I hope you enjoy.

SURF IN SIBERIA ARCTIC OCEAN 5 from Kokorev Konstantin on Vimeo.

Video: The Wildlife of Chernobyl

It has been 30 years since the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine. Since than, the city, and the surrounding area, has been mostly deserted of people, but wildlife has returned to the area and is thriving. In this video from National Geographic, we get a glimpse of those creatures that include wolves, foxes, dogs, and other animals. It is fascinating to see them wandering through a place where humans continue to shun. As is usual, nature finds a way.

World's Tiger Population on the Rise for First Time in 100 Years

Last week we shared the sad news that a rare sumatran rhino that was discovered in the wild last month died of complications from an infection just days after it was captured. That was a sad blow to conservation efforts for the species, which is considered critically endangered, with only a few of the creatures still known to exist. But, those same wildlife conservationists got good news this past weekend when it was revealed that the world's tiger population has started to rebound for the first time in a century.

According to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund, there are now 3890 tigers worldwide, up from 3200 in 2010. Most of those gains are due to improved census processes and better protected areas in Russia, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Further efforts are also underway in Malaysia, China, Indonesia, and Myanmar as well, but it is more difficult to estimate the number of tigers in those countries due to no formal conservation programs existing there.

The report goes on to say that two-thirds of the world's tigers live in India, where the numbers have gone up from 1706 to 2226 over the past five years. Those gains have come in the form of anti-poaching efforts as well as offering compensation to farmers and villagers who have suffered loss due to tiger attacks.

This is all good news for the big cat population, and it is encouraging for conservation efforts all over the world. There was a time when it seemed that the tiger might vanish from the wild on our planet, and while the species isn't completely out of the woods yet, these numbers are very encouraging. If this trend continues – and there is no reason to suspect it won't – we may be able to pull the tiger back from the threat of extinction. That is great news indeed.

Video: Lake Baikal in Timelapse

At 1641 meters (5383 feet) in depth, Russia's Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the entire world. Located in southern Siberia, Baikal is remote and wild, with some amazing landscapes found along its shores. You'll see all of that in this great timelapse video, which gives us a glimpse of what this part of the world is truly like.

Lake Baikal from Stas Tolstnev on Vimeo.

Video: Motorcyclists Have Close Encounter with a Bear

You just never know who you might bump into when traveling through the woods. In this video, two motorcyclists in Russia discovered that fact first hand when they nearly hit a bear that runs out onto the dirt road in front of them. Fortunately, the bear and the riders came away unscathed, and we get this cool footage of the close encounter.

Trio of British Polar Explorers to Attempt North Pole Expedition in 2016

For some time now I've been saying that the most difficult expedition in the world of outdoor adventure and exploration is a journey on skis to the North Pole. Anyone who undertakes that challenge faces an incredibly hostile environment that includes harsh weather, subzero temperatures, and surface conditions that are nearly impassable. Throw in the occasional encounter with polar bears, and a phenomenon called negative drift that actually causes skiers to lose ground while they rest, and you start to see why it is such a difficult undertaking.

In recent years climate change has made that journey even more perilous, causing the ice to become more unstable, and opening large sections of open water in the Arctic Ocean that must be swam across or skied around. Additionally, those same climate forces have created storms that are more dangerous than ever.

The last team to complete a full expedition to the North Pole was Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters, who did so back in the early months of 2014. Their struggles have been well documented, and have prompted some to say that they might be the last two men to make the trek to the North Pole. But this year a team of three British adventurers will attempt to replicate that feat, albeit from the opposite side of the ice.

In February of 2016, Mark Wood, Paul Vicary and Mark Langridge will set out from Cape Arktichesky in Russia in an attempt to cross the Arctic Ocean and ski to the North Pole without resupply. The journey is expected to take 60 days to complete, covering more than 600 nautical miles (690 miles/1111 km). They're calling this expedition the Race Against Time, and their website can be found at

The goals that the team has set for itself are many. In addition to attempting to raise funds for the Hire a Hero program in the U.K., the three men also hope to raise awareness and educate the public on the growing threat of climate change. To that end, they'll also be working with researchers at Warwick and Exeter Universities, as they collect data on their journey north. The trio also hopes to inspire a new generation of explorers to continue to search the planet for new discoveries as well.

