Elevation: 3,680 meters above sea level
Done: 1,312 kilometers
The expedition makes the first ever transantarctic autonomous road crossing through 3 poles: Inaccessibility, Southern Geographic and the Pole of Cold. Behind already more than 1000 kilometers. Travelers decided to deviate from the given route in order to visit the abandoned American Plateau station.
Satellite navigation in Antarctica is a rather arbitrary thing. The expedition has the exact coordinates of the American Plateau station. Judging by the navigator, the team is already in place. But no hint of the station is visible.
For more than an hour, all-terrain vehicles circled in a given square, but there is no result. And the point is not that the station could have shifted along with the ice for more than a kilometer. Most likely, the coordinates were obtained with a clearly large error.
After another half hour of persistent searches, the expedition members finally noticed the antennas protruding snow.
The station is completely covered by snow and there are only antenna masts and a hatch leading to the station entrance. A few years ago, German scientists marked the entrance to the station with hangers. Over the past 50 years, only a few people have visited this station. But there is still stored under the snow a large supply of food, medicine and medical instruments in case of emergency.
At the station, absolute darkness. Minus 60 degrees. The station has been preserved in its original form. The feeling that the polar explorers came out for a short while to complete the next study and are about to return. The expedition members were pleased to see the traces of civilization, the existence of which for 2 weeks of wandering, they had already begun to forget.
On the Antarctic continent there are many places preserved like the Plateau station. In 1956, an American expedition managed to find and free Robert Scott’s hut from snow and ice. Researchers saw that in it, as in the freezer, everything remained in its original form, even provisions.
And another famous building, mothballed under the snow - the Soviet station at the Pole of Inaccessibility, where the expedition goes. Before her, about 400 kilometers. This is approximately 4 days journey.
Altitude: 3 650 meters above sea level
Every morning, before the start, the mechanics carry out the necessary preventive work. Be sure to check all coupling devices in the trailers. The loss of even one of them jeopardizes the entire expedition. In the forefront, the most ardent supporter of regular prevention is mechanic Vladimir Obikhod. His meticulousness and corrosiveness lead to private delays in the way, which causes irritation for the rest of the team.
Vladimir Nikolaevich, until he checks everything, he does not budge. He motivates this with the fact that it is better to linger for an extra 12 minutes than to break off the caravan and lose trailers or dragsters. And they contain both fuel and provisions.
Exactly 2 weeks have passed since the launch, and now a very crucial moment is coming. A little more and the team will be at the first of the three poles of Antarctica marked in the route. The members of the team, in high spirits, have gazed steadily at the horizon for several hours, hoping to make out the main attraction of the Pole of Inaccessibility - the bust of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
The Lenin Monument was erected in the very center of Antarctica in 1958. He was brought here by the third Soviet Antarctic expedition, led by renowned scientists and polar explorers Yevgeny Tolstikov.
And finally, the expedition members noticed a bust of Ilyich. Delight knew no bounds. Pole of Inaccessibility taken!
Here is how the driver-mechanic Alexei Makarov describes a visit to the pole:
- Lenin could stand looking in any direction of the world. But he was looking directly at us. We are approaching, Lenin is looking directly at us. That is, we were met.
Station Pole Inaccessibility
The Pole of Inaccessibility is the most remote point from the coast of Antarctica, and, consequently, from the whole civilization, a point on the continent.
About 5,000 people visited Mount Everest. About 400 tourists come to the South Pole annually. This is not counting scientists. And at the Pole of Inaccessibility, since 1958 75 scientists, pilots and travelers have visited. Exactly 60 years ago, in December of the fifty-eighth year, the Soviet polar station appeared here. It was a small carriage on runners with a rig cover, on top of which they put a bust of Lenin. Then the station was used by scientists in 64, 66 years. But also for a few days. Now it is completely covered with snow, with the exception of the bust of Ilyich. And this is the first pole of the expedition. There are two more ahead.
Director Kristina Kozlova became the second woman in the world and the first Russian woman to reach the Antarctic Pole of Inaccessibility. In general, women are rare in Antarctica. For example, at Russian stations for many years only men remain for the winter. In the entire history of our development of the mainland, only 6 Soviet and Russian women decided to spend the winter in extreme climatic conditions. But the first woman in Antarctica was our compatriot, doctor of geological and mineralogical sciences - Maria Klenova. She came here as part of the First Soviet Antarctic Expedition in 1956.
It should be noted that other countries did not allow women to Antarctica until 1970. But the situation is changing and soon we will see gender equality. Already now, at the German station Neumeier, 3 out of nine polar explorers are four, necessarily representatives of the fair sex. And once, in the nineties, German women polar explorers generally remained wintering in splendid isolation.
The last time people visited the Pole of Inaccessibility was in December 2011. Therefore, having learned that the expedition was heading here, the polar explorers of the Russian Antarctic expedition asked to clear Lenin of the snow if it had skidded. But it turned out that the snow does not stick to the Antarctic Ilyich. Perhaps because the bust is made of a special kind of plastic. During the time spent in Antarctica, Ilyich began to wind and turn yellow. But his gaze is still turned to Moscow.
This station is now swept by snow. And in 1958, until it skidded, four people could live in a small building. There was also a radio station and a power station. A 60 meter well was drilled to measure snow temperature. And near the dwelling they prepared a runway. Scientists stayed here only 12 days. We conducted a series of observations on meteorology, glaciology, magnetism, left a supply of products and left the Pole of Inaccessibility. At the station is a book of visitors. In 2007, the Englishman Henry Cuxen cleared the entrance from the snow to sign in this book and found out: the door is locked.
Height: 3,600 meters above sea level
Done: 1,700 kilometers
Behind the highest point of travel. The Pole of Inaccessibility station is located at an altitude of 3718 meters above sea level.
The caravan of the expedition begins to descend. The farther, the more oxygen will be. It becomes easier to breathe, health improves. The engines of all-terrain vehicles, judging by the increasing speed, also experienced relief.
The tire pressure is regulated by mechanics depending on the soil and terrain on which the all-terrain vehicle is to be driven. If the snow is fluffy, loose, then the wheels have to be lowered so as not to fall through. Sometimes even up to one tenth of the atmosphere. If hard ice begins, the tires should, on the contrary, pump up. Patency is reduced, but fuel is significantly saved.
Mechanics are trying to attract, lower and inflate tires, operators - I want to quickly get the job done and go on. But the expedition has its own task for the operators: they cannot let the cameras out of their hands, especially when repairs are underway. And it will soon become a problem.
One wheel constantly lowers. It has to be pumped up again and again. Mechanics are trying to figure out what the problem is.
It turned out that the reason is in the rim. Factory marriage of one of them led to the fact that the disk began to let air through. The disc was sealed with epoxy. The problem seems to be solved, but no one knows how much epoxy glue will withstand. You need to be prepared for the fact that the wheel will need to be constantly pumped up if necessary. As you approach the next goal - the southern geographical policy, the caravan will become easier. Fuel and provisions are consumed, which means that the load on the wheels will decrease.
Antarctica - Mountain Desert
When you travel around Antarctica very soon you begin to believe that all this is a huge frozen ocean. And it’s worth drilling a hole and you can fish. But in fact, according to the classification of natural zones, Antarctica is a desert. Moreover, the most arid on Earth. There are places here, they are called dry valleys, there was no rainfall, attention! 8,000,000 years. So in this desert 70% of the world's fresh water reserves are concentrated. Because Antarctica is three Europe, or two Australia, or one and a half America, or, only four fifths of the Russian Federation.
The highest point of Antarctica - Vinson Peak rises to 4,892 meters above sea level. Vinson is part of the famous Seven Peaks program - a list of 7 highest peaks on 7 continents. For climbers, this mountain is on a par with Everest, Elbrus and Kilimanjaro.
Relatively close to the Novolazarevskaya station, 150 kilometers away is the Voltat mountain range and two vertical peaks Kultanna and Ulvetanna. It seems that somewhere here a huge spaceship crashed, and this is a spray from the explosion. The mountains that surround this array are absolutely standard in shape. But there are no such places in Antarctica anywhere.
Mount Ulvetanna was discovered by Norwegian researchers in the middle of the 20th century in translation, this name means “wolf fang”. The first people to climb the summit were Norwegians. It only happened in 1994.
Communication in Antarctica
Kristina Kozlova every evening gets in touch with the Novolazarevskaya station and reports on how the expedition goes. In Antarctica, this is a vital necessity. If within two days the expedition does not get in touch, then the rescuers will be sent by the last coordinates received from them.
Since 2013, the Internet has been operating in Antarctica. But his speed is very low. The signal is transmitted via a communications satellite. Due to the constant drift of the ice shell, it is technically impossible to bring an underwater cable to Antarctica. In our expedition, communications are provided by two powerful satellite antennas.
Now you can’t just take it and come to the South Pole. Because Antarctica is primarily an object of study, and then a place to travel. At the South Pole is the American polar station Amundsen-Scott. There is a Zone of Silence and a Zone of Clean Air. They prohibit the movement of any technical means.
By a strange coincidence, this sector is deployed in the direction of most Russian polar stations. Therefore, the expedition did not have to make a small detour to get around this sector.
There are far more people at the South Pole than expected to be seen. Although pleasure is not cheap. The average cost of a trip to the pole is 90,000 dollars. Despite this, about 400 tourists from all over the world come here every year. Many go to set their personal best. Who can do what. Tourists from Iceland reached the pole on specially prepared off-road vehicles.
The mechanics of the expedition are very skeptical of these machines.
- They look beautiful. But functionally ... Imagine 2 weeks to ride them?
Someone even came to the pole on a tricycle.
Just don’t be scared, but there are actually two poles. One ceremonial. It is surrounded by the flags of countries that are constantly present in Antarctica. Everyone comes here, everything is photographed for memory. And the second pole is true.
The fact is that annually the ice shell of Antarctica moves about 10-11 meters here. And every year on January 1, scientists establish a new memorial sign in place of the true geographical pole. And the old sign goes to the Amundsen-Scott Station Museum.
Initially, Amundsen-Scott station was located exactly on the geographic south pole of the planet. However, due to the movement of the glacier, for several years, the base moved to the side. And now she is 200 meters from her original position. And continues to move.
The first station was covered with snow long ago. The second - dismantled. This is the third in a row. She has one tricky feature. She stands on supports that can rise 4 meters twice. So the station will serve another 35-40 years, but then it will still be covered with snow.
Polar explorers live at the station year-round. At their disposal is everything necessary for research and for everyday life. A greenhouse where fruits and vegetables are grown. Well equipped medical center. Scientific laboratories. Rich library. Wonderful dining room where delicious food. A music room with instruments for every taste. And even the museum where the expedition left its present - a commemorative medal of the Bellingshausen-Lazarev expedition. And the favorite places for polar explorers are a relaxation room and a gym.
A tourist who is fortunate enough to visit the Amundsen-Scott station can put a stamp on his visit to the South Pole in his passport.
The living conditions of American scientists at the station are much more comfortable than the living conditions in all-terrain vehicles. But the rules for adopting water procedures at the station are the same as, for example, at Novolazarevskaya. Shower twice a week, time - two minutes.
In Antarctica, liquid water is in short supply. And in order to melt snow and ice, you have to use fuel, which is very precious here. After use, dirty water is subjected to repeated purification and filtration.
When the polar night arrives, the entire staff of the station goes to watch the movie "Something", where the aliens attack the polar explorers. And in the middle of the season, they will definitely watch the movie “Shine,” where Jack Nicholson goes crazy during the winter and runs after everyone with an ax.
To the East!
The last photographs at the South Pole and the expedition, it is time to go to the Vostok station. True, to be in the East, you have to move north. Whichever way you go from the South Pole, you always move north. Such a geographical paradox.
Mechanics are photographed separately from the film crew. It became clear that irritation, in spite of everything, was still present. But no one wants to pour it on each other, still thousands of kilometers away are still ahead.
Height: 3 074 meters above sea level
Done: 3,215 kilometers
Two of the three poles are taken. The last remained - the absolute Pole of Cold Earth, near which the legendary Vostok station is located.
Now the expedition has a new, very tempting goal - to celebrate the New Year with Russian polar explorers at the Vostok station. The team has only a week to cover the distance of 1,280 kilometers. This means that every day they must go over 180. Keeping that pace will be very difficult.
Less than half of the fuel remains. If it ends, there will be no record. After all, the expedition makes an autonomous transition without using outside help. It was hoped that reducing the weight of the caravan would lead to a decrease in fuel consumption. Each of the expedition members counts in his mind kilometers to the Vostok station. And everyone makes plans for what he will do on arrival.
Driver-mechanic Alexey Makarov:
- I’m going to the bathhouse. Dreaming about it. I think, already in the "East" can get a bath. Can not be. It should work out. We are taking brooms there, not just going. Not simple brooms! Through the entire Antarctica, through the South Pole have passed!
And then something happened that everyone was afraid of: one of the trailers, and the sled drags pulled away from the caravan. It was also lucky that the loss was noticed on time.
In less than an hour, the mount was replaced. The road train was coupled again and we must catch up with the time we lost. And on this day you need to go a total of at least 200 kilometers.
In severe polar conditions, not only metal is tired. People are no exception. The tension in the group is growing. Each delay on the way reduces the chances of arriving at the Vostok station on time. 23 days after the start, the nerves begin to pass in everyone. Any little thing can cause a quarrel.
Throughout the trip, the film crew kept a video diary. And every two days they went on the air on Channel One to tell how the transition is being carried out. Nobody has done this before. Naturally, such a broadcasting frequency requires serious preparation and great employment. Operators did not let the cameras out of their hands, neither while driving, nor at stops. They did their job even when mechanic drivers could ask for help. This is what gave rise to conflict. In such situations, it is difficult to make out who is right and who is to blame. In conditions of constant cold and hypoxia, critical thinking begins to fail. Conflicts and female tantrums begin.
Driver-mechanic Alexey Makarov:
- Of course it's hard. Closed space. The same people. Each has its own character. Everything can be.
Designer of all-terrain vehicles "Emelya", Vasily Elagin:
- The main danger is the problem of a small team. Then what? We are people of the people. Tractor drivers. And here is bohemia! And try to combine all this.
Not everything on the expedition goes smoothly. There are problems. Especially they relate to the catastrophic lack of personal space. Because it is simply not there. They do everything together. They ride together, eat together, sleep, and finally make a movie together. And everyone is looking for a way out individually. Someone every night in the parking lot goes into the icy desert for a kilometer to be alone. Someone is locked in himself. Someone, on the contrary, becomes more irritable. And of course, one cannot do without real female tears.
Valdis Pelsch's film "Antarctica. Walking at the three poles." Second film
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