North. Tundra. Snow. The nearest residential area is hundreds kilometers away. Many centuries ago, ancestors of modern Khanty and Komi people used these paths carrying furs, fish and utensils. Today, we will show you an expedition on snowmobiles that tried to do the same.
The expedition was called ‘Great Northern Route and went through the northern part of Eurasia covering the territory which, according to anthropologists, ethnographers and historians, was used by people of the North for trade, exchange and settling.
The expedition included two stages. At its first stage, 8 people travelled 5,500 km on their snowmobiles, from the northern part of the Leningrad Region, through Arkhangelsk, Naryan-Mar and the Pechora River, to Surgut.
The second stage lasted for 7 days and the expedition covered just 1,200 km. However, it was just as difficult because they had to go through unsettled and wild areas where the Vakh Khanty people live (by the Vakh River).
They started their journey from Nizhnevartovsk.
By the way, the geographic center of the USSR was calculated in 1974. It is located in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, 100 km north from Korliki Village, in a hard-to-reach area. The center of modern Russia is not far from this place too, 1,500 km further northeast in Krasnoyarsk Territory.
Khanty are an indigenous people living in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, a region historically known as ‘Yugra’ in Russia, together with the Mansi. In the 2002 Census, 28,678 persons identified themselves as Khanty. Of those, 26,694 were resident in the Tyumen Region, of which 17,128 were living in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area and 8,760—in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area. 873 were residents of the neighboring Tomsk Region, and 88 lived in the Komi Republic.
These are photographs of the members of the expedition. These people wanted to see culture and everyday life of the Vakh Khanty and collect biological samples to carry out genetic tests.
Day 1. Nizhnevartovsk – Laryak, 250 km.
The city of Strezhevoy, the Tomsk Region (80 km from Nizhnevartovsk). The Ob is covered with ice.
A floating bridge over the Vakh River between Strezhevoy and Nizhnevartovsk.
They started off at night. It was -30C. The expedition included an SUV, KAMAZ carrying 4 snowmobiles and loads and a small Japanese truck.
Snowmobiles, fuel, oil, food and equipment are of most importance for the expedition.
The Japanese truck with wooden sledge on board.
In Laryak, they were welcomeв by these husky dogs.
Snowmobiles are their basic equipment in the expedition.
A Canadian snowmobile.
The ‘Buran’ snowmobile.
Here they store food protecting it from wild animals.
Snowy piny woods are around.
This is a traditional Khanty boat made of a tree stem.
These two-level wooden beds are pretty comfortable if compared with what you will see later.
Mind his sledge. It’s all covered with metal sheets to protect it from conditions of the North.
Day 2. Laryak – nomad camp, 93 km.
It got warmer in the morning, just -15C.
A local school.
They have to take 600 l of gasoline with them because they are going to come across no gas station on their way. Also, they take oil, food, warm clothes, electric generator and a gasoline powered saw.
They fastened it to their sledges with strings.
About to set out.
The first surprise for the expedition is this drunken Khanty man. He’s sleeping in the snow and may get frozen to death…