Expedition Siberia 2004
In 2004, Mikael Strandberg and Johan Ivarsson set off on a one-year expedition to Siberia where they documented this unknown part of the world in words and pictures. International media called this Siberia trip “the coldest journey in the world”. Mikael has had the honour of lecturing at the Royal Geographical Society in London, where “all those who have changed the world” — Roald Amundsen, Tenzing Norgay, David Livingstone and other famous figures — have stood.
“Over there!” I shouted to Johan, pointing at an opening in the dense Siberian taiga and added in a tone of panic: “Will we make it over there?”
“No problem,” Johan answered intently. He carefully turned the canoe around 180 degrees and added earnestly: “When I say so, paddle as hard as you can!”
We were surrounded on both sides by steep, forest-clad mountains, between which the Kolyma River rushed furiously. Two huge tree trunks passed by in front of us and our heavily-laden canoe was thrown back and forth among the white waves.
“Now!” Johan shouted suddenly and we both paddled as hard as we could through the torrent and managed to get ourselves over to the other side of the wide river.
Exhausted we paddled over to calmer waters and looked at the brook which was our destination. It flowed down towards us, its water as clear as a Swedish mountain brook, and we suddenly saw fish for the first time on our journey.
“Get out the nets!” I yelled at Johan. “If we don’t get any fish now, we’ll be in a bad way!”
We paddled over to the mouth of the brook and when we put out the net, it covered the whole outflow. We hardly had time to fasten it on the other side before we could feel it jerking.
“Fish! At last!” Johan shouted happily and I must admit that that was one of the happiest moments of my life. I laughed and said: “Johan, I get the feeling that at last we’re going to be able to sleep and eat as much as we like!”
This was the start of a one-year struggle with nature and our own strength of wills. Our goal was to come as close as possible to the people in the coldest place on earth - the Kolyma River in Siberia - in order to document their way of life and culture. We were convinced that we wouldn’t be able to do that if we came by helicopter at the mildest time of year. Instead, we wanted to live the way they had to, living off what nature had to offer, at the toughest time of year. Ten months and 3500 km later by the Arctic Ocean, we were exhausted but truly satisfied. We had succeeded way over our expectations. Wherever we came on our skis to the remote huts and villages, we were received with a hospitality which warmed us even more than their glowing stoves.
During the first months of our trip, we lived in a Varrie Tentipi 7 cp*, one of the journey’s real winners. In practically all situations, the Nordic tipi is vastly superior to any other kind of accommodation. It’s a natural way to live and has been so for 5000 years in this Siberian environment.
I had spent more than 3000 nights in tents before I started to use Tentipi® Nordic tipis. While ordinary tents have simply given me a roof over my head, I have built up a personal relationship with my Nordic tipi. It’s safe and warm, my cosy home, no matter where I may be.
The Nordic tipi is very comfortable. You can stand upright in it and there is plenty of room to sleep and move around. It retains heat remarkably well since you can make a fire and even use a heater. Tentipi’s technical solutions and choice of material are also far superior to their competitors.
I can say that whenever I’m not in my Nordic tipi, I wish I was!
*an earlier version of Safir 7 cp
The Kolyma River, the first stage of the Siberia expedition.