All three of the members of this team have already completed full distance ski expeditions to the South Pole, but they'll find that the Arctic Ocean is a far different place than the Antarctic. For reasons already mentioned above, a ski journey to 90ºN is far more difficult and dangerous than one heading to 90ºS.

The expedition has picked up a couple of prominent patrons from the polar exploration world. Sir Ranulph Fiennes has given them his stamp of approval, as has Henry Worsley, who even now is working to complete his solo and unsupported traverse of Antarctica. The team also received some much needed support from British businessman Mark Tweddle, who stepped in to provide funds when it looked like the project could fall apart before it even got started. Without his aid, the explorers would have been forced to abandon their efforts altogether.

I was certainly amongst those who thought that a full-distance North Pole expedition probably wouldn't happen again in my lifetime. It remains to be seen if Wood, Vicary, and Langridge will be able to ski all the way to the Pole, but I definitely applaud their efforts. It will be interesting to follow their progress when they get underway on February 20. It could be history in the making for sure.

Video: Lucky Rabbit Survives Avalanche in the Kamchatka Mountains

This video was shot on a mountain in Kamchatka, a remote area of Russia where a team of heliskiers were filming a snowboarding movie. During production an avalanche occurred on the mountain, sweeping down the slopes. The snowboarder featured in the video was able to easily out run it, but a white rabbit actually runs into the avalanche and manages to avoid getting crushed. As you'll see in the clip, he is one lucky bunny who manages to stay above the tumbling snow, and make it to the other side in one piece.

Avalanche! Run Rabbit Run! Original Video By Helipro. from HELIPRO on Vimeo.

Adventurers Complete First Circumnavigation of Lake Baikal in Winter by Motorbike

Awhile back, two adventurers complete a journey through one of the coldest environments on Earth when they circumnavigated Lake Baikal in Siberia by motorbike in the dead of winter. The expedition was undertaken as an exploratory mission for a potential new extreme trip sponsored by The Adventurists, but also to raise funds for charity, and to prove that it could be done.

Matt Prior, Dennis Malone, and a team of other crazy travelers embarked on the 2000 km (1242 mile) journey around the frozen lake beginning and ending in Irkutsk, Russia. It didn't take them long to discover what they were in for, as they faced temperatures that plunged below -30ºC/-22ºF, as they battled winds that approached 80 mph (128 km/h). That would be challenging enough under any circumstances, but to do it on a motorcycle is unthinkable.

Located deep in Siberia, Baikal is the largest and deepest lake on the planet. It covers more than 31,000 square kilometers (12,248 sq. mi), and plunges to a depth of 1642 meters (5387 ft). It is also know for its extreme weather, which is owed much to its location. The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site back in 1996 due to its value as a natural resource.

Despite the harsh conditions, it was actually an unseasonably warm winter along the lake, which made ice conditions challenging at times. Matt and Dennis had to cautiously move forward at points, as certain sections weren't even safe for walking, let alone driving a motorcycle. At one point, one of the bikes even broke down, forcing major repair work to be done in the field in order to keep moving forward. It didn't help much that the motorcycle was a vintage Russian Ural with a sidecar that was left over from World War II.

Despite the challenges, the expedition – which was sponsored by GoPro, Klim, and Powertraveller – was a success in more ways than one. The duo managed to raise funds for some important charities, including Help for Heroes, Soldier On, Plan UK, and Cool Earth.

If the name Matt Prior sounds familiar, it's because I've written about his initiative to launch the Adventure Academy in the past. That is his brilliant idea of providing would-be adventurers with the skills they need to launch their own expeditions by taking them on a journey that is equal parts learning experience and cultural immersion. You can learn more about the concept in the video below.

Congrats to Matt and Dennis on completing this Siberian odyssey.

