Fancy trying to take a Ford Mondeo through Siberia in winter? I thought not.
But trying to do just that was at the heart of documentary maker Richard Creasey’s 1993 Overland Challenge expedition, the goal of which was to travel overland from London to New York, via the not-yet-open Channel Tunnel and then over the ice of the Bering Strait from Siberia into Alaska.
It didn’t quite turn out that way but the team did make it all the way to New York, after struggling through Siberia, beyond the end of any known road, in the middle of winter.
The Mondeos were never going to make it all the way, and even the team’s six-wheel drive Ural army trucks (winterized down to -70°C) experienced some problems.
The final stage across the Bering Strait was to be done in an Arktos – an amazing all-terrain amphibious craft built in Canada. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but you’ll have to read the diary for the full story.
The severity of the conditions they faced cannot be imagined by those of us who live in ‘normal’ places, but the problems can perhaps be hinted at when I say that the picture accompanying this article, which comes from Ford’s archives, depicts a relatively trivial and easy part of the journey in good weather conditions. Travelling in their Ural trucks on Siberian winter roads, they experienced temperatures down to -60°C, massive storms and conditions that make the roads on Ice Road Truckers seem like the A1.
(It’s interesting to note that normal Western Europe/Scandinavian specification vehicles and equipment tends to be tested down to 40°C – below that, you are surprised with all sorts of amazing problems.)
You can read Richard Creasey’s fascinating trip diary and see photos and maps from the expedition on the H2G2 website – click here.
It’s an incredible tale, and makes you realise what a monumentally vast wilderness Siberia really is.
At a different time of year, it might just be possible to think about reaching the eastern coast of Russia in a large 4×4 motorhome (perhaps something like this), but even then you would probably be defeated when you reached the end of the road. To do it in the middle of winter really was something else.