The Pole of Cold Expedition supported by Land Rover is making final preparations for its winter overland voyage to Siberia. The team will be driving a Land Rover Defender, heavily modified to cope with the expected sub-50 degrees Centrigrade temperatures.
The expedition aims to explore the social, cultural and physical implications of living in the most extreme climates during winter. The team will engage with communities along the route, researching how they have adapted to life in sub-zero temperatures.
Land Rover, the Royal Geographical Society and the Institute of British Geographers are putting up £30,000 of funding for a trip and the loan of a Land Rover Defender 110. Mods to the 110 include uprated suspension, underbody and driveline protection, auxiliary heaters for the engine and occupants, a long range fuel tank and extra equipment and luggage storage.
The three-person team has now completed training, which included spending time with the Land Rover Defender 110 in the Climatic Development Suite at the Jaguar Land Rover facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The Climatic Development Suite is an integral part of the development of all Jaguar Land Rover Product testing, with the capability to go from +55 degrees to -60 degrees Centigrade.
As well as that, the team travelled to the mountain ranges of Skjalbreidurr in Iceland to learn how to drive the Defender on slippery highways, icy tracks, rough roads and challenging conditions. Just for fun, they also camped in sub-zero conditions on the Langjökull glacier.
The Pole of Cold team is led by experienced British adventurer Felicity Aston. They are heading for Oymyakon – aka the ‘Pole of Cold’. Conditions at Oymyakon, the northern hemisphere’s most cold place, will be extreme, regularly hitting minus 20 deg C and at times as low as minus 50 deg C. The region earned its title as the ‘Pole of Cold’ when minus 67.7 deg C was recorded in February 1933.
“We’ve been out to Iceland as a team to do some training,” said Felicity, “but the next big milestone before departure is collecting the expedition vehicle from the Land Rover assembly line in Solihull. We can’t wait to meet our fourth team member!”
The 14-week journey will begin from the Royal Geographical Society in London on 20 November 2013. The team will depart the UK from Harwich, catching a ferry to Esbjerg in Denmark and then on to Oslo, Norway. The planned route goes through Finland to St Petersburg, before continuing east through Russia to Ekaterinburg and on to the Trans-Siberian Highway. After skirting Lake Baikal, the Defender will be heading along the infamous ‘Road of Bones’ to Oymyakon.
The return journey traces a route further south, crossing the Kazakhstan border before heading back into Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark and eventually returning to Harwich and London on 1 March 2014.