Matt Prior Adventure Academy Main Promo from Matt Prior Adventure Academy on Vimeo.

Construction of 2015 Barneo Ice Camp Set to Begin

Over the next few days, construction is set to begin on the 2015 Barneo Ice Camp. This temporary base of operations is built in the Arctic each spring in order to serve as a staging ground for explorers, researchers, and adventure travelers heading to the North Pole. Located on the Russian side of the Arctic ice, Barneo has been operating somewhere near 89ºN Latitude for the past 15 years, providing access to the frozen Arctic Ocean to a wide variety of visitors in the process.

Traditionally, the process for building the base begins with Russian aircraft flying into the Arctic to first locate an ice flow of suitable size and stability. Once the location is selected a group of paratroopers drops onto the ice, along with construction equipment. They immediately go to work building a temporary runway that is suitable for large aircraft such as the Antonov An-74 cargo-passenger plane. The team also constructs a small camp to accommodate the men and women who come and go throughout the brief Arctic exploration season.

Once the camp is established and the runway is built, larger aircraft can land on the ice flow and begin delivering gear and supplies. They'll also shuttle the visitors to Barneo, some of whom will continue on to the North Pole by skis or helicopter.

From the sounds of things, it seems like 2015 will be quite a different season for Barneo than in year's past. Early reports indicate that there will be fewer tourists heading to the Arctic this spring, while more scientists and researchers take their place instead. Additionally, it seems the Russian military will use the camp as a base of operations while it conducts training operations in the Arctic as well.

Traditionally the camp opens around the first week of April and remains in operation for about three weeks. Weather conditions will determine just how long Barneo remains in service each year, as the ice flows begin to break up as the season advances. It is likely that the 2015 version of the base will follow roughly the same schedule.

Sadly, it seems there are fewer explorers heading into the Arctic this season, so it is unclear what kind of news we should expect out of Barneo in the days ahead. Right now it seems that visitors will be mostly limited to researchers and military personnel, but if a good story arises, I'll be sure to share it. The North Pole season will certainly be a quiet one though it seems.

Video: Timelapse in the Altai Mountains

Located in Central Asia, the Altai Mountains stretch across Russia, Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan. Remote, rugged, and wild, the Altai's are stark in their beauty, challenging visitors with unpredictable weather and their distant location. But this video takes viewers to that amazing landscape and gives us a taste of what that part of the world has to offer. To say it is breathtaking would be an understatement.

Altai Mountains Timescapes from Eugene Bryohin on Vimeo.

Lamenting the Lost Arctic Season

We're about to enter a bit of a lull in the world of exploration and adventure. The winter climbing season on Nanga Parbat is likely going to wrap up later this week, with success on the mountain still far from certain. We're also a few weeks away from climbers departing for Nepal to begin the spring climbing season on Everest and other major peaks in the Himalaya. For those men and women, the remaining days of March will be the calm before the storm as they launch a two-month long odyssey to reach the top of the tallest peak on the planet. While that will certainly be a busy and interesting time as always, this year there is definitely something missing from my usual round-ups of adventurous pursuits, and it isn't hard to identify exactly what that is. With no full-distance expeditions set to launch for the North Pole from the Canadian side of the Arctic this spring there is a real vacuum in terms of challenging undertakings, and it is unclear if that vacuum will be filled ever again.

Typically this time of year there are several teams in Resolute Bay, Canada waiting to be flown out to their starting points on the ice. Those intrepid adventurers generally have big dreams of skiing unsupported to the North Pole, covering roughly 700 km (435 miles) in the process. Most don't make it. In fact, since 2010, only one team has actually been able to accomplish that feat, which I believe is the most challenging journey in the world today. Climate change has altered the Arctic in undeniable ways, and as a result, those skiing north now face impossible thin ice, massive rubble fields, open leads of water, and numerous other obstacles. It is a difficult, punishing experience that has simply become increasingly difficult as the years have passed. So much so that it now seems nearly impossible for anyone to travel on foot all the way to 90ºN.

