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In the winter and summer, one Baikal

Part one. Baikal ice, or the Formula of love

The legendary Russian lake, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, is a magnet for tourists from all over the world. We asked two travelers with experience, at what time of year it is better to go to Baikal. Everyone insisted on his version. Julia talked about an extreme trip on turquoise ice. "What about the campground and the kayak trip?" - Alexander was obstinate. I had to declare a draw. The time of year does not matter if the purpose of your trip is the freshwater sea of ​​Siberia.

In the winter and summer, one Baikal
Photo: / Daniil Korjonov
"We'll get there - and I'll show you the place where KamAZ, with firewood to the bottom, left last week. If the polynya in that place is frozen evenly, then through the ice you can see the cabin, it's shallow! They say that the driver did not manage to get out and did not have time, "- under such" cheerful "tales of my Irkutsk friend Dima and the clattering of my teeth on a huge expedition jeep, we are cheerfully rushing from Irkutsk to Lake Baikal. On the calendar the second half of February. I, who caught the first "narcotic" parish from seeing the fierce blue of the Baikal waters in the fall, now strive to see its legendary turquoise ice.

KamAZ, firewood and Baikal perfumes

The road from Irkutsk to the village of Sakhurta, from where the ferry goes to the island of Olkhon in the warm season, and the official ice crossing begins in winter, takes about three hours. And most of the time it takes to indulge the local spirits with a complex character. This is done at special points - Burkhans, located all along the route. "You have to drink alcohol is white and leave a coin made of white metal. And then shish you, not good weather and strong ice; brandy and wine are not rolled, "Dima explains with knowledge, wagging his brows menacingly. Huddling in the cold wind of the Ust-Orda steppes and remembering the men who had gone to the bottom, the firewood and KamAZ, I dutifully swallow the vodka and search for trifles in my pockets.

For such conscientious check-in on burkhan on the way to Olkhon, the spirits favorably disregard the instinct of self-preservation. And as a result, for the first time you go to the open ice outside the official ice crossing, you do not yell with fear, but quietly yelp from horror and delight, sitting in a multi-toned car, which uncontrollable projectile rushes through the mirror of the Small Sea practically without adhesion to the surface. Under the wheels - a dark blue abyss, white meteors of shallow surface cracks, dotted with galaxies of bubbles and nebulae of rare snowballs. The process of braking on absolutely smooth ice is a whole special operation, requiring special skills in instantly calculating the mass of the car in relation to the speed and approximate distance to the nearest ice hummocks or the rock protruding from the ice. God save us!

The Penguin Man

"It's impossible to get close to the rocks," Dima said, blocking all wheels and effectively driving the car south a hundred meters from Olkhon's steep bank. "They heat up from the sun and the ice next to them melt. But we'll go there on foot. " By this moment, the consciousness completely resigns itself to the fact that for the next few days there will be 50-80 cm of crystal clear ice underneath you and God knows how many tens or hundreds of meters of the water column of the deepest lake on this planet. Therefore, the first steps on the ice are made with the doom of the wingman to be shot: in the end, what's the difference, where will this swallow you absorb - in the middle of the Small Sea or near the nearest rock. But in the next moments - after an epic fall on the fifth point with three unsuccessful attempts at recovery - the theme of the unfolding abyss closes completely. Henceforth, your main concern is the retention of your own body in an upright position. The only working method for my more or less safe movement on mirror ice in my case was the "penguin man" mode. In this case, to prevent bruises and fractures in the fall, you need to provide clothing that maximally brings you closer to the shape of the ball.

The road of life

To see the main treasures of the winter Olkhon - ice grottoes in the north - you can only go beyond the boundaries of the official crossing. This is a road along the ice of Lake Baikal, which the Irkutsk branch of the Ministry of Emergency Situations paves every year. The road of life, as Olkhon residents call it. It is this route that is used for trips to the mainland, it imports products for island villages, wood for heating (on Olkhon, which is entirely a protected zone, cutting is prohibited) and medicines.

Even under the ice Baikal is alive, it breathes, it turns, forming terrible cracks and giant hummocks. Underwater currents and hurricane winds in some bays change the structure of ice, there are polynyas. Local residents, going to the open ice, are well aware of such problem areas and go around their side. For beginners, traveling outside the limits of the stakes set by the Ministry of Emergency Situations is a big risk. Every year dozens of cars leave the Baikal ice. Very often, the victims are drunk drivers and guests from other regions, on arrival in Irkutsk, renting steep cars and splitting them over a frozen lake. Therefore, the main lifhak for those traveling to the winter Baikal: forget about renting a car. When driving on ice, there must be a sober local resident who has knowledge of the ice situation along your route.

Poses on the ice

All those who leave for the open ice are left to their own devices. And everyone thinks up entertainment to their own taste, featuring a different degree of insanity and extreme. Athletes do multi-kilometer multi-day skating with ski poles, dragging equipment in a sleigh. In the bays you can meet fishermen: ice fishing omul turns men into zombies. Some fanatics bring plywood houses with them and put them right above the hole, they also spend the night. Desperate bikers spike the rubber of their enduro motorcycles and cross Baikal from south to north, with overclocking jumping over irresistible for the cars hummocks and cracks. Kite hunters are caught by crazy winds by towing kites. About ice diving, I'm even scared to think.

Far from sports extreme, the people from the tourist centers are first densely packed with fried omul and postures - giant Buryat pel'menis. On the pose from above - a hole. "First, you suck at her" soul "- hot meat juice from the hole on the crown. And then you're already biting it empty ", - I'm advised by experienced eaters. The juice burns the tongue, steam comes from the hole. Next sweet tea with lemon, dressing with a gradual adoption of the shape of the ball and exit-pull out on a sunny frosty day.

And restless tourists already rent "Khivusy" - air-cushion boats - and are carried to them through polynyas and cracks in the Lesser Sea. But "Khivus" for a long time - it's expensive, so after the people arranges pokatushki on off-road cars on perfectly flat ice with maximum acceleration and subsequent drift. I recommend at the same time to cut in the car at all the volume of any of Waltz Strauss. For example, "Fairy tales of the Vienna Woods". Most likely, you then will not be rocked for a long time on any vehicle. When just drifting becomes boring, the cars are tied with inflatable sleds-cheesecakes. Entertainment, by the way, is quite dangerous: "vatrushechniki" risk being smeared about Baikal ice in case of an awkward turn of an inexperienced driver. So we did not risk and attached a long cable to the car ... my friend Katerina on skates. All done carefully: Katerina initially languidly resisted, and then demanded continuation.

Gala Concert

In general, of course, the slide is ideal. The wind blows the snow off the ice surface and forms the ideal ice rink. Huge, deserted and free. Dumbfounded with happiness, Katerina rushed along the ice with shouts of "This is all mine! My!". Before leaving for the airport, one of my most important tasks was to catch her and take off my skates.

And the supernatural transparency of the Baikal ice is striking. God knows what this shade of unearthly turquoise - the chemical composition of the water or the refraction of the sun's rays is formed by? By the way, the weather on Olkhon significantly differs from other places in Baikal: according to the results of long-term observations, on the island only 48 cloudy days a year. And if the day is sunny and windless, then, for example, local -15 or -20 ° C is quite comfortable for a long stay in the fresh air.

Yes, and sounds this ice produces special. He then shoots sharp breaks of distant cracks of the ground, then in a serpentine quietly hisses a network of shallow superficial under his feet, then booms loudly under the blows of the hands of local ice drummers. The final gala concert was initiated by us and already on the shore of the Great Baikal. Simultaneously, large pieces of ice were smashed and then they listened for a long time, as sharply sing-rang sharp fragments rolling along the ice field to a pink sunset descending to Buguldeisky Bay. And at that time the spirits of shamans from Mishkina Mountain laughed at the insubstantial attempts of the madmen to decipher the formula of love for this amazing place over the name of Baikal by the sound and color of the ice.