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Adventurer braves Siberia's frozen expanse

By Josh Clarke

Phil Sturgeon, of Southwell, pulling a sledge laden with supplies across Lake Baikal in Siberia
Phil Sturgeon, of Southwell, pulling a sledge laden with supplies across Lake Baikal in Siberia

An adventurer from Southwell experienced temperatures as low as -35 degrees when he walked 634km across the world’s largest frozen lake.

Self-employed plumber Mr Phil Sturgeon, 50, and Mr Ash Routen, 31, of Leicester, completed their expedition in 19 days over Lake Baikal, Siberia.

They walked for eight to 12 hours a day with sledges containing food and supplies, which weighed 80kg when they set off.

They departed from the southern shores of Lake Baikal in the town of Listvyanka and walked along the western coast of the lake before negotiating Olkhon island, and finally finishing in Severobaikalsk at the top of the lake.

They walked across large areas of uncovered ice and negotiated small sections of open water, as well as ice rubble formed by colliding sheets of ice.

They stayed in a series of remote huts where they saw a bear that was scared off with gunfire from a local ranger.

Mr Sturgeon was part of a previous expedition to Arctic Norway with Mr Routen, and has completed one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges, the Spine race.

To maintain the necessary strength to complete the expedition, the pair consumed around 5,000 calories per day.

'A truly amazing experience'

At 634km long, the route taken by the team was equivalent to walking from London to Edinburgh, or doing 15 back-to-back marathons.

Mr Routen said: “We had a truly amazing experience. The scale, extremes of weather, and creaking and groaning of the ice on Lake Baikal were mind-blowing.

“It is an extremely beautiful place, and the Siberian people were so welcoming and supportive.

“It was difficult and humbling, and we now know a lot more about ourselves and our own capabilities.”

The trip was in partnership with outdoor clothing and kit company, Sub Zero, and Swiss bottle manufacturer, SIGG.

Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest, deepest, and largest (by volume) lake and holds 20% of the planet’s surface freshwater, more than all of the North American Great Lakes combined.

The maximum depth of the lake is 1.6km and the thickness of the ice ranges from 0.4 to 1.5 metres.

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