I'm not the only one who thinks that a full-distance North  Pole expedition is now almost entirely out of reach. Earlier this year, Kenn Borek Air, the charter airline that has supported Arctic explorers in the past, announced that it was ceasing operations in the region. With the increasing dangers of flying into the Arctic, it simply was no longer economically viable for the adventurous airline to continue supporting explorers in the area, and as a result the company made the surprise move to pullout. This has left a few expeditions in the lurch however and has meant that there will be no skiers attempting to reach the North Pole from the Canadian side of the ice this year.

As someone who enjoys following the intricacies of an expedition, particularly a very challenging one, the lack of North Pole skiers this year has left me disappointed, although not surprised. I've been saying for several years now that an expedition to the top of the world would only continue to get more difficult until it was simply impossible to complete. I didn't expect that to happen so soon, but it is the reality that Arctic explorers now face. Climate change was going to put an end to these kinds of journeys sooner, rather than later, but it seems that economics killed off these expeditions first.

That isn't to say that the North Pole will go completely unvisited this year. The Russians will once again build the Barneo Ice Camp on their side of the Arctic, and there will be any number of "last degree" expeditions that launch from that temporary base. Typically, Barneo opens in late March and stays active for about three weeks, granting well-heeled travelers an opportunity to scratch another destination off their bucket lists. I imagine that the camp will only see increased traffic this season with more people funneling through on their way to 90ºN.

While Barneo, and its visitors, will provide some sources of adventure news in the days ahead, it simply won't be the same as following a small team of adventurers as they spend days out on the ice struggling to ski to the North Pole. I'll miss reading daily updates on their progress while cheering them on from afar. I'll miss hearing about their struggles to cover even just a few kilometers in a day, as the weather, surface conditions, and other challenges conspire to make the journey harder than anyone ever imagined. It is an end of an era in the Arctic and in exploration in general, and I'm not sure we'll ever see anyone make this journey again in our lifetime. It is sad to see this come about, but it only makes me respect the explorers who have gone that way before all the more.

So, while we'll dutifully turn our attention to the Himalaya – and rightfully so – that doesn't mean that I won't be lamenting the fact that the North Pole is now out of reach, and that another chapter in the age of exploration has closed for good.

Video: Altai - The Road and the River

This past summer, expedition kayaker Chris Korbulic traveled to the Altai Mountains of Russia to explore the wilderness and paddle the rivers found there. This short film shares that adventure with us, delivering some amazing images from that remote place, mixed with some impressive paddling on rivers that are seldom seen by outsider. Chris and his team discovered some epic whitewater along the way, with massive waterfalls, narrow canyons, and some truly wild destinations. This is a truly great piece of filmmaking with some breathtaking shots on and off the water.

Altai - The Road and the River from chris korbulic on Vimeo.

Mongol Rally Announces New Finish Line for 2015

Looking for an adventurous and fun challenge for 2015? Then look no further than the Mongol Rally, which returns for its 12th edition next year. This insane race across two continents continues to be one of the best adventure travel experiences on the planet, and in 2015 organizers of the race have announced that the finish line will move to an all new location, throwing a wrinkle into an event that continues to enthrall all who enter.

For those unfamiliar with the Mongol Rally, it is a road race that covers more than 10,000 miles (16,000 km) across Europe and Asia. The race begins in England, and in the past it has run to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Once under way, racers are allowed to take any route they choose between those two points, as getting lost, getting found, and discovering new places is all part of the fun.

The the exact starting point for the 2015 Rally has not been announced yet, but the finish line has. The Adventurists, the crazy group of men and women who organize the Mongol Rally, have announced that next year's edition of the race will end in Ulan Ude, Russia for the very first time. This new ending point opens up the race to all new routes and challenges, and gives the teams of racers the option of traveling a northerly route above the Arctic Circle should they choose.

Before you start making plans for this massive road trip, there is one other important detail you should know. The racers aren't making the journey in a swanky Land Rover or other powerful vehicle. Mongol Rally rules stipulate that the vehicle used in the race should have a 1.2 engine or less, with a heavy emphasis on bringing a car that is far from the ideal. In fact, most racers pick something up off the scrap heap, make minimal upgrades and repairs, and simply race as far as it will take them.

In 2015, the cars are required to be at least 10 years old, and have an engine that is 1000cc or less. The entire point of the Rally is to have an adventure, and having a crazy, piece of crap car is part of that process. For the truly adventurous, the Rally will also allow two-wheeled vehicles, but they must be under 125cc. Consider what it would be like to ride across Europe and Asia on a scooter.

The 2015 Mongol Rally will get underway on Sunday, July 19. How long it takes for you to reach the finish line really depends on your route, how fast you want to go, and how well your vehicle performs. To find out more, and to register, visit the official Mongol Rally website.

And for a glimpse of the Rally, check out the video below.

ExWeb Talks North Pole Logistics with Victor Boyarsky

A few weeks back we received news that Kenn Borek Air has ceased operations in the Arctic. The company, which goes by the motto "Anytime, Anywhere...Worldwide" has been a stalwart on the Canadian side of the North Pole, shuttling explorers to and from the ice for years, and helping with the logistics of operations in that part of the world. But its sudden departure from the scene has left some teams in the lurch. Several groups had already contracted with Kenn Borek for the 2015 and 2016 Arctic seasons. Those intrepid adventurers are now wondering what they can do to overcome this obstacle, with some considering jumping to the other side of the planet, and skiing to the North Pole from Russia instead.

With that in mind, ExWeb caught up with Victor Boyarsky, the owner of VICCAR, a company that specializes in logistical support in the Arctic and Antarctic. Boyarksy's organization offers assistance on both the Russian and Canadian side of the ice, although at this point, VICCAR will only be able to offer rescue operations and evacuations from the ice, as the company mostly works out of the Barneo Ice Camp, which is erected every year on an ice flow located around 87º or 88º N latitude.

In the interview. Victor provides some history on the Russian Start to the Geographic North Pole, which is traditionally located at 81º.2N, 95.5ºE. Originally, that point was a good place to store fuel and other supplies for helicopters heading into the Arctic, but it also became a place to drop skiers off as well. The fueling point is still used by aircraft on their way to Barneo, but in 1995 it was first used to launch an expedition to the North Pole as well. It has been used routinely since that time as the starting point from that side of the ice.

ExWeb indicates that they have inquired with other airlines to see if anyone will step up to fill the vacuum created with the departure of Kenn Borek, but so far no one has said they'll begin supporting the North Pole skiers. That means that explorers planning on heading to the Pole may have to shift to the Russian Start instead, or abandon their plans of going to the North Pole altogether. Without air support, not only will it be incredibly difficult to get to the starting point on Ellesmere Island, it could be incredibly dangerous to try to operate in the Arctic without the safety net of a rescue flight coming to retrieve them.

Skiing to the North Pole has always been an incredibly difficult endeavor. In fact, I believe it is the toughest expedition in the world today. At the moment, it seems that there will no longer be any operations conducted from the Canadian side of the ice, at least for the foreseeable future. Whether or not we see more expeditions heading to the Russian side remains to be seen.

With the North Pole season just a few months away, it will certainly be interesting to see how this will all unfold. My guess is, we'll see a few expeditions cancelled this year, and possibly rescheduled for 2016 instead. It is likely to be a quite season in the Arctic in 2015.

Video: A Journey on the Trans-Siberian Express

The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the most classic train journeys in the entire world, covering 9289 km (5771 miles) between Moscow and far-eastern Russia, with branches reaching all the way to Beijing. The video below charts filmmaker Stanislas Giroux's three-week long odyssey on the railway, as he passed through Russia, Mongolia, and China. It is three minutes of amazing footage from a three-week long journey that is unlike any other. Truly a fantastic way to see that part of the world.

Seat 22 — Trans-Siberian Odyssey from Stanislas Giroux on Vimeo.