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Arctic off-roader expedition starts from Russia's Arkhangelsk

April 17, 8:16 UTC+3 ARKHANGELSK

The expedition wants to prove Russia has vehicles which may be used in the extreme Arctic off-road conditions

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© Alexey Lipnitsky/TASS

ARKHANGELSK, April 17. /TASS/. The expedition, called "To East!", across the Arctic started on Friday from Arkhangelsk. The expedition’s coordinator Anna Golubeva told TASS the Arctic travelers on four Sherp all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) will take a route of 10,000 kilometers to the Far East’s Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

"It is a global project, which we planned for several years, and which demonstrates abilities of people and of vehicles," the coordinator said.

Where only shade from International Space Station can be seen

The expedition’s route will go across all the Russian Arctic regions: from Arkhangelsk, crossing Mezen and Naryan-Mar to Norilsk, then across the Putorana Plateau and Siberia’s north-east to Kamchatka in the Far East. The expedition’s members plan to get to the final destination - Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky - by November 2017.

"We shall be riding there, where nobody ever did, where only helicopters used to be," the coordinator said. "Like we are saying, here the only thing you can see is the shadow from the ISS (International Space Station)."

Warm and safe

Eight people take part in the expedition - two in each ATV crew. The vehicle is not big, and it is fully equipped and adjusted for work in extreme conditions. "A crew can live in the vehicle," the expedition’s leader, designer Alexei Garagashyan told TASS. "It is small, highly maneuverable; two people are comfortably in the front part while driving, and they can take a night rest - there is a comfortable soft bed there."

The coordinator adds the vehicles are made so that to cause minimum problems to the crew. "The vehicle does not have any axles, everything is inside, so in case of necessary maintenance everything is done inside the vehicle," she said. "They will not have to crawl under the bottom or freeze outside."

At the same time, the systems are most automatic. "Oiling chains - no problem here, just push the button and the oil gets there," she continued. "The vehicle is made for use in complicated conditions."

She explained to TASS the coordination would be "from the mainland," and the coordinator would take flights to the places, to which transport services are available (like Naryan-Mar or Vorkuta), and there she would receive from the crews the materials they had recorded on the route.

Stones and waterfalls

The crew say the most complicated part would be at the Putorana Plateau - a mountainous range south from the Taymyr Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage site. "The Putorana Plateau would be most complicated - it is a mountainous area after Norilsk," the expedition’s leader said. "There are both rivers, and mountains there, it will be tough."

The crewmembers are most concerned about safety of the wheels as the vehicles move across stones. At the Putorana Plateau, areas of stones changed by waterfalls, and the explorers may have to use winches. The vehicles have passed tests on the Kola Peninsula and at shores of the White Sea, the organizers say.

Off for records and practical tests

The expedition is supported the Russian Geographic Society and St. Petersburg’s administration. The participants plan to set a record of the longest terrain route north from the Polar Circle without using public roads, as well as a record of the longest route during the Polar summer. The expedition wants to prove Russia has vehicles, which may be used in the extreme Arctic off-road conditions.

"Thus, we shall refute the statement those regions are complicated to get to, and we shall prove we have the vehicles which can go there," the project’s coordinator said. "We shall prove not only helicopters may be used in those areas."

The expedition plans to cover about 50-60 kilometers a day. By late April, they will get to Naryan-Mar, and from there will head for Vorkuta.

"Traveling is our lifestyle. And besides, the work, quite tough, as we shall face both obstacles and monotony," the crew’s leader said. "But, most importantly, it is a unique opportunity to see this country, to meet new people